Thursday, October 27, 2016

A Certain Degree of Determination, Daring on a Different Course.

So, this weekend started out okay. We watched the original "Halloween" on Friday night. I hadn't watched it in a few decades, so it was like seeing it all over again.

I woke up on Saturday with the trace of a migraine. I took some Advil and hoped for the best and we headed to Des Moines for my first real, full cyclocross race since my breast cancer.

John raced first. His back has been really bothering him lately and it wrecked him during his race. He was able to finish, but he didn't place anywhere near what he would have and he couldn't bend over after the race.

The race was held at an aquatic park and had a skateboard park in the middle of it. The kid racers were able to run around in circles before their race, but I would have been finished before I began at my age. Kids. Where DO they get their energy?

Spooky CX is usually one of my favorite races because of the costumes. Who doesn't love a saucy, full facial haired, Dorothy with a mangy Toto and a beer in his hand before noon?

Or this sassy lassy. Do the drapes match the beard? As I always say, I love costumers. Sadly for me, I couldn't wear my costume. I was going to be an evil elf, but it was 70 some degrees and WAY too hot for a Santa hat over my helmet.

I raced the Women's masters 35+. Which I always say is too young if you're only going to have one masters category. You are not at a disadvantage in bike racing in your mid-thirties. They should make it at least 40+, but 45+ would be more realistic. That way all the women would be perimenopausal or menopausal and have similar very low testosterone and estrogen levels together.

Anyway, there were 10 women in my category. I knew about half of them and some of them came up to me and told me they were happy to see me racing again. I really love the women I get to race with in Iowa. So many good eggs.

I got a bad start. The two women were quicker on the draw (or the whistle) and my opening closed quickly. So, I had to try and play catch up at the beginning.

Since I have no idea what kind of racing shape I'm in right now, I haven't been training much and haven't done much off road riding, I gave myself plenty of time to warm-up on the course. The course was 2.2 miles long, so I figured with a 35 minute race, we could end up going 4 laps. I wanted to ride 4 laps beforehand to make sure I could even finish that distance.

In my pre-ride, there were 2 parts of the course I couldn't ride well. By the end of my 4th lap, I worked out how to ride one of the parts, but there was a big curb I kept chickening out on, so I figured I could just stop and get my bike over it and probably lose several places that way.

During the race, I figured I'd go out and try to stay behind the back of the pack as long as I could. Lucky for me, I'm faster going over the barriers than a lot of women in my race, so I was able to make up 3 places right there on the first lap. What that meant, was that I'd have some women on my tail as long as I could hold them off.

One woman came up behind me and said, "on your left". We were on a narrow part of the course, and unless she's lapping me, I don't have to make it easier for her to pass me. So, I didn't. We rode side by side on a twisty part of the course and I stayed with her for a little bit, before she finally got a gap on me. It was great practice.

On my second lap, I had one of those beautiful experiences. I just sailed along through the course at a decent speed for me. I hit every line perfectly. I was instinctively in the right gear going up or down hills and I was keeping other, way younger, women at bay. I thought I'd have one lap to go after that, but the cards showed 2 laps to go. Crap. I knew I was going to have to slow down if I wanted to finish two more laps. I continued to get passed by women and then passing two of them back on the barriers.

When I finally finished the race, I was wrecked. I had a woman tell me not to lie down that I needed to ride a little more, but I knew I wouldn't stay upright on my bike a second more. So, I found a nice, grassy area and collapsed. One of my friends, who got 2nd in the race, collapsed with me.

After I caught my breath a little, we sat up, drank some water and talked about our race. She was dressed as a rainbow unicorn and kicked ass like one. I was dressed like an old lady cyclist, recovering from breast cancer and I rode like one... I'm saying that in a good way. I fought hard to be 3rd from last. Way harder than I've fought for first in years past. I used the skills I had, every lap I rode up the curb I was too scared to ride during my pre-ride, I didn't make it easy for anyone to pass me, I passed people on the barriers that I knew would pass me back on the hilly sections, and loved every minute of the race.

Later, I ran into a friend of mine who is taking a break from racing, but putting her energy to good use by wearing a horse head and heckling with her other animal headed friends.

I had made a painting for her and we exchanged it in the parking lot. She was really sweet and gave me a $30 gift card to some local restaurants. It was very nice, especially since I get paid once a month on the first and with all my lovely hospital bills, I am strapped for cash on about the 3rd of every month now.

I took John to El Bait Shop for lunch and since I was getting a full fledged migraine, we went back to the race and then to our hotel so I could take some migraine meds and rest before we met Coadster and some friends for dinner.

Even though I was super spaced-out from my migraine meds, dinner was still very nice. It was great to see our friends and it's always nice to hang with The Oldest.

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