Sunday, January 16, 2011

The end of 'cross season

December disappeared -- multiple (minor) illnesses, lots of missed days of work, family visits, holidays, construction on the house... I feel like I'm still trying to get back into my normal routine. I'm finally starting to work on getting caught up with the blog.

First up: the end of 'cross season. I did my last two races, Shedd Park (Lowell) and Sterling, at the end of November. The season continued for a few weeks beyond that, but I was so exhausted that I decided to pull the plug after Sterling. I ended up doing 10 races total.

The Shedd Park race was a small 1/2/3 race. I hadn't been able to race the previous two weekends (didn't want to travel to Noho and was sick and DNS'd at Plymouth), so I was a bit nervous. I fueled up with a yummy chocolate chip cookie made by my teammate Robert a few minutes before the start.

I felt like I got a decent start on the cinder track, but I soon realized that I was last, as usual. I surprised myself by being able to pull ahead of a few people and rode a clean race to finish 12th out of 15. I think we ended up doing 5 laps. I was so cross-eyed up the very steep hill where my friend Andy (of Waffle Cross) was doing waffle handups (and someone else was doing 4Loco handups) that I couldn't find him.

I almost got the waffle on the 4th lap but didn't quite make it. Fortunately the Wheelworkers had a tent set up so I could get one later.

Here's someone in the men's 1/2/3 field who had more success than I did with the waffles.

The following weekend, I was pre-reged for both days of Sterling. It was a UCI race so I was in the 3/4 field. This tweet pretty much sums up the situation: "Elliot's (maybe?) finally teething, lost the acetaminophen, 1130pm CVS run. Sometimes my mom life is not compatible with my cyclocross life." (Indeed, he was teething.) I ended up skipping the first day but made it out for the second. I got to the venue super early to pre-ride and took note of a blind, unrideable dropoff very soon after the start. Many of the women didn't get a chance to pre-ride so I asked Richard Fries, the announcer, to tell everyone about it. (Yes, I am such a mom now.) He was super accomodating and even walked over to the spot and stood in it. No one crashed there (unlike many of the other fields).

I much prefer the small 1/2/3 races, which afford me lots of personal space. The 3/4 UCI races are more crowded and I get a little tentative at the start. I was not very aggressive off the line and ended up riding near a bunch of women I'd never seen before, so I assumed I was doing pretty poorly. At one point, the Tiny Russian was cheering for me and I smiled. She said, "If you are smiling, you are not riding hard enough!" I moved up a bit in the middle and ended up finishing about where predicted, much to my surprise. I was beyond tired and realized that as much fun as I was having, it was time to stop racing for the season.

I hung around for a while and took photos. The ground was frozen for my race but thawed and got sloppy as the day wore on.

Here's the masters 1/2/3 field going through an especially twisty section.

I ended up racing a lot more this fall than I planned, mostly because of my awesome team. Hup United made it so much fun to be out there almost every weekend. I don't miss road racing much -- I think I got my fill over 11 seasons -- but I can't wait for 'cross next fall!

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