I think I just may like cyclocross again. Mildly.
Xilinx is one of my favorite courses except for all the pavement, but it’s definitely not a course that plays well to my strengths, because even on the parts that do work for me, I’m behind other riders that are brake happy. But I think it’s a pretty course, and it winds through some trees, and this year it had a good 50 foot or longer stretch of mucky muddy water… woohoo, mud pit!!
It was another hot race (disadvantage to a September start for cross). Pretty sure I had the last call up or so. My start was good, was in the front-ish of the long pavement stretch, then people started acting like crazy roadies. I almost got taken out by a junior racer who was in our category, which luckily I had quick enough reflexes to grab the brakes as she swerved into my front wheel. I kinda backed off at this point. I’m scared of death of wrecking on pavement, and besides, I’d be finishing near the back anyway. Once on top we drop down into the trees and there’s “drop.” I use the term “drop” VERY loosely, as it’s not by any means a drop in the mountain biking world. This is always a frustrating part for me because everyone goes so sssslllllloooooooowwwwwwww off of it. Then it’s some single track-ish stuff through the trees and over a bridge with some roots, and then up to some barriers, drops down some more bumpy roots, and then back out on the pavement. This stretch is about the only part I am super good at, but like I said, it’s impossible with other riders around to really haul butt through it. I’m pretty sure I was already last by all of this. Whatever, I wanted to have fun!
After some more hellish pavement you’re back on the grass/dirt for some quick corners and a very fast descent (if you keep off the brakes). Then it was a bit of peanut butter and then the glorious mud pit! Super long, and also very deep, I’d give it a good foot in parts, with some holes in it that sunk you further in. Oh man did I have the smile on my face! If only the whole course was the mud pit… then I might’ve done well!
Then it’s a lot of curvy corner stuff out in the grass. Fun, but it’s a pure power section which isn’t my strength off the mountain bike (so weird how I’m a power rider on the mountain bike, but not during cyclocross). The last bit turns back to some peanut butter for some of the most awkward barriers in the world (can’t come into them with any sort of speed) and back up through the start/finish. I did pass another gal in my category, and realized Maureen was behind us so I wasn’t last. Huh. Weird.
Third lap I took a hot dog hand up from Malcolm at the top of the first barriers. Quite fun trying to figure out how to shove the hot dog in my mouth while Malcolm pushed me along. I always wanted a hot dog hand up, so one ‘cross dream come true! Unfortunately, it wasn’t the best of ideas… I rode nearly half a lap with a half chewed soggy hot dog in my mouth, and then when I did get it swallowed my stomach cramped up. Booo.
So unlike in 2013, I did all 4 laps, and wasn’t pulled so I’m 4/4 for full races this year, which is nice. Maureen caught me about halfway through the last lap, and unfortunately on the fast downhill I got stuck behind two Cat 4 girls who were taking things a whee bit too slow (there’s a rock slab that sticks up like 2 inches, and I think everyone was taking it slow. Me, well I tried to catch as much air off of it as I could!). I tried to be patient, and got around one in the peanut butter mud again, and another in the sloshy mud pit when she fell over. By then Maureen had way too big of a gap so I just survived until the finish. On the finishing pavement stretch I actually stood up and sprinted.
Woohoo, 18th place! And I was all muddy! And I had a hot dog!
Someone told me “Ugh, the 4’s are so much funner, I feel bad for you.” I agree. Too uber serious in 3’s. Oh wellllllll. My lap times this year were slower than last year’s, surprisingly – granted there was no mud pit last year. But I think I just didn’t care for this race. Honey badger just didn’t care.
I was super thirsty so I raided the Clif tent for lemon-lime hydration mix, which was awesome by the way. Then I had a photographer who is doing a before/after project take my after photo. Suzie was also racing so I sat down to catch her SW Open race – her first race as a Cat 1, woo woo! After she was done we attempted to scrub down the bikes and ourselves and sat in the shade and watched the open men. It was a pretty good day! I think I can still like this cyclocross stuff…