November 7, 2008

Granogue and Wissahickon weekend

After a hot weekend of hard racing in Cincinnati my body showed its appreciation for me by coming down with a doozie of a sinus infection. I spent most of the week sleeping and moping about with a head that felt like a stuffed turkey. Still feeling crappy and not really looking forward to racing I piled into the car with my parents, brother and Tim.

My parents like to come out and watch bike races when they can and I enjoy having them at races, it’s good for one’s ego to have a personal cheering section. My mother usually brings along a cowbell that she’s had since high school and my father wears out his voice from yelling. I was even able to convince my brother that it would be more fun to hang out in the pit than run around with a cowbell.

Not long after pulling in to my parent’s hotel, Tim and I came up with the bright idea of riding to our host house. It didn’t look very far on the map so we plotted a course using mostly roads represented by small black lines while trying to avoid roads represented by large red lines. It turns out that the roads represented by black lines were nice small roads with heavy vehicular traffic and the roads represented by red lines were large road with heavy traffic.

We both thought we were headed in the correct direction when lo and behold we came across a street we had crossed nearly an hour before going in completely the wrong direction. Somehow we had looped around and ended up kind of far from where we wanted to be. This wouldn’t have been too big of a deal but it was getting dark and cold. I called our host, Rich, who graciously came to pick us up because we were still quite far away from his house and it was completely dark. My family got lost about three times trying to get to Rich’s house.

On Saturday I was still all stuffed up and not really feeling like racing but since I was here and Granogue is one of the most beautiful courses in the country I couldn’t just sit around and feel sorry being sick. The start went well, I was up toward the front for the first lap, then on lap two I hear “clunk-clunk-ka-ching”. My chain jammed then dropped off the chainring somehow bypassing the chain catcher thingie. Dropping back a few positions I got the chain back on and hoofed it up the steep hill. The legs had to work overtime to catch back on and when Rebecca punched it up the finish straight all I could do was watch her ride away. The last lap found me with empty legs and a strong desire to drink some water and blow my nose. I finished fifth, so far the best finish of the year and even though I was sick, I felt much better than last weekend.

One of the reasons I love racing bikes is getting to see people that I haven’t seen in a long time. Just past the finish in an addled post race state I recognised Matt, a person from way back in my life when I was just starting to race bikes. Hi Matt! I will admit that when you used to talk to me about sew ups, ‘cross racing and the nuances of bike racing I had absolutely no idea what you were talking about. Now I know.

Sunday’s race was a completely different animal from Saturday. It was mostly flat and windy with a wiggle through a sandy horse arena and uphill barriers that got taller as the race goes on. When we initially hit the grass I was sitting in a good position. I lost several spots when women ran around me as I was riding the steep down-up 180. Mental note-run things like that on the first lap.

After that I tried to ride everything as smoothly as possible and with as little slowing down as possible. My legs were tired and the wind and I don’t get along. I rode with Josie Jacque-Maynes for most of the race getting all psyched for a sprint at the end, two-up sprints are my favorite, then totally blew it on the last lap by skidding out on a stupid little off camber. After I lost Josie’s wheel I tried in vain to catch back on. No luck. Even though I had to settle for seventh place I still had a good day because I got to see a friend from high school and explain cross racing to him and his wife.

Monday was my Mother’s sixty-fifth birthday so I extended my trip for an extra day. The extra day in Pittsburgh was worth every minute. Not only did Tim and I have a great ride north of the city but my Mother was caught completely off guard by her surprise party.

This trip to the east was hard for me and good. I knew that I would be slower this year than last due to my Achilles injury. Just how slow I got is painful to come to terms with. I’m still struggling with it and hoping that no more stupid bad luck comes my way so I can be back up to speed by next season.

Next week-staying local and dressing up.

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