Friday, December 17, 2010

My Vacation of Pain


Cyclocross Nationals Prologue 12/7-8/2010
By M.M.Blomberg

It’s Tuesday afternoon and I am driving through the Mt. Hood National forest on my way to Bend. My vacation of pain and I’ve been looking forward to this all year. Fresh powder leaves a sparkling glow on our northwest wonderland. Can’t remember the last time I was in the mountains but I am soaking up the beauty before me. Dropping into Warm Springs, the entire desert is also covered in white. Strange to see a normally dusty red barren landscape like this covered in snow. I actually considered pulling over to go for a ride but the miles of fences made me think better of it.

Pulling into town, Bend has plenty of snow on the ground but the weather is supposed to bring warmer temperatures and rain. I don’t know that 38 degrees is warmer but it’s better than 25 degrees back in Warm Springs. After picking up my race packet at the Old Mill and scoring a sweet discount on dinner, I settled into my hotel for a nice evening of bike cleaning and cable TV. My sweetie Shane has been left behind at home to tackle his own challenge of finals for school.

Arriving too late in the day on Tuesday to pre ride the time trial course, I set out early Wednesday morning to walk it before my 11:30 am race time. Low 30’s with wind and rain off and on made for an icy, snowy course and the early riders spend more time on foot. Sorta missing the point of a cycling time trial. Walking the course, I found much of it to be just a treacherous. In many sections the snow had melted and refroze leaving a hard shiny coating of ice on top, making it very difficult to walk on. A dangerous turn at the bottom of a steep snowy hill was shoveled down to the red dirt by race officials, as it had been too sketchy to ride. Officials went back and forth about possibly canceling the time trial but in the end, our race was back on, an hour later than scheduled.

After a trainer warm up at the Showers Pass tent (thanks Dave & Vern), I started behind Ann Kennedy (unattached), one of my fellow Blind Date and Cross Crusaders from Portland. Pavement start to a 90-degree turn into a snowy curving downhill and some ladies chose to run it to avoid an “endo”. I rode it and tried to think of the snow as really slick mud. It reminded me of racing the Battle at Barlow in the pouring rain with wheels spinning in the mud. Speed was difficult until I hit flatter sun covered sections with just dirt and sand but those were few and far between. Icy puddles dumped water through the holes of my shoes leaving my already cold toes frozen. I am heeding the warning of others to avoid high speeds in the shady snow as that leads to crashing in the ice. Rounding a left turn in the frustrating snow, it’s time for a dismount. The run up is very steep, covered in snow and ice with few line options. I take the right side with more snow and dig my toes in like I’m ice climbing with crampons. At the top, it’s a remount and back into the slush leading to a steep down hill. I don’t fight my steed as it skips and lurches back and forth underneath me across the cold crunchy surface. Can’t help thinking the ground looks like a big snow cone. I’ll have cherry and high desert flavor on mine! Easy on the brakes, cutting my line in almost an S pattern down the hill, rolling over deep lines from previous races. Successfully maneuvering to the bottom, it’s a right turn and a low climb in more snow. Staying low and to the rear, I try to be consistent with my pedal strokes but the snow is playing catch with my tires, throwing me side to side and preventing any serious speed. The sun has come out (weather changes every 20 minutes around here), leaving my decent mostly melted with a clean line to the bottom. More S turns and it’s the final run up (no barriers in the time trial) before the cement. With a lap time of 10:30, I came in 1 second behind Ann, leaving me 15th out of 33 for the 40-44 master ladies (time trial was optional) and possible 3rd row position for call-ups on Thursday. Points were also awarded for this race giving me my first national standing. I spent the afternoon in my tiny hotel gym doing weights and cardio, and had a super sexy evening eating take-out, watching cable and cleaning my bike. Bike racers have all the fun.


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