If you read my last blog post about cyclocross, you know that I was racing on a borrowed bike. I’m pleased to report that passing the woman I borrowed the bike from in the Green Mountain Sports CX race did not result in a loss of bike borrowing privileges! I was even able to do a couple of mid-week cyclocross training clinics where I learned the proper form of a suitcase lift (where no suitcase whatsoever is involved) and mounts and remounts. After all this practice and success with the last race, I was very excited to register for “Primalpalooza“… with a name like that, what’s not to like??
I had observed this race last year from a vantage point where I could see the stair run-up as well as the switchbacks leading up to the stairs. For those of you unfamiliar with a stair run-up, it’s where you dismount from your bike and carry it (like a suitcase) up the stairs. Here’s a video of a gal who happens to be pretty good at it:
Beyond the portion of the Primalpalooza course that I could see, I had absolutely no idea what the rest of the course was like. I was in for quite the surprise as I started my pre-ride on race day. Each lap was 2 miles of twisty, turny chaos with a couple of sides of barriers, stairs and whoop-de-do’s. Oh, and let’s not forget the howling wind! Despite all this, I was super excited about the race right up until the moment when someone mentioned that there were 64 women registered in my category for the race. 64. My heart immediately sank as I thought about what it would be like to try and maneuver through this course, particularly the narrow sections, with so many other racers.
As the race official began call ups, I waited patiently to see if my name would be called. Very near the end, I was happy to hear my name. I guess one race earns you a call up! With 64 women to contend with, I’ll take whatever advantage I can get! When the whistle blew, we took off in a sprint down a fairly wide street that quickly narrowed to a one lane uphill dirt road. The pack quickly thinned due to the incline. The twisty sections of the course caused many women to fall; I’m still not sure if the wind played a factor or if it was inexperienced riders. Some women went down in sections of the course where wheels were ~ or should have been ~ straight. One woman rode forearm to forearm with me through two corners only to fall over when we entered the straight away.
On my third lap, I was pulled from the race, along with everyone else who was behind me. Because each race runs for a specified amount of time, the officials stop racers at the finish line once that time is almost up. This keeps all the subsequent races on schedule. I’d never had this happen before and was a little disappointed that I didn’t get to keep going. Nevertheless, when the race results were published, I was pleased to have finished in the top half: 25 out of 64.
One of the best parts of the day was having my family there to cheer me on and hand up water bottles. I loved hearing “go Mom” all over the course; these cheers weren’t for me necessarily, but I love seeing and hearing kids of all ages cheering on their mom. It makes my heart sing. In reviewing the race results, it did not escape my notice that the woman who lined up in front me ~ very near the back ~ had a top 10 finish. If she can do it, I can do it… with a little more practice! It’s time to learn to race smarter…. and maybe invest in a bike of my own.