Luckily I have played in these reindeer games before and never believed for one minute that 3 laps was actually the final word for race laps. I just had this feeling that it could and would change to 4 laps AFTER the managers meeting had already been held on Friday (where they said it would be 3).
And it did change to 4 but I heard about the change ON THE LINE with one minute till race start. Sweet. Thanks for the update in a timely fashion. After the race I talked to a UCI official and he claimed that everyone who was set up in the vendor area should have been told. But they must have missed our Cannondale tent because no one under our tent had heard anything about the change. Nice attention to important detail eh? GRRRRRR.
Luckily I had prepared 4 bottles (1 per lap) and taken enough gel packets with me in case I was given such news as an additional lap on the line because there would have been nothing I could have done at that point anyway if I hadn't thought ahead. Why should I have to operate like that though? It is ridiculous. Things like this happen all the time!
I have been dealing with these guys long enough that when I FINALLY heard the new news of 4 laps I just simply shrugged my shoulders and shook my head. My heart didn't skip a beat because this is just so typical, so typical. Why even have a big meeting if you are going to change it all later and not let everyone know? How about having the meeting later in the day when you feel good and solid about the info that you are giving the athletes, team directors and mechanics? Seems logical to me. It didn't affect me any (only because I thought ahead) but it sure would have been nice to be mentally prepared in advance for a longer race. And what about those NEW today to the reindeer games? It sure would be nice to have them back and grow the sport instead of freaking them out with news of 4 laps at the line. Not everyone has a team manager to keep track of all the changes all the time either!
In addition to this, before the race while we were all warming up, Bill Peterson saved the day. UCI (Union Cyclist Internationale) had the first feed zone set up ON THE LEFT SIDE at the very bottom of the first steep steep pitch that is considered hard to get up if you don't have good momentum going into it. Recognizing that this isn't such a great idea Bill clamored up bunch of folks to complain that the feed zone should be ON THE RIGHT and perhaps even be moved further down away from the section that every athlete was going to be sprinting in to get good momentum for the hill. At first the UCI tried to tell him that he was wrong and that is the way they have been doing things forever but Bill was persistent and got it changed for the Pro races at least. Thanks for caring Bill!
On to the actual race. I was called up to the line for the start and had a choice of first row inside on the left or second row middle. I went for the front row because I was banking on my strong starts to get out in front and therefore NOT get squeezed out on the first hairpin left hand turn. Kind of a gamble there that I was willing to take for whatever reason because if I had a bad start.....there would go my race. The second row was a sure bet that I wouldn't get squeezed out but I would be putting myself behind people already and I didn't like that idea all too much.
But my gamble paid off and I moved up and into third position immediately allowing for an easy left turn with plenty of real estate to move around on. I hung on in third for a while up the climbs but got passed slowly but surely as I made my way up further on the dusty singletrack. And the thing was I was feeling good and I was climbing really well but everyone else just had more today to give. That is what happens in this biz sometimes though.
Overall it was a rippen fast pace. Holy cow fast. People were like rocket ships I tell you. Everyone is in top form for the first World Cup that is just around the corner in Belgium (April 19-20) which will be a factor in determining who goes to the Olympics and who doesn't. So no one is messing around with their fitness right now to say the least.
The Canadians were out in full force too today. I have never seen so much representation at a NMBS race before. And strong too...they took 4 out of the 5 spots on the podium in the Pro Women's Cross Country. It is going to be a rippen fast paced year at the races indeed if they all continue to bless us with their fast pace (competition is GOOD!).
So despite my plentiful amounts of attacks, good solid down hilling, no incidents, good legs, good lungs I still ended up in 11th. That is a solid finish-not my best, not my worst but solid and I will take it in the field I was dealt today.
Oh and I saw a snake that I just about rolled over during the race but I swung around it just in time to save it. I saw one yesterday too when I was pre-riding which was the exact color of the sand and about 3-4 feet long and skinny. It was like a dart in front of my tire as it ripped across the course. This one today was dark and tiny. It is a jungle out here!
Short Track and Super D tomorrow. Yeah!
** pix when get I em'