Sunday, September 13, 2009

Kisscross Double Header

Alternate Titles: 10 Laps of Agony-Filled Ecstacy or I Can Beat People Who Have Mechanicals

Call me crazy, but I love Kisscross. Cannonsburg was full of people on Friday night when we arrived for the race—not just racers, but lots of spectators, too. The C race alone had 38 riders. I've never seen that many people racing before.

I went out to pre-ride the course. As anyone who has been reading my blog for a while knows, I always struggle with the warming up issue, especially with cross. I hate to go into a race cold because my legs feel like lead and I struggle to pedal up even the smallest of inclines. Even so, I'm always afraid of warming up. It's like I only have so much energy, and if I warm up too much I won't have anything left for the race. But I was feeling pretty good and the course wasn't very long, so I ended up doing two warm up laps. Then I lined up for the race and took my usual spot in the back of the pack.

As I looked around, I noticed the field was about the same mix of people it usually is. There were people in full team kits and serious-looking bikes who clearly didn't belong in the C race, several first timers on mountain bikes who probably should have been in the B race but didn't know what to expect, some people riding commuter bikes with tennis shoes and athletic shorts. I looked around and wondered whether I would be able to beat any of them. I wasn't feeling particularly confident due to my recent lack of training.

The first lap felt great. I was actually passing people going uphill and although I wasn't at the front of the pack, I wasn't at the end, either. But somewhere near the middle of the second lap, I just fell apart. I definitely lack the conditioning I need to sustain any kind of hard effort for more than a few minutes. Even though I've made it through a lot of races this year, most of them have been exercises in plugging along until the finish. I just wasn't ready for an all out sprint.

We did five laps and I ended up beating two people. One guy was just slightly behind me the for the entire race. I kept thinking he was going to catch up with me and beat me, but every time he got closer, I was able to hold him off. This was his first cross race, and he was on a mountain bike and he had a lot of trouble with a big sandy section that was quite squirrelly. I think he lost a lot of time in that sand. Normally, I am not great in the sand, but I psyched myself up for it each time, tried to pedal through it as hard as I could and keep my butt back and it worked.

The other guy I beat was admittedly out of shape. He had raced before but had a broken fork which he had trouble with throughout the race. He never really got close to any of the rest of us. I finished 36 out of 38 people, which was not great, but I added to my no DNF streak.
We stuck around to watch the B and A races and it was a lot of fun. It started getting dark and they turned the lights on the ski hill on. As usual, the course got worn in enough and wet enough to get slippery around the corners. We saw some pretty spectacular crashes, but luckily no one was seriously injured.

I drove back the next morning to race again. (I don't have any photos since Chris didn't go with me.) There was a considerably smaller crowd, both in spectators and racers. The C group consisted of 22 racers. I got ready, did one warm up lap and scoped out the course. It was quite similar to Friday's night's course. Rick had reversed the direction, moved one of the barriers slightly and bypassed the big sandy section. He also added the traditional stream crossing, along with a bypass. I didn't do the stream crossing during my warm up, but I planned to do it during the race, especially when I saw how long the bypass was. I've have never been afraid to get wet during a race. I was, however, a little nervous about the temperature. It was quite foggy and chilly and I thought it might be cold to get wet.

By the time the race started, the sun had come out and it was considerably warmer. I had no trouble with feeling too cold once the race started, and the stream crossing actually felt quite refreshing. I didn't think it helped me out with my time since every time I crossed it, I still entered the course just behind the rider who had been in front of me before the crossing (and had bypassed it).
I quickly fell to the back of the pack, but I passed one rider when she dropped her chain and stopped to fix it. She was riding a Huffy mountain bike and it was her first race, but she was clearly in pretty good shape. She also had a great attitude. Every time I passed her on a switchback section she would cheer for me.

Just like in Friday's race, I kept looking back to see if she was going to catch up. I really thought she would, but I was able to hold on to second to the last place. After the race she said "you jumped the creek on me on the last lap." She didn't realize I had done it on every lap. I guess doing the stream crossing really did help me a bit after all.

(By the way, Billy the rockstar was there racing, too. He finished 19th out of 38 on Friday and 12th out of 22 on Saturday. He is awesome!)

The next Kisscross race is Oct. 3. I'm going to train hard until then and hope for a better outcome. I'm also thinking about doing this race. I guess I'm just a masochist.

1 comment:

Laurie said...

Great job at the cyclocross races, Andrea!