November 13, 2009

Wicked Weather in Boulder?

Eighteen inches of snow and counting: that was the weather report for Boulder on Wednesday evening. Tim and I were scheduled to fly out on the Friday before Halloween and I couldn’t stop thinking that we were in for a crazy weekend. People had been telling me that cross racing in Colorado is either a dust crit or a frozen, snowy slog. I’ve only ever experienced the former. We had an uneventful flight, drove to Rob O’Dea’s house and were greeted by Adria, his wife, and Kayla, their new puppy. We sat around for a while, drank some PBR and caught up on everything that’s gone on since the last time we saw each other.

Saturday morning we were greeted by a beautiful Colorado sky – the mighty sun was out beaming it’s melting rays onto the snow. The sun did a fine job and by race time much of the mud had dried into rideable condition, though some sections were still sloppy and slippery, including one with a little dip. Georgia Gould and I nearly got into a cat fight (meow) during staging – her leopard costume and my kitty costume felt the need to defend their respective territory. Despite the altitude, my legs felt snappy and I hovered in 6th place for most of the race. The slippery little dip in the course was my undoing – I tried to ride it, failed, and lost my chain in the process. Not a huge deal, but in my hypoxic state I couldn’t get my chain to go back onto the chainring fast enough and Heather Irminger and Alison Powers passed me as I struggled with it. Heather was too fast, but I did manage to catch Alison. I finished the day in eighth place.

That night, the daylight savings time change happened in the wee hours, and Sunday felt like a day of leisure – we had plenty of time to socialize over breakfast and play with Danica, Rob and Adria’s little girl. The Boulder Reservoir was dry as a bone, the sun and low humidity had done it’s job leaving no hint of the snow that blanketed the area just days before. This race was fast and furious with some loose gravel turns and deep sand pits. It’s too bad my legs didn’t feel as good as the day before because I had a great start and found myself on Alison Dunlap’s wheel. This was particularly cool because when I first started racing mountain bikes in 2001 I remember going to a race and seeing her there in her World Champion jersey and being completely in awe. Now here I was on her wheel. This position unfortunately didn’t last for the race – I got caught up in Course Marker Hell at the bottom of the sand runup. Several plastic stakes were taped together and somehow one of them wedged around my bars and wouldn’t let go. I spent close to 20 frustrating seconds freeing my bike, and at one point yelled, “Give me back my bike!” By the time my bike was untangled, Alison was long gone and I was left in the wind all by my lonesome self. I ended up in sixth place for the day. I’m hoping that my cheering section was impressed: two aunts, one uncle, and one cousin and his three daughters all came out to watch.

I’d like to thank Ben Ollett for pitting on Saturday, Ian Reid for pitting on Sunday, Tim and Rob for taking awesome photos, and Rob, Adria and Danica for letting us stay in their home.

Bonus: Check out a super sweet video of cross racing back in the day.

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