Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Vitamin Mud

Astoria Day 1

Arriving a day early to Astoria allowed for a relaxing drive from Portland, embraced by the sunny glow of the warm Autumn sun. No clock watching schedule for food and water intake, no warm up on the trainer required. As the sun set in the little coastal town, it was hard to believe this was going to be our weekend racing weather. Local news promised rain for both days and they were not completely off base. An overnight storm dumped a fair amount of wet, so we wouldn’t have to go without our weekly dose of vitamin mud.

A tent city awaited us in both the parking lot and on the race course. Many families camped out for the weekend to enjoy the bonfires and trick or treating. Skies stayed in a paler shade of gray, with temperatures in the low 50’s. Perfect weather for cyclocross. I pre rode the course before the 10:40 am race and found it to be very technical. Muddy switchbacks and tight turns in and out of the stables required careful speed in the corners. One short climb and one big climb would tire the most conditioned legs and leave many to run their bikes to the top. Sweeping turns from pavement to bumpy, gritty almost cobble stone like ground inside the arena building caused many painful crashes with wheels sliding out in the sandy grit. The no “hand up” rule was in full affect with a handful of riders disqualified both days by race officials for accepting whatever was on offer from the generous crowd. What happened to just putting the beer in your water bottle?

All of the serious Master A ladies showed up to lay it down. Since I can’t seem to earn a call up to save my life, I started in the 2nd row behind the current Cross Crusade leaders, Julie Swearingen (Mtn View Cycles), Jill Hardiman (Existential) and Sue Grandjean (Showers Pass) among others. The fast pavement start sent us out to a right turn onto mud and down a fast bumpy hill. Scrubbing most of my speed off just before the first right S turn in the swampy mud (many rider wipe outs here too), I find my way into the lead group.Briefly. Julie is quite the climber. An uphill switchback turned us back around to the bottom of the marsh again that led to our first climb. I was able to ride this out of the saddle for most of the laps and pass slower riders. After the hill, my chase group is Christy Love(Team S&M), Margi Bradway (Team S&M) and Amy Rice (Lazy Tarantulas) with Sue just ahead of us. Julie and Jill are long gone. Back and forth between the stables until we round the sketchy chunky section by the pit before Mt Quad Killer. I did my best to ride this monster but only made it all the way up (with HUGE cheers of encouragement from the crowd) once. Once was still good enough for bragging rites. The downhill swept to the left, back to the barriers by the team tents. Another round in through the arena, down a muddy hill to another switch back, around the trees and we are heading back through the finish area for more laps.
I should have taken my own advice and left the wheel that didn’t serve me. I stayed on Margi’s wheel WAY too long and the gap between her and the others got bigger. Margi brought the pace way down, slower than I would have, but I was gambling on her taking a tumble. My patience paid off as she went down on one of the stable corners, allowing me to scoot around. Back by the arena again I hear screeching brakes and the sound of metal hitting pavement. Amy Rice went down hard turning into the doorway just in front of Christy Love. With Shane yelling my place in the pack in lap 4, my goal was to try and catch Amy and Christy but I had too much ground to cover and only one lap to cover it. Amy ended up placing ahead of Christy but was unable to race Sunday due to a sprained wrist caused by the crash. I finished just behind Christy for 8th out of 19 ladies. New strategy for Sunday. Don’t follow Margi.

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