Saturday, September 25, 2010

USGPCX #1 - Sun Prairie, WI

If only my bag had decided to show up it would have been a great start to a great trip to Madison, WI. Oh well, makes life easy when you have nothing to carry, mess with, choose from, organize, etc.! Luckily Sue was coming in on the exact flight that my bag was going to be on and she was able to nab it and hand it over the next day.

Sue and I were scheduled to do a school talk at the C. H. Bird Elementary School before about Cyclocross for the 3rd and 4th graders that day.

We were excited to learn that most of the kids had heard of Cyclocross and were already familiar with the sport (in part due to one teacher showing a cross video in his class prior to the talk!). Sue and I had fun explaining cross, answering questions and getting tons of participation from the students. One student even asked me “Why do you ride uphill?” Um, hmmm, well, uh, yeah, let’s see….oh ya!!! that you can ride back down it (the funnest part!!) of course!

Afterwards we headed straight over to the course to check it out. I got my bike off the truck that had been on the road from Vegas for 24 hours plus and noticed that my saddle rail was cracked!! Oops, that’s not good. Luckily the Organic Mechanic, our team’s choice of mechanics that weekend didn’t skip a beat and had a new saddle on there in 2.5 seconds. Thanks guys! THAT is why it’s nice to have support!!!!!!! Otherwise I would have been begging for saddles and possibly needing to buy a new one. Been there, done that. The support this year is awesome.

Now that the bike was set it was time to ride the course. I had done a UCI race here a few years ago so I was familiar with the area but the course was a tad different. There was good dry run up and of course there was the barrier section. The barrier section in my mind was on the flat part of the course and the other half of the course was the “hilly side” where the run up was. Great course that was sure to be lots of fun!

I then took a trip to the grocery store to get a few items and was entirely disturbed that my “quick trip” to the store took far longer than it should've. I wanted bread. Not too hard a thing to want, get and go but at this particular store, there were probably 30 varieties of bread. Great I thought, I am sure to get exactly what I need here..... or not. My search for bread that was actually bread with just a few basic ingredients was futile and after pulling every last loaf off the shelf I finally settled for a version of bread. Lesson learned, my time is valuable in certain situations and if I am going to be picky I will just bite the bullet and go to Whole Foods or something of that nature next time.

Loaded with the rest of my goods I headed back to host housing where Amanda my host had opened her doors to me for the weekend. She was racing too and even volunteering that weekend for the Elite Races. Way cool!

The next day I was off to the first big National Cyclocross race that I had done in the series since 2008. I was excited. I was even more excited to see everyone again, I was excited to meet new people, and I was excited just be out and living life to the fullest and enjoying every second of it. It was a gorgeous day in Sun Prairie (near Madison) and the weekend was looking to be just awesome weather wise.

I yet again got a back row call up start and to the race announcers credit; he gave me an “atta girl” for a solid performance in Vegas. And even though I didn’t seal the deal there do to my tire rolling off the rim he certainly didn’t need to remind me what I wanted to accomplish today. I wanted a good result ON PAPER. I needed that to prove to myself and everyone that I can do this still, that I can race at this level and be competitive after taking a Cyclocross season off.

And we were off! How exciting!!!!! I love racing. I found my way up to the Top 10 immediately. It was awesome. But I was a little careless from time to time getting there, taking some chances but somehow still remaining up right. I wanted it though. Full on “Eye of the Tiger” syndrome.

The Barrier Section:

The race shattered apart and I was duking it out with Teal from California Giant/Specialized Cyclocross Team. So far this season she and I have very similar fitness and it’s so awesome to be up there throwing down and have her throw down on me too. That what racing should be like!! I lead a ton through the corners, taking the lines that I wanted to take and she was always right there putting the pressure on. It was awesome and I was loving the challenge while I was definitely in that zone where you are just loving everything about the fight that you are putting on.

In the end she was able to get the best of me and pop off the front by a smidge to take 7th place. Holy cow, are you series? I just scored a top 10 from a back row start!!!! Now that is what I call a GREAT day. I was pretty darn tooting psyched and was already ready for whatever tomorrows race was going to bring. I couldn’t wait; it was going to be a great weekend as I now had my sight set on Top 5. I knew it was going to be possible. I just knew it.

After the race my host family from Kansas City Cyclocross Nationals (for 2 years in row!) was there to watch me race and we went to downtown Madison and enjoyed catching up with each other at the brewery down there. It had been so long and these guys are a super active family, VERY into cycling and have kids that are into it too and there was lots and lots to talk about. Fantastic!!

After a great night, it was time to head in and prepare the mind body and soul for a fun race the next day. I couldn’t wait!!

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