Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Career Mielle-stone - 3rd at USGP!

USGP Day 2 12/5/2010
By M.M.Blomberg

Orphan: A rider without a team tent of their own (yes, I am an orphan). (Word RCB has no team tent)
Poaching: Hanging out in another team’s tent and mooching their trainers and treats (yup, guilty of that too). Poaching is like hanging out at the cool kids’ house on the block that had video games and a fridge full of snacks. Making friends with those you race with has all kinds of benefits. One of those benefits is the use of a team tent, which shelters you from the weather at a race and gives you a safe place to stash your stuff. A generous offer from Chris Snyder (Bike Attorney) today allowed me to enjoy a temporary home at the Bicycle Attorney tent. On the trainers next to me are Sarah Eustice (Bike Attorney) and Jill Hardiman (Existential Velo). Welcome to the Lion’s Den. We are warming up for the kill.

Day 2 at USGP is known to have a slightly modified course from the previous day and many racers opt to do one but not both days. Since I am a glutton, I wanted to stuff myself full of sweet racing in preparation for Nationals this week in Bend, OR. The bruises on my thigh and knees tell me I got my moneys worth. Missing out on the early pre ride, I gleaned bits of useful info from others that did. Mt. Mucky was a run up and a clean ride down. Temperatures in the low 30’s left the course firmer. More loops around the tree and a two-way pit. With my teammate Jenn Leonard on point to pit for me (hope the donuts were enough payment), it’s time to get this party started.

A 15 min wait in the pre race line up corral made for very a shivery start. Sarah and Jill are to my left but we are surrounded with unfamiliar kits. My race brain has a final note for me, “Whatever you do, STAY WITH JILL”. Off the line I can’t get clipped and the front row gets ahead of me on the long pavement start. Learning from yesterdays’ mistake, I jumped into my big chain ring and sprinted around the group, hitting the right turn into the grass and getting into 4th position with Jill in the lead. Sarah is ahead of me but I am able to get past her as we start catch up with the B’s/Beginners who had a 1 min head start. Swooping around the squirrely and less skilled riders before technical sections leaves those behind you to dodge these human bullets. Round and round, back and forth through the trees, then over to a small punchy climb similar to yesterday. Riding this hill, I am in 2nd position behind Jill now. Down the gravel road, I am back to where it all went badly for me yesterday at Peanut Butter Mountain. Over the whoop de dos, hard left to mucky grass and dismount where the muddy ascent begins. My mantra played over and over, “this hill will not beat me, this hill will not beat me”. Remount at the top and it’s mostly smooth to the bottom.

Lap 2 and it’s Jill and I out front but I know Sarah is back there in the grass waiting to pounce. I wonder if Jill knows I’m stalking her (the sound of me sucking wind might give me away). Getting stuck behind slower riders starts a speed sucking chain reaction, leaving me to chase again. Lucky for me, Jill hits a bad line and goes down in a turn, buying me back precious seconds. I am inches from her rear wheel and plan to stay there even if my lungs burst. Another successful ride on the motocross course and I continue my pursuit into the trees. This time, it’s me with the bad luck. Coming around another rider, I take a turn too wide, clip the stake and hit the ground. I tried to get up but the rider behind me knocked my rear wheel leaving me scrambling to get out from under my bike. Do you hear that? It’s the sound of my gap sailing awayyyyy. A supportive spectator yells, “GET ON YOUR BIKE!” Remounting, I chase Jill out of the saddle around the trees through the roots and ruts but she has already opened bigger lead by the time we hit the small hill again. Back to the whoop de dos, I push my body hard to run through the playdough and get to the top without losing time or a shoe. Success!

Big chain ring as I sail through the finish for our 3rd and final lap. I’ve managed to stay in 2nd position but my lost time from the crash means I am the one being stalked. Sarah catches me in the grass off the pavement and I am feeling the burn from chasing my own prey for two laps. With an empty course over my shoulder, I feel like we are having our own three person race. Staying with Sarah, our pursuit of Jill continues. Slower riders bring our pace to a slow roll and briefly we are wheel to wheel in a bottleneck at a turn around a tree. With more umph and a better passing line, Sarah got to the run up first. Pushing big gears I attempt to catch her in the straits. Up and over the barriers and I hit the right turn onto pavement, sprinting to the line. Sarah gets 2nd with me 6 seconds behind her for a super satisfying 3rd place podium finish. Jill beat me by 20 seconds. Claws sheathed for the day, it was nothing but smiles and hugs on the podium.

I will see you cool cats at Cross Nats.

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