Monday, October 11, 2010

Finally, A Good Weekend!!

So, as the title reads, I finally had a successful weekend!  (Now, if only I could be as successful at figuring out how the new formatting works on this blog.  The image upload is driving me nuts!)

Anyway, we raced at Westwood Velo, up in Harriman State Park (I've done tri's there before, it's beautiful) and the weather couldn't have been better.  By "we raced," I mean Matt and I on Saturday and just me on Sunday.  Of course, I also had Andy, Konrad, Emily, Chris, Liz, Blake, et cetera... mostly kids I met at the track over the summer, with the exception of Blake, but you all know him as the guy who got me into this craziness years ago!

The weekend started off great- Matt and I drove up early in amazing fall weather, got to see some great leaf-changing scenery, and got to the race, which was small, but stellar.  My race was at 11, so I was there and getting ready to go.  We spun around a bit, and I flatted my rear wheel (somehow, this is entirely Matt's fault) but we replaced it with the pit wheel Matt had brought.  We just got our amazing new bikes, so we have the same wheels now, which makes pitting super easy. 

My race was 15 women, which is about half the size of a normal race, but I was happy about that.  Much less stress!  I managed to finagle my way into a good starting position, and when the whistle blew, I went hard, putting all the start practice I've been doing to good use.  I was sitting fourth or fifth wheel as we hit the grass, and managed to move up pretty fast to third.  I sat in third for the first half, then found myself in second, only a few seconds off of the winner.  The course was tough- 2 sets of barriers, a hill run up, a stair run up, some mud, and lots and lots of technical cornering.  Still, it was fun!  I couldn't close the gap between myself and first, which I believe was primarily a psychological issue as opposed to a real race issue.  So, I got my first ever second place CX finish, which included a medal, some oatmeal (!) and arm-warmers.  Stoked!!

Very excited about my first 'cross medal!  2nd place, heck yeah!
After that, I stayed and watched Matt and Blake- Blake did awesome and ended up third in B's- and watched all my track buddies race before heading home.

Blake, the one who got me into bike racing, taking a barrier.  He also took me to my first cross race 6 years ago!

Matt about to flawlessly go over the barriers!
Matt chasing down the competition.
Sunday was just me driving up to Harriman, but I was ok with it.  It was another great day and the drive was gorgeous.  I got there, got myself somewhat warmed up (Matt on Saturday: "Rutgers Cycling doesn't do warmups!") and race-ready.  The pressure was on!

Got to the line and ready to go, feeling a little nervous about the newly-reversed course with even more mud than Saturday.  55+ men went out before us, and the announcer didn't give us a 30 second warning, just blew the whistle.  That threw me off, but I managed to sprint out and get up in the top 4 as they broke off from the main pack.  About a quarter mile in, we hit the hill run-up and I passed two women to get into second place.  I followed the first place woman closely until she missed a turn and hit the tape, then sprinted out hard, trying to separate from 3rd and 4th.  It worked, and I held first place from midway through lap one until the end of the race, beating 2nd place by almost 2 minutes.  It was HARD!  I just kept pushing and trying to extend my lead, worried that if I crashed, I would lose it.  Luckily, that didn't happen. 

Despite no teammates being at the race, Blake and my track friends were there cheering.  At one point, I saw Blake and he yelled "go faster!" and I yelled back, "I'm in first, what more do you want!?"

After the race, the second place woman came up, hugged me, told me my barriers and remounts were amazing, and yelled at me for beating her by 2 minutes.  It was great!  So many of the women came up to congratulate me and (I think it's a good thing) claim that I was "an animal" on the course.  Hooray!

So, finally, it seems like I don't totally suck at cyclocross.  I'm really happy to finally have a few good results under my belt- the first win of the season on the team!  I'm feeling really good now, totally stoked for Granogue next weekend.

And, of course, with "great power comes great responsibility," and now I have to really go all out in training now.  Not like I wasn't before, but I feel like the pressure is on.  I was talking to Joe, a Team Somerset guy, and I said I was glad I was getting competent at CX, and he said, "not just competent... confident."  And he's right.  I feel much better about racing, and I think that's going to make a huge difference in the way I race.  At least, I hope so.

New favorite CX advice from Adam Myerson, cross guru and collective team crush: "If you're not sprinting out of every corner for 60 minutes [or 40 minutes, ed.] like it's the last lap of a crit, you're doing it wrong." 

One final picture, and my personal favorite:

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