Sunday, September 27, 2009

Yes, Virginia, I am a mudder...

Can you imagine a more perfect muddy bike race?  Couple inches of rain overnight, misty morning, beautiful 70 degree sun by the afternoon for my cross season opener - the Ed Sander Memorial Cyclocross event at Lily Pons watergardens south of Frederick, MD.

This is the first year they've bumped the Cat 4 women (that's novice, for you non-cyclists) into our own class for the MABRA series.  I weaseled my way into a front row start (hey, if they'd actually done callups as advertised, I would've been front row by order of reg. AND last year's points) and had the hole shot onto the off camber turn onto the grass.  I did a great job of taking my brain out of this early success and quickly settled into a sustainable but strong pace - two women passed me early but I lost track of one and the other had a tough barrier and I didn't see her again.

In the pre-ride, I found that an acquaintance from the mountain bike circuit was racing her first cross race.  On her Superfly.  Now, with the quantity of mud there, this probably wasn't all bad for her.  I knew she'd be strong.  I didn't think she'd be hanging on my wheel for the first two laps and then finally pass me in the mud pits (which she was riding and I was running) for the eventual win.  I stayed on for a while, then got dropped but felt really good - she was still in sight and I caught a couple of women in the back of the Elite field (including one who I practice with and was SUPER encouraging - sometimes I love racing with women!).

The course was mostly the same as last year - flat for the first half with a couple hundred yards of mud pit - a few short hills and technical off camber stuff on the other half.  A mandatory run-up and slip-sliding short downhill in the back section make it interesting.  I rode really well - still not feeling great at race pace on my dismounts and remounts, despite all the practice.  But I rode all the rideable hills.  Pretty sure I half-heartedly pushed my bike up many of them last year.  Great cheering from friends and teammates pushed me to buckle down and pedal hard.  If you're reading this - I heard you all and THANKS!  And congrats to all the friends and teammates who raced today as well!

Honestly, it felt like I rode a great race and was 2nd (!!!!!) in the Cat 4's out of 20 starters (18 finished).  Pretty psyched about that - in this series last year when it was Cat 3/4 I occasionally broke the top 10 and finished in the bottom half most of the time.  My best ever finish by far in cross!  As for my prizes on the day - I scored a pair leg warmers and a pair of woolie socks which look fuzzy warm but are too big so Shea'll get them. Wonder how I'll handle next weekend's double?

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