I got to the course around 10 and watched the first ladies' race. The course had already started to thaw and was a mess. I sat in the car for a bit to stay warm until the course opened at noon. I went out for a lap then. There was about a half inch to an inch of mud on top of still frozen ruts. I felt ok about all but one short section through the woods. I went back to car and cleaned up and changed into my skinsuit and headed out to warm up. I got a great warm up in and was confident when I pulled to the line.
I had pulled number three so I was first row, great spot. I shed my jacket and leg warmers and waited for the whistle. We got the start and were off. I was sitting seventh off the pavement and moved into fifth by the time we went downhill to the barriers. That's where my race started to go to hell. I knew a girl was on my wheel. She took the inside line while I went wide on the downhill turn before the barriers. I guess she caught a rut because she came right across at me. We both went down with her bars getting tangled in rear wheel. Getting untangled cost us several spots. I picked up the bike and got over the barriers and up the hill. I remounted only to realize my chain was off. My bike just felt "off" after that. I came down hard off the flyover and decided to pit so my bike could be checked out.
The bike exchange in the pit wasn't bad, but it wasn't the smoothest I've done either. I jumped on and took off. I headed out to the woods. I was geared wrong going into the sand and had dismount and run it. I remounted to find another dropped chain. WTF? I got back on and was able to ride the entire wooded section. I headed back into the open back section, AKA the bog.
I tried to ride the tape where the ruts were less, mud more shallow. I guess I caught a rut because the next thing I knew I was wrapped in tape and had a course stake through my skinsuit. I untangled and ran with bike, trying to get a good remount. I then realized my bars were cocked. I stopped and straightened them. I jumped on but couldn't get going. My rear wheel would not roll. I tried to spin it to no avail. I shouldered the bike and started running. And kept running. Matt came out and asked what was wrong. I told him the wheel was clogged. He said my bike was ready. I cleared some mud off the rear wheel and was able to ride about 100 yards before it got too clogged again. The pit was in site but I could barely lift the bike to my shoulder.
I got my Ridley back and was off to the second wooded section. I did the run up and stone steps with no problem. Up onto the pavement to the start finish. I looked up and saw my lap time--18 minutes. I really wanted to cry.
I went back out on course and rode aggressively. At this point what was there to lose? I rode so much better. My lines were good, I tackled the bog like I owned it. As I neared the second pit entrance, Matt ran out and told me they had put a Zipp on the rear of the Mercxx, that I should pit. I round the corner to the pit and my bike locked up--grass and mud. I swear the thing weighed more than my son. I had to squat to shoulder it. I took made the change and headed out. I made my way to the run up and stairs, and headed to the pavement. There was someone in the course. I realized I was being pulled. I honestly said to him, "really? Just let me finish.". No dice. I got a participant's medal and was sent on my way to pout.
Now I need to figure out what I could have done differently. Quicker off the line and I wouldn't have crashed with girl by the barriers. Possibly zig zagging the ruts would have prevented the second take down. The course conditions were tough, but obviously there were girls who were able to handle them. I wasn't, not today. I hate ending the season this way, but it has to end sometime. I'll have a chance to go at this race again next year, hopefully with better results.
|Snow, a layer of mud, and frozen ruts *photo credit: Lauren Hendrix|
|Post crashes . Dirty! *Photo credit: Lauren Hendrix|
|One way to get the mud off. I think he liked doing it. *Photo credit: Lauren Hendrix|
|Over the first barrier. *Photo credit: Lauren Hendrix|