Sunday, July 1, 2007

Saint Felicien, Quebec World Cup Race

We picked up Oliver, our very French speaking "hydration specialist" promptly at 9am, gave him our bottles, gave him instructions in English of what we wanted to do, gave him a map of the course, practiced the hand off, gave him a feed zone pass that we got for him and then sent him on his way once at the venue. Here is Oliver ready to rumble as we drove up to the course:

What a great guy for him to do this for us. The feed zone isn't that fun of a place to be during a race as its not usually the best place to stand to watch things. But Oliver was able and willing to help total strangers that he had just met days before. That is way cool. Oliver did a GREAT job for having never ever fed before too. He endured a rain shower or two during the race and had to constantly be on the watch for us coming through the feed zone. Thanks again Oliver!!!

Once at the course and warming up we were greeted with off and on rain, sun breaks, and occasional wind. There was lots of talk about 5 laps plus a start loop being too long but they still decided to go with 5 for the women despite all the moaning.

I once again had the privilege of starting on the back row in 68th position. As you look through the peleton while waiting for the gun to go off all you can think of is "man that first row of people is WAY up there" but you can't really think that way. Luckily at race start there was no major crash in the peleton but people were slipping out on the loose gravel climb of the start loop that we had to do. People were falling all over the front of me of course. I mean where else could they do it? Geez. Anyway, they have a start loop on a road to sort everyone out and its usually a steep ole pitch that just socks it to you right off the bat before heading into the singletrack. I just kept my head up the whole time to watch for that very thing of people crashing right in your line. I kept it cool and would move around the carnage one by one while trying to make my way up though the massive pack of women that can ALL rip it. Lots of wattage going on there. There is only so far you can get too from the back row with a certain amount of time but you do you best! As we got to the top of the start loop and headed down some chick just EXPLODED in front of me and Sara on the down hill. Holy cow I am not sure I have seen carnage like that before. It was like a pinwheel watching her spin in the air and then land on the ground and continue to spin while attached to her bike. I hope she was ok because that was nuts.

Once the start loop ended and the singletrack began the race practically came to a halt with bike traffic. There were just too many dang people on the singletrack but not enough room to pass because of way to many turns. It sucked!! So we were all in this line and it was like we weren't even racing because no-one was pegged. Stupid. It is hard when everyone is so close in fitness like that because even after a start loop everyone is still right there....especially only 8 minutes into a race. But at that point people were still falling, hooking bars, slipping on the slick surface. What a mess! Once we got through the first feed zone where it opened up a bit things sorted out a bit better. Meanwhile the front pack is totally and completely GONE by this point.

Things went super well throughout the first lap for me as I was hitting things perfect going up the very technical roots and rocks and down them too. I was feeling strong and was hitting all the right lines. But I kept hearing this cracking sound coming from my seat area. I ignored it as there is no other choice really in the middle of a stinking World Cup. And then at the start of lap two..........SNAP:

For those of you not that into cycling parts, those silver metal pieces are supposed to be connected and serve to keep your saddle on the bike which of course is always ideal. I didn't know what happened at first but I did know that my seat was feeling funky and was sagging on the left. Whenever I got a chance I would try to see just what the heck was going on.....was the seatpost dropping, was the saddle position moved forward or backward, was the post broken or what?? I had no idea until about the middle of the 2nd lap when I finally got a chance to see it and I just calmly thought to myself "you have got to be kidding me". I could luckily ride it still because the metal piece wasn't poking into my leg or anything but you just aren't getting the same kind of power out of your legs with your left hip 2 inches below your right hip. I kept racing knowing there was nothing more I could do except that......RACE.

I didn't freak out about it and was more wondering how long the seat was going to last. And there were definitely a few "what ifs" going on in my head too. But the seat lasted throughout even WITH a few Cyclocross remounts (which after I did them I would remember the rail and would just cringe).

I ended up 51st, got pulled for the last lap which to me is SO silly because the leader wasn't even close to me and they pull right before you head out for your next lap (which would have been my final lap). So its not like I was going to be in her way or something while I finished up my lap. That said, I was the first pulled and that was that. Here is Sara and myself after the race happy of the thought of getting home after being gone for 2 weeks: We then hopped in the car boogied back to Boston, MA from Saint Felicien in 8 hours and 45 minutes. Mapquest said it would take 10 hours and 15 minutes. I love the way bike racers drive!! Here are a few shots on the way out of Quebec:
Outside of Parc National De La Mauricie:
South of Chambord:

A bridge at Trois Rivieres, Quebec:

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