My words are becoming to mimic a broken record. Lacking or should I say SLACKING off my beautiful training plan. Lots of time in the car, only a handful of bike rides between the Boone Cyclocross race 2 weeks prior and that was also a joke.
Does it sound like I’m setting you up for a big let down of a result? Because I’m not. Just piling on the excuses to get you ready for a result I completely pulled out my rear.
I feel more prepared than last week, and that is mostly because I raced last week. I have been focusing on stretching, more back/core work and such so my ass doesn’t lock up on me again. Tomorrow during openers I plan on doing a bunch of mounts/dismounts so my confidence is back up. That’s really the worst thing about cross, when you don’t feel confident about a specific skill you over analyze it because you have to do it over and over again each lap.
REASONS WHY I’M STOKED FOR THIS WEEKEND
Costumes, it is Halloween weekend!
The chance of riding in the rain/mud. This could suck, but will be awesome all together.
While I have raced several cross races this year, they all have been prep work (fun) for the grand event of the North Carolina Cyclocrossseries. This series kicked off this past weekend, I didn’t make the Saturday race so Sunday was the official kick off to the next 3 months of cyclocross racing!
In order to give you a full scope of the race let’s begin at 5:15am when I woke up. Why? Because I had to leave by 6:15am for the 2.5-3 hour drive to Raleigh. Thank goodness for in car entertainment of Natalie Moore (friend, cheerleeder and cyclocross virgin)! In the car, rocking towards Lion’s Roar I know my body was feeling sore. There’s no reason a 2.5 hour drive should bother me, but something in my hamstring and lower back just didn’t feel right.
Get to race, teammate/friend/brother from another mother, George Berger, had set up his tent already and we had staked out a place for the team to hang out. Another tent went up near the course for race heckling and photo taking.
Get dressed in awesome new Birdsong Brewery team skinsuit. Long sleeve jersey and Foundry parka overtop. 45 degrees and on the road warm up.
Warm up for 45 minutes on the road. Openers. My hamstring wasn’t feeling right. I couldn’t spin through it. It was tight like a fiddle.
Pre-race lap. Course was fast, felt short and super fun.
The field of women (and single speed guys) was the biggest I had ever seen at a NC CX event. 26 women in the CX 4 race, and close to the same in the Pro, 1,2,3 race. Due to warming up and not having points from the day before for call ups – I was 2nd row. That wasn’t good. I normally have a good start and like to rail into the first lap to find my footing.
Racers – 15 seconds
Strategically I had figured out how I was going to get around the girl in front of me after the line. That was as long as she didn’t fall over in front of me.
Start was on pavement. Slight up hill with a 80 degree turn to the left. Cut to her inside and hit the corner hard. Success. Went into the first wooded section about 10 back.
Bump through the woods, through pine straw and roots. Hard left turn. Girly in 3rd place takes out about 6 girls. Utilizing my mtb skills I stay high inside and sitting pretty in 3rd after that pile up.
Short section of pavement into some taped off turns. If you rode the tape properly you could really keep your steam going. Downhill, 180 degree turn back uphill to the right, 90 degree turn to the left, gravel, miss the huge hole on the right.
Hit gravel road section. Big gear, hitting it hard. Felt good, felt like I could actually attack the wheels I was sitting on if I wanted.
Gear down, left turn into grass, uphill, gravel thrown in for fun. Around some taped turns. Barriers.
This is when I went from 3rd to 6th.
Dismount… that went pretty. Hop. run.. Hop.
Remount. Crap, hamstring and hip won’t open up enough. Stop. Lean bike over. Mount.
SPRINT. Run up huge hill. Pin it in the taped field. Oh shit moment on the steep downhill. Big ring on the pavement to start the lap all over again.
I sat in 5th for most the race. Last lap 6th caught me at that barrier again. We played cat and mouse the rest of the lap. I sat on her wheel, hitting it hard right before the pavement section. Thought I was going to have a sprint finish but had a bike or two lead at the line.
Awesomely happy with myself. Having not ridden much over the past 3 weeks (hell month and a half) I am happy to say I was sitting in 3rd and finished 6th out of 26! The season is long and I should be hitting the podium soon enough. Confidence isn’t huge, but passion is fueled.
Also, it helps that my team is sponsored by a brewery – Birdsong. The IPA after was also awesome!
Goal: Utilize all available pre-season races to visit that pain cave and learn to survive in a new (faster) class.
Last minute touches on my race rig. New bar tape, rotated the hoods a hair, and put the racing shoes on (Fulcrum Racing Zero with Clement PDX front and Michelin Mud2 rear.)
Asheville and openers
Started off with toast, honey and peanut butter. On to Waking Life Espresso off the recommendation of local boy, Drew Hager.
Course tested, it was going to be fun – feeling much like a short track mountain bike ride, with some stairs and stretches of green grass. It was going to be an all out test of my skillz. Good length of the course is a stretch of green grass, turning and weaving down a hill where you find true single track with roots and a couple bridges. Weaving back around, up and down some dirt hills, a loose gravel short climb, pop out, ride a section of a pump track, down a couple steep hills to give you a turbo boost back into a grassy field to hop off and run up cement stairs. Weaving back through an upper section where the crowd will form, a pavement playground section where hopscotch etched on the ground and basketball hoops overhead. Two sand pits, I believe to be for children to build castles, a bit more grass and then through the finish line, down a hill and sharp left turn to start it all over again.
There would be beer handups and my mentality starting was if I got lapped by the ladies, I could have a beer handed to me, or thrown on me. Whichever would be fine.
The 5 other A/B girls and I lined up. We were asked if we wanted to start with the male B’s. “Sure, why not?” Getting started on a strip of lushes grass, it was the fastest my legs would see the whole race. For about 45 seconds, until the 5th turn, I wasn’t last. I held on to a couple girls wheels for most of the first lap. Couldn’t hold on. If I was going to last for 45 minutes I needed to back off a few heart beats.
Finding my rhythm as the sweat poured off me, I left everything possible on the course. My “fast” isn’t as fast as the girls I raced, being lapped with 2 laps to go. I was proud that I didn’t get lapped by everyone, so I have hope to catch on and join half the field by the end of the season!
My cheering squad was spread all over the course. Between the Strout’s and their cowbells, and my Kimberlee taking photos from all different angles. Even had a bunch of the local shop guys cheering when I went by. Hopefully everyone saw how hard I pushed and I can be proud for that for today.
The boys of Asheville Cyclocross put a good race on. Doing a great job involving the community and finding the roots of cyclocross. If you can make any of their races this year, DO IT!
There’s a good amount of time between now and the start of the NC Cyclocross series. Here’s to improving greatly between now and then so that I can catch on to some of the B girls!
This past sunday I spent most of the day out on the side of a grassy hill with camera in hand in Wilkesboro, NC. Most of the photos are sitting on my desktop computer in Charlotte as I fly off to Minneapolis. Last night, before I went to sleep very early to wake at 3am, I grabbed two of the shots that seemed to fit the day the best.
Kudo’s to all of the racers that attached the large climb at the end of the course. Kudo’s to the growing juniors class. Kudo’s to Stackhouse with Highcountry CX for putting on a great event with free beer!
As I am bouncing all over the region, and US this week I hope you can understand the late timing on this but it’s worthy of your read. Stackhouse of Highcountry CX is at it again with a great (painful) course on a great venue in Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
Wilkesboro historically known for moonshine and beautiful mountain biking will be hosting a days worth of cyclocross starting at 10am running until roughly 4pm.
Here’s what I challenge you. If you are a roadie reading this, come heckle with me. If you are a mountain biker some of the best riding of the Dark Mountain, Warrior Creek and Kerr Scott Dam is right there. If you want to try it, comment below and I’ll find a bike for you to ride.
Seriously. It will be one of the more entertaining races in the North Carolina series. Read the flyer, come hang out and there’s two kegs of beer to finish off! For now let’s watch a video of Stackhouse bumping along in his ragged old car.
This past Sunday I dragged myself out of bed at o’dark 30 to prep myself and brain for my first cyclocross “clinic”. At around 7 o’clock teammate and all around awesome guy, George Berger, picked me up in his little Prius and we were off into the sunrise. The goal was to get to mountains of Boone North Carolina and the Pirate Race Products Cyclocross Clinics.
Walking into a cyclocross clinic I wasn’t sure what to expect. I have participated in cyclocross practices, and various other road/mtb clinics before but never dedicated for cyclocross.
Here are the things I did know:
The clinic was segregated for women and men. There ended up being roughly 12 women that showed up which seemed to be a decent group for learning and trying new things with two instructors.
It would be a long day. The clinic was scheduled from 10 to 4, and I knew from cyclocross practices that I would be completely worn out doing these quick burst of anaerobic effort.
There would be good food. Burrito’s from Black Cat in Boone, if you haven’t been there – go visit soon.
I had no goals. There were things I want to improve on in cyclocross this year, but a specific skill other than not hurting myself, I didn’t have one dead set in mind. Oh wait, that is a lie.I want to be able to do the “flying squirrel” remount by the end of the season. You know that one were you “hop” off the ground and gracefully slide over your saddle like a cowboy on a bareback horse? Yes that is what I want to be able to do.
Drills and practice makes perfect
For 6 hours I was taken back to high school. All the drills and random technique forming (brain numbing) things you would do, and hate, wanting to just PLAY the game you were practicing for. You didn’t want to practice sprints, side to side, crazy legs, etc.
Quickly these feelings went away and I was left really enjoying myself and fellow company. I hope to have video’s of all the things below later this week. Video editing is just not in the time early this week.
Crazy 8′s - You basically take two objects, maybe 20-50 feet apart, with a partner you circle the objects/cones/trees/phone poles in a crazy 8 fashion. Learning how to take the corners properly at speed, while at the same time making sure your partner doesn’t catch or pass you (especially in the corners.)
Hill Climbs – This is the one I avoid, I did it twice and stopped. Find a hill and run up it with your bike. At the top either walk down or hop on your bike to ride back down. We started off slowly, simply picking up our bike and walking up the hill to learn where to place the bike on our shoulders and how to use our free arm to propel ourselves up. After a few times in slow, we then would ride into the hill, dismount and “scurry” up the hill.
Dismounts – A great thing for someone getting used to hopping off the CX bikes, especially with clipless pedals. With some momentum unclip your right foot and swing it over the saddle to be behind your left foot. Simply glide in that position. Once you feel comfortable doing this, repeat but this time swing your right leg back over to and clip back in. Next step is to complete the dismount. There were two schools of thought for this, sliding your right leg between your left leg and bike, or swinging your right leg behind your left and allowing the momentum to unclick you. I don’t feel comfortable the first way, and I’m much faster with the second.
Mounting – At a walking pace work on hip rotation and in motion of your walking stride take your right leg and slide it over the saddle so you “catch” yourself on your inner thigh right below your groin. Work on getting faster and “pushing off” your left leg so you get more speed into the sliding onto the saddle. (This is the one I need to work more on.)
Starts- Try out different gearing for your start, where should you be on your seat, do you do better with your hands on the shifters or in the drops, learn your limits so that you can push them but also land in the top positions in the start of the race. It is always better to allow people to pass you than to pick off people through out the race.
Other things gained at the NC CX clinic
The drills were awesome. Having 12 women to talk about womens CX and learn their ways of doing things, was awesome. Having “hot laps” at the end, was awesome. More than anything I believe the best part was meeting 12 semi-local women that will be on the courses beside me. Having people to talk with, making new friends and hopefully helping grow the sport.
Testing out George’s new Kuat rack was also very informative, if only they came out for a hitch for my new car!
I feel more motivated and able for the season. All I need to work on is my motor and I have over a month to work on that one. Here’s to NC Cyclocross! You can find all the photos over yonder.