What. A. Weekend.
Athletes aren't the biggest fans of extra stress. We spend a lot of time preparing and planning to make sure that any distracting bullshit stays out of a race weekend. Alas, sometimes, it doesn't matter what kind of preparations you've made. Bullshit finds you anyway, and that's racing.
Saturday morning, I got up, got some fuel for me and the van and headed out to pick up KK on the way to Mansfield for preriding. It was a perfect morning. Sun was shining, not too warm, but you could tell it would be turning into an amazing day on bikes. ... Or would it?
KK and were chit-chatting about how nuts things have been the past week — she's finishing her semester at school and all the accompanying exams and projects that go with it; I'm busy at work, and trying to stay on top of training while working on the Raw Food Book and packing up all my belongings for moving day May 1. "This is going to be such a great day" was the sentiment in the car. In fact, KK hadn't even had an opportunity to ride her mtb yet because she's been racing road with her new team, Nanoblur. But then ...
"What's that smell?" I asked. "Is it me?" Then we slipped back into more conversation about how stoked we were to get up to Mansfield, what a beautiful day it was etc etc, temporarily forgetting about the assault on our olfactory systems. But then sure enough, at the next light ...
"No really, I think that's me ... I better pull over."
And then our preride plans went up in smoke.
As soon as we came to a stop, I knew for sure we weren't going any further. Smoke was pouring out of my front wheel wells, (yep, both of 'em) and the smell was for sure coming from me. And so there on the side of Airport Road, our dreams for a perfect day of letting go of some stress and previewing the race course were over.
Long story short, we plunked ourselves down in a countryside-ditch then waited for a tow truck and a heroic friend of KK's to collect our gear and take KK home while I went for a ride with "Eric-the-tow-truck-driver" to the garage. About half way there, he told me the following joke:
Parental Advisory ...
Q. What's the difference between a Ferrari and a freezer full of dead prostitutes?
A. I don't have a Ferrari.
*nervous chuckle*, Grrrrrreeeat. I'd like to get out now ...
Anyway ... so now what? No preride, that much is for certain. As for a ride to the race, KK came and got me later that evening and I spent the night up at her place (a little field trip back to my college days!) and then we took her car up to Mansfield on Sunday.
I had a great day. All the crap of the day before (the break-down, the "other" break-down, fighting with the garage [this is my THIRD time in for brakes in less than a month ... ahem], fretting over not seeing the course etc) turned into a big ball of hilarious and I bounced it to the very back of my mind, stopped taking myself so seriously and said hello to all the people I haven't seen all winter. Even Casey, of Kama Bay fame, was there supporting her beau who races in the 11:30 group. Oh, and as a little reprieve from the universe perhaps, the deluge the weather man had been calling for stayed away, as well as its accompanying low temperatures, making for near perfect racing conditions, all day long. You're welcome.
I headed out with KK for our warm up, and felt pretty good. I was excited to get out there, and mostly forgot about the fact that I'd never seen the course. Everyone was saying it was fast, soft, and fun with just a little bit of climbing at the start and half way through the lap.
The first lap was a little nerve wracking, but I stayed with the front of the race for most of it, jockeying for position between a few of my fellow mid-packers. I was a little tentative on the open sections because I wasn't sure when they'd close up again into single track. But that, and not knowing where the passing opportunities were for the riders overtaking me (from the men's categories that is) were the only limiters I found to not preriding. I found lines on everything the first try, at speed, and there was nary a dab to be had. So I guess I can stop fussing so much about preriding. Overrated!
The best part about my race was that even though it had definitely been a challenging weekend, I never once found myself in that place where I was wishing it was over, or praying for a flat tire. I was happy and cheerful the whole time, and I wasn't the only one. I got a ton of "hellos" as the guys' fields moved into ours, and Steve Neal was even kind enough to give me a wheel to draft for a little doubletrack-breather.
Although hilariously to me, I almost ended it early because my BRAKES failed in a fast loose corner, almost causing me to crash into the trees. Not sure how I kept it together, but I managed to stay upright. Ladies and gentlemen, we have a theme.
I managed to get around a couple girls and keep them behind me, with one more mark in sight coming into the last lap. I never caught her, but I WAS surprised to come around Devil's Drop on the heels of Helen Wyman, UK's national cyclo-cross champion and regular on the 'cross World Cup podium. She was in Ontario — I'm assuming — thanks to the Volcano keeping her here after P2A. The win went to Sue Stephens, with Heather Gray from Cycle Solutions in second and Sue Trimble (NORCO) back from "maternity leave" in third. I came 8th, and full results are up here. While I was hoping to be a little higher up the board, I knew coming into the season that I'd be using the early races to continue building fitness, so things are on track, and that's a great place to start. So I'm stoked.
As for KK, I'm sorry to report her derailleur decided to peace-out in the first lap, so her bad luck continued. I think something awesome must be coming her way this week. Her friend Ellen was along so I was happy to see her cheering at Devil's Drop, but a little taken aback that KK was standing beside her -- I hadn't realized she'd pulled out 'til then. Bummer.
So race day finished with an uneventful drive home (thank god), a sushi dinner for three (delivered!) and a movie on the couch at my place. That Willow Ufgood is one brave little Peck ... err ... Nelwyn.
Thanks to Dan for saving us on Saturday, KK for the driving, Ellen for the cheering ... and to all the others I saw out there either on course or off who yelled my name. Thanks to Sue from Arrow Racing for helping KK and I out with our feeds and as always, thanks to Sweet Pete's for all your help, especially Derek for the use of his wheel again this race, and in advance for fixing my brake problem ;) Til next time!
round and round and round and round.