Monday, August 10, 2009

Collecting pint glasses...

I love it when races give prizes that are useful - i.e. pint glasses instead of medals. Medals just do nothing for me - perhaps when I was 12 I would have felt differently. But our pint glass collection is getting a bit overgrown. Nevermind that we already had plenty before bike racing came into my life - we gave pint glasses as favors at our wedding 5 years ago and had more than a few extras. Despite my best attempts to break a few, we still haven't taken them all out of the box!

Yesterday was the Cranky Monkey Fountainhead race. I raced Sport class again, seeing as I'm not about to downgrade! But it was hot and the laps have a lot of rooty climbing on them. By hot, I mean 70% humid and above 90 by 10am race start. Shea took second after crashing in his race right at the end, and I knew a lot of people came in with dirt on them, so planned to get a good start and ride my own race from there.

Again, they started us with the clydesdales. This really worked pretty well for me - the start was about a mile and a half on the road. I stayed with the front group in the draft, so energy output was pretty manageable and attacked a few hundred yards before the singletrack, hitting the dirt 3rd wheel. Of course, many of them passed me in the next few miles, but I was thrilled - this is the first time in a long time I didn't have a single guy crash in front of me during the first half of my first lap!

I started a bit too hard - my excitement level was up and I was riding too fast for the first 20 minutes or so before I finally settled down and got to relaxing. I knew I was leading, I suspected that I knew who the chaser was and about where she was, so there was no letting off. That meant I rode everything technical except 2 super steep hills and nearly crashed at least 6 times - but managed not to lay my bike down on any of them.

The Fountainhead loop has a lot of roots, some significantly steep climbs, a few sustained climbs, and is generally medium-technical - nothing that you have to pay too much attention to, but lots of sections where a little extra power means it doesn't matter when the line wasn't perfect. My favorite part though is the spectators spot - 'Shock a billy' hill - a steep but short downhill with a few drops, some rubber waterbars that look intimidating, and lots of people watching for crashes. For this, I was way off the back of the bike with the saddle pretty much in my belly. Both laps I cleared it just fine only to find myself in the wrong gear at the bottom and have an awkward clip-out/waddle moment.

While I never saw another woman, a few times I passed men who then paced me for a while. John (whose name I know only because he talked to himself when he had trouble with one particular hill) claimed he was happy to be following me - he liked the lines I chose and pace I was riding. I enjoyed the company.

I finished first again! Another pint glass for the collection. My chaser was about a minute off - she rode a great race too. Now if we could just get some more ladies to ride for the competition... Only 4 sport female finishers yesterday.

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