October 23, 2010

Big Trip to the East

This is the third time in as many years that I’ve made the trip east for the Cincinnati UCI3 and Granogue weekends. My father has driven up from Florida each year to spend quality time with his eldest daughter and pit for her. Unfortunately the heat from California followed me east: Cincinnati experienced a warmer and drier than normal October. No mud pits this year! Mitch Graham, the owner of Biowheels bike shop, has done a great job growing the series. He’s one of the growing number of promoters who matches women’s prize money to men’s prize money.

Friday’s race was in Devou Park in Covington Kentucky. Last year it was the site of a muddy slip-n-slide race. This year it was like Southern California - dry, dusty and hot. I felt out of sorts after a long travel day and 90°F heat and my warm up was half-hearted. When you’re worn out from work, training, and travel things don’t always make much sense. Sometimes even making sure you’ve brought the correct clothing to the race is difficult. However, once you are are in the start grid waiting for the gun to go off, everything suddenly makes perfect sense. You are a bike racer and that’s what you do! We took off in a cloud of dust and I wasn’t even close to the top ten, but apparently I have mad dust skillz to make up for poor starts and mediocre mud skills. The loose corners reminded me of races at home and the bumpy grass felt just like riding in the Marin Headlands. By taking advantage of the misfortune and mechanicals of others and using my dust riding skills I moved up to fifth place on the steep, bumpy course. Dust riding prowess wasn’t enough to maintain fifth place as I got caught and passed by the formidable Laura VanGilder on the finish stretch. I was still happy to finish in the top ten and even happier to drink 4 bottles of water in an attempt to quench the burning in my throat.

Saturdays race in Sunset Park was not one of my better races. I put a bottle cage on the bike so I could quench the smouldering coal in my throat and cool myself off as temperatures were again hovering near 90°F. Cornering finesse alone couldn’t quite pull off a top ten: I also needed to be able to pedal. Sadly that ability was lacking and I spent most of the race drifting backwards and overheating. I believe that one should always try find something positive even in a disappointing race so here’s my bit of positiveness for the day: the bike only needed to be rinsed off.

Sunday’s course was my favorite – it lacked the ridiculously steep hills of Friday’s race yet was not nearly as flat as Saturday’s race. My throat now felt like someone was having a barbeque in it and breathing was becoming increasingly painful. My head wasn’t into racing and I would have rather napped in the shade than warmed up and raced, but I was here to race so I went through the motions and lined up at the start. Maybe I’m onto something because it was my best start of the season and by the third turn I was up in the top five. I moved back a bit on the long uphill and sand pit run but the front group wasn’t far ahead. They stayed tantalizingly close and my legs felt great – better than they’ve felt in months. When I stood up to pedal I actually accelerated and when I stayed seated and pushed on the pedals I felt power transferring to the bike. It felt so good to feel a little bit of my old self start to show through. Unfortunately this only lasted two and a half laps and the race was four laps long. I finished the day in ninth place, not exactly where I had hoped to finish but glad that my legs felt good even just for a few laps. Tim, my father and I packed up the van and got on the highway for the long drive to Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately this is where the race report ends. I had planned on racing in Granogue this past weekend but the barbeque in my throat turned into a full blown fever and head cold. I spent most of the week lying on my parents couch with a tissue box close at hand. While I’m super disappointed to miss out on great weather and good racing I did get to spend plenty of time with my family.

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