So, this weekend we went to Des Moines to race Night Cup CX. It's one of my favorite races, and this year they added a second day. We got to spend the night at Coadster's place for free and hang out with her, her boyfriend and the grand puppy.
Before the race, we met Coadster, her boyfriend and my friends John and Shannon, who moved there in 2008 at Fong's Pizza. I ate way too much before my race, but we all got different pizzas and I wanted to try everyone's. It was a great lunch. We talked about how much Des Moines has changed for the better in the last 10 years and how nice it was to go there now that they have such amazing bike trails and restaurants and bars.
On Saturday night I raced against 6 other women in the Masters 45+ field. We raced in the dark and there was a downhill, turny, off-camber part of the course that I was too afraid to ride. Instead, I had to jump off my bike and run it, but jumping back on my bike on that off-camber hill was awkward and slow and every time I did it, more women passed me. One of the women who started out really fast in my race, flatted and dropped out, which left 3 women ahead of me and one behind. Surprisingly enough, there was a muddy uphill, that you had to hit just right in order to be able to ride up it and the woman directly in front of me and behind me weren't able to do, but I could. That never happens. The third place woman and I were neck and neck throughout the race. She would gain ground on the downhill thing I couldn't ride and I would catch up on the uphill she couldn't ride. Finally, on the last lap, the 3rd place woman crashed on the downhill thing, and I was able to run ahead, jump on my bike and get a little ahead of her. I was too tired to go as hard as I needed to get a gap and she was such a strong competitor, she came on me like gangbusters after that. I wish I had that kind of strength at this point of the race season. She did pass me eventually, and I stayed hot on her wheel, in hopes that I could come around her, but that never happened. I finished 4th and I used all the strength I had to do that. On the plus side, I did grab a dollar bill someone was hanging from a fishing pole and I accidentally popped a wheelie on the muddy uphill in front of a bunch of people who cheered and applauded me and asked me to do it again. (sorry, kids. I can only do that by accident). Most importantly, because I was pushing so hard to keep up with the third place woman I had a lot more interesting and challenging race than I have all year. Also, I got a free beer when I was done.Yea me!
The race on Sunday was a lot smaller field. It was me and two other women. The woman who flatted the night before came back to try again. She can beat me pretty easily on certain courses and I figured she'd have an advantage because she didn't race the day before and this would be my first double race weekend of the year. I have really noticed how much longer it takes this old bird to recover, the further away from 40 I get. I didn't have the best start to this race. We were staged behind the Cat 1/2/3 women and started all at the same time. Apparently, I need to work on being faster and more aggressive at the start of a race. I got behind slower people and couldn't get around them, and then there was a little crash that took up the whole lane and bottle necked the few of us bringing up the rear. After that, I had a pretty good first lap. I gained on the number one woman and passed a few of the Cat 1/2/3 racers and started getting a gap on the number 3 woman in my race. After the second lap, I started to get really tired and thirsty. It was 81 degrees out and I was feeling a little dehydrated. I passed the number one woman on the long, flat section. I know she doesn't feel like she has a lot of power and she has excellent bike handling skills, so if I wanted to pass and get a gap, I knew I had to do it there. Or course, she and one of the 1/2/3 women were right on my wheel the whole time and after that effort, I really started to feel gassed. I held on and kept my lead. by the last lap, I was really dying. I was worried I was going to lose my lead, but then I realized that the other two women in my race got lapped and pulled and I was the only woman in my category out on the course. Normally, I would use that time to work on going as hard as I could, but I really had nothing left. I rode that last lap and was hanging on by a thread. I was so glad I didn't have any competition right then, because I had nothing left to fight with. I got first place and figured out my weaknesses: 2 F words - fear and fitness. The fitness I can keep working on, but the fear I will have to try to handle with thousands of tiny, little, baby steps. I suppose that means higher RPM's, right?