I knew the course was going to get some weather, but still, after the drive up - which consisted of just haze at the worst - arriving in midland to torrential downpours and lively thunderstorms came as a bit of a shock. How dare it rain on another Ocup?!
Making my way to registration in my good old yellow slicker, I was travelling against a current of drenched, muddy riders whose smiles were conspicuously absent. Still, my race was still a few hours away so I tried not to worry. However, with that much water, I had to concede that in all likelihood the damage was done. Wet and shivering (but only half as much as the racers) I made my way back to the minivan to hide from the elements until it was time to kit up. I was grateful to have G there for company so together we perused some books and magazines and enjoyed some snackies. "This is the life" I exclaimed and G said "sitting in the van while it pours outside?" Guess I'm easy to please.
Having my nose stuck in a magazine meant I didn't get to witness the miraculous transformation, which made it all the more dramatic once I did finally look up. By noon hour, the sky was clear blue. A few fluffy white clouds completed the picture of a perfect summer afternoon. The temperature was on its way up, too.
Even when it was raining I was excited to get going. I had an incredibly bad race at Mountainview last year for provincials so I was determined to exact my revenge. My legs felt good, right where I needed them, and I was hungry after the excitement at Buckwallow. Plus, I'd done a lot of "Mountainview specific" training so I knew I had the chops to take a good bite out of it.
We lined up, had a brief conversation led by Chico on the megaphone about how those racing at World's in AUS should imagine every tree as a potential kangaroo. Then it was straight up the ski hill for a lung bursting start. Counting on my ability to recover (heh) I pinned it and was third wheel at the top of the hill. One more got by me headed into the first of the singletrack. My oxygen indebted brain was having difficulties negotiating the wet roots and tight corners but I stayed up and only dabbed a few times. Then it was back to business.
On lap two, I came upon Laura in the singletrack and got by her when the course opened up. She became the proverbial "devil on my back" because passing the Junior National Champion is one thing but gapping her is quite another. However, my front brake appeared to be rooting for Laura, because it was at about this time that it began rubbing noisily on the rotor, whining away while I worked extra hard to make up the difference.
Since part of the course was still unrideable and I was off the bike running anyway, I did what I could to remedy the braking issue but not sure how much gap I'd opened, I didn't know which way to gamble ... I mean it was still rolling -- kinda -- so better to just keep going and hope I don't run out of real estate, right?
On the next lap, the running section was getting smaller as the course dried so I was stoked to be able to turn the cranks over instead of slipping and sliding around with a 30 pound-mud-laden rig on my shoulder. I looked back and there she was again. I dug in and just kept telling myself to push. I kept on it through another couple sections of singletrack and sneaked peeks on the double track and not seeing her, thought "She hasn't caught you yet, you've got this." Just then, on the aptly named section of trail called "innuENDO", the bike inexplicably made a 90 degree turn into some trees and brush, stopping abruptly enough to send me over the bars Superman style. I landed on my chest and forearms and thought maybe my chin, but wasn't sure. Winded, I got up gasping and after a quick assessment climbed back on even more determined to make up for the lost time. My shoulder hurt right away but once my brain clicked back to race mode, all the pain shut off. On the bright side, the bike's collision somehow seemed to solve the brake issue. I rolled through for my fourth lap and the announcer said "third". That was all the fire I needed to finish it off.
After grabbing my bottle from G and Tara in the feedzone, I headed up for my last time on the singletrack lung-busting climb. Just as I was about to duck in, I heard Tara yell "Go Kris" from the feedzone with a tone of urgency that I took as a warning that Laura had once again closed in. I fought hard, barely even risking time on drinking (which is a dumb move btw, not recommended in 40 degree weather ... "this is your brain ... this is your brain on racing") and crossed the line holding onto my second podium spot of the season. Some bronze hardware for the 2009 collection. STOKED!
G was waiting for me and I gave him a muddy, sweaty hug and as my body released me from it's "fight/flight" clutches, the things it had been hiding from me were revealed. Number one, my legs didn't seem to want to hold me up anymore. Number two, my arm was conspicuoulsy limited to only a few degrees of motion. Number three, forming words that made sense was not within the realm of possibility. And four, despite standing in the sun and 32 dgree + temperature, I was cold and goose pimply. Better hit the watermelon table!
I finished off the day at Mountainview with some Dr. Pepper, some delicious watermelon, a good sit-down in the shade (and a patch of poison ivy ... whoops. Thanks for pointing it out, Andrew!) and some fun and prizes.
Of course, with the good comes the bad. We decided to pay a visit to the hospital as per first-aid guy's advice. It turned into a three-hour ordeal including xrays which showed everything was a-okay with my bones, phew. However, my rotator cuff is pretty angry at the moment so I'm in a sling for a week. Doctor says to check back in a few days once things have got past the acute stage to find out more about potential cartiledge tears and which muscles in particular need some tender loving care.
Finally, with the lightening dying down and my hunger grating, we made it back to the 'hood by about 11:00. Long day for sure, but one of my favourites this season just the same.
Congrats to Sweet Pete's teammates Jerome (12th, Sr. Elite), Brianna (5th, Sr. Sport) and Martin (5th, Minime) on their fine finishes! Congrats to Tara and Andrew who both placed 2nd in Sr. Expert. Full results are posted here.
To close, here's some more lightening, lifted from weather.ca and The Star.