Wednesday, June 4, 2008

WI State Champ

Y'all know what time it is? Wisconsin State Cyclocross Champion jersey time! It's been a long time coming, but here it is at last. I never put up my race report from the State Champ race because I thought, hey, I'll just put it up when I get the jersey. Well, we're closer to this year's CX season than last year's, but here it is, complete with a photo by the heralded Kat Jacobs:

Early on in the week, I was thrilled to find out that there would be terrible weather for the Championships. I missed Badger Prairie earlier in the season, and I wanted to get in one good inclement weather race before we called it quits for the year. The weekend came and yes, it was terrible weather. Someone said that the race could have been more epic only if blood and hot acid rained from the sky, and it’s about right. Wind would have helped, too, but I’m not complaining.

When I went on my warm-up lap (aka the get-wet-and-freeze-your-extremities-until-your-race-an-hour-later lap), I was sliding all over the place. It was early and the snow on the ground was the consistency of a sno-cone, or maybe a really thick shake… mmm. The track/trail wasn’t really developed like it was in the later races, and everyone’s wheels got sucked this way and that for the first few races. While on my lap, I found it took less energy to bike in the mush previously biked in, but it was less handling trouble if you biked in the deep, crusty virgin snow- a trade-off. I also noted that it was hard to bike up any substantial incline, and even harder to mount and start riding on any kind of incline, 1/2 degree or more. Even though the ride-through lap was a pain, I’m glad I did it, as it got me used to the snow a little.

But on to the good stuff. As I lined up with the kiddies and the other girlies for the last time in my career as a Cat 4 racer, I…. well, I wasn’t reflecting. I was freezing and hoping they would call go before I froze in place. When the call came, we all struggled rather than surged off of the line. I heard people yelling and cheering for me, and I felt pretty ridiculous wallowing in the snow, trying to get moving in a straight line. Eventually, though, we all got going.

I fell in behind a few junior girls, a few of the junior boys having taken off to recklessly endanger themselves, not yet having to worry about paying any ambulance or ER bills. Ah, youth. As I raced, I noticed that kids didn’t have it easy when it came to biking in a straight line through the snow. My weight gave me a distinct advantage (for once!) because instead of almost floating over all the slush ruts, I could get through them a little better. I certainly wasn’t sailing along carefree, but I had it easier than the wee ones.
However, those with gears had an advantage over me. When going up inclines, I had to stay over the rear wheel and keep my pedal strokes terribly even or risk spinning out and having to get off and hoof it uphill. The junior girls ahead of me got a good lead on one of the longer inclines, but I gradually took it in until I passed them toward the end of the first lap on some barriers and a straightaway. After that it was just a matter of staying on the bike.

We only did two 1.5 mile laps, and during the race it was easy to stay up-beat. It was strange to think that I only had to do two laps, and the finish actually snuck up on me. Usually, I’m counting down the laps and telling myself “I only have to run up this three more times”. This time I thought “The bridge again? Um, only 200 yards more, I guess”.

I came in to much cheering, etc. I felt like I hardly deserved it, being as the whole race seemed pretty slow and short, but today I’m feeling a little more worthy. During the race it had started misting, and by the time I finished, there was a pretty healthy sleet going on. I woke up this morning with some sniffles and a sore throat. My calves were also sore for the first time in recent memory, and my right calf was stiff for the whole day. Weather:2 Katy:0. I think it was a tough race, if not for speed, then for the strength and balance it took to navigate a bike through the slush. I definitely deserved that post-race nap.

*State Champ Jersey was free of charge, thanks to the sponsorship of the Brazen Dropouts and Beans and Barley*

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