October 27, 2008

It seemed like a good idea when…

…I bought my plane tickets. In reality it wasn’t such a good idea. Three UCI cross races in a row at the start of the season with very little racing under my belt. I’m talking about the Cincinnati Cyclocross Festival from this past weekend. I thought I could score some good UCI points with minimal travel, visit my family and get some speed into my legs. What I got was some really hot races, a meager amount of UCI points, really tired legs and a sinus infection.

The weekend started on Wednesday with Tim and I flying into Louisville, partaking of fine pub fare such as fried pickles and tomatoes, drinking of fine rye (Pappy Van Winkle’s twelve year rye) and enjoying a warm Indian Summer evening. On Thursday we went for a beautiful ride along the Ohio River and out into Kentucky countryside. If these roads are indicative of the roads in the state I could easily spend months riding in this area. My father met us in Louisville and from there we drove to host housing in Cincinnati. Teammate Shannon Gibson was already there with her bike together ready to rock.

Friday’s race was in Kentucky on a bumpy twisty course and it was hot. Not desert hot but much to hot and humid for a cross race. Once again I had a good start and was in the top five behind my teammate DeDe before the legs and lungs had enough. Drifting back I found myself barely hanging onto the wheel of the seventh place woman when her and the sixth place woman went down in a corner. I took the opportunity to create as big a gap as possible all the while hoping that I could hold them off for the next lap and a half. The final lap was exquisitely painful. I willed some extra life into my legs and stayed ahead for sixth place all the while not getting caught up in the drainage ditch of doom. This ditch claimed more than one wheel and rolled tubies during the race.

Saturday’s race was even warmer. Instead of warming up I overheated, that is not a good way to start a race. My legs felt empty and my head wanted to explode. I was jealous of Sue Butler who put a bottle cage on her bike so she had water to sip during the race. On the second or third lap I took a spectacular header in the sand pit. Both teammates behind me were kind enough not to run over my bike or arm and Tim had stationed himself at the end of the sandpit to take pictures. He didn’t stop shooting as I went ass over tea kettle and got the entire sequence on film.

That race couldn’t end soon enough and I couldn’t stop thinking about how smart Sue was to have water. Lots of things were burned this day such as my nose from the sun, my entire book of matches and several eggs in a pan at breakfast. For that last one I’d like to apologize to Tom and Mary Jo (my host family. I severely burned several eggs onto one of their pans despite the generous use of oil in the pan. We were going to clean it when we got back but you got to it before us.

Sunday’s race was my favorite course of the weekend and a nice breeze made it feel a bit cooler. I also took great care while warming up to manage my body temperature with bags of ice. Round and round we went, down through the sand pit and back up through the sand pit. I rode the uphill sand once, it sucked the life and speed from me so I dismounted and ran after that. My host family came to watch the race, they stationed themselves by the uphill sandpit and I heard them every lap on the grueling uphill grind. After riding around in no man’s land for several laps the end of the race finally came. I managed to squeak out one UCI point from this race and was unfortunately far from the top five.

This was the race that Mitch, the promoter, matched the prize money of the top five women to that of the top five men. It would have been a financially bountiful day if I was four minutes faster. A feeble attempt at riding the trainer to spin down was abandoned for the promise of a shower and food. Tom and Mary Jo grilled some veggies so we could have a snack before hitting the road and heading to Pittsburgh. It was a long drive to Pittsburgh with my father putting in a heroic effort and not complaining when I fell asleep in the passenger seat. We rolled into Pittsburgh well past my bedtime and into the space in between races.

Next up: Granogue, Wissahickon and my head feeling like a stuffed turkey.

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