November 30, 2010
It’s been five years since I first raced in Golden Gate Park. In 2005 the final race of the USGP was held in mid November in very warm, extremely dusty conditions. I was getting over a head cold and had one of the best rides of my life finishing 4th on the day, 3rd overall in the USGP series, and earning an automatic nomination to the World Championship team. Much has changed since then – I’ve weathered illness and injury, I’ve gotten slower and faster – but through all of that, racing in Golden Gate Park is still one of the highlights of my season. This year the weather goddess, La Niña, blessed us with enough early season rain to eliminate all the dust in the park and create a nice mud puddle. It was even cold enough for frost to add a little bit of extra slickness to the dirt trails. It seemed like most of San Francisco was out to enjoy the sunshine – during my warm up I saw families walking together, people practicing tai chi, small packs of Segways, cyclists, and runners.
This race is part of a local series with call ups based on series points. Since I’ve only done one other local race I had no series points and subsequently had to line up in the fifth row. My eye was on the series leader Kerry Barnholt, but it was kind of hard to see her all the way up in the front row. The extra-long start stretch afforded decent opportunity to move up and I made it up to about 14th place before hitting the singletrack. Don’t let anyone tell you that there’s no place to pass on the Golden Gate Park course – there’s plenty – you just have to see the space and move into it. Coming into the second lap I passed a few more ladies on the pavement and after the barriers caught up to the fast duo of Karen Brems and Sarah Bamberger. I hesitated when I got to them thinking it would be nice to rest, but then realized this wasn’t my race. My race was further ahead with the leader. Starting on the third lap I didn’t realize I had moved into second place. Tim yelled a split time at me from the sidelines, and it dawned on me that Kerry was the only person I had to catch. We were moving at close to the same speed at this point and the gap between us didn’t change much for the last two laps. I was happy to finish in second and get in a good workout before the last race of the season before nationals. It was also fun to see everyone at home that I’ve missed all season due to travel.
Next week we head up to Portland for the final two races of the USGP and are guaranteed epic weather and mud.