There are three things that you can count on at the Outdoors, Inc. Cyclocross race
1. The wind will be awesome*
2. The course will be a killer power course with grass and punchy hills
3. If you’re female, your barriers include a portion of the Cat4 and “Beginner” Masters men who start just ahead of you.
*And, by awesome, I mean that everyone except for me hates having a 20 mph wind blasting from the south because the “easy” part of the course goes straight into it.
Also, In the race’s defense, #3 is in place because the women’s categories get their own start. It’s just awkwardly placed at the tail of the “B” race. It’s always nice to race in your hometown. That, along with the course/wind/etc. is why the Outdoors race has always been one of my favorites.
Sunday morning, I woke up and very quickly realized that I’d done something terrible to my neck muscles. The previous day, I’d gone to my favorite yoga class in the world. We learned this:
The class wasn’t the issue, though. The problem came later when I was showing off the pose to my parents later that evening following my mom’s birthday dinner (Happy Birthday, Mom). I felt my neck strain a little at the time, but didn’t think anything of it. Turns out, you should warm up if you do stuff like that. Who’d ‘ave thought? You should listen to your yoga instructors when they tell you that yoga isn’t about showing off. As a result , I spent a majority of Sunday morning with a heating pad on my neck/shoulders and periodically rolling the area with a lacrosse ball. It felt slightly better by the time we were ready to leave, so I wasn’t quite ready to panic.
Once we arrived at Mud Island, I registered, pinned my number, and went out to warm up. It was then that I realized that my neck was way more sore than I’d originally thought. It hurt to hold my head up in “normal” riding position, and hitting bumps or trying to be “aero” were almost unbearable. I quickly hunted down some ibuprofen then went back out to warm up in the flat area of the park, hoping for the best.
Luckily, the ibuprofen knocked the pain down a couple of notches before the race started. The competition at the line was the same as the Crossroads Clash CX a couple of weeks before- Lucia, Laureen, and Mary. However, since we’d start a minute or so back from the Cat4 men, I couldn’t go head to head with the leaders of that race as I had previously. We did have the juniors race starting with our group, so when the race started and John Brown (big little brother of Nate Brown) took off after one of the other guys, I grabbed his wheel and stuck around there for the first part of the course.
Because of my neck pain, I hadn’t really warmed up well. As a result, the first lap and a half or so were more painful and less fast than they could have been. Eventually, though, I started feeling good, and decided to leave the junior guys behind (John made a move as if he were going to go after me, but I think he was going just fast enough to win in order to save his energy for the “A” race that followed). The following 20 minutes or so (our race was shortened to 35 minutes) was an exercise in reeling the head-start riders in and attacking the ones who tried to follow (actually harder than it sounds since, as you move through the field, the riders are progressively stronger, and you’re getting progressively more tired).
Not my most flattering finish line photo, but it gets the job done. Within the next couple of months, I’ll have some new shorts, courtesy of Nimblewear. They’re guaranteed to NOT make my ass look 10 pounds heavier because they won’t be the same “thigh to thigh” stripe design of my current kit. If you’re looking for small runs (or large ones, for that matter) of custom kit, you should check them out (they also support people like me, which is even more reason to do so).
After cooling down, milling around at the car for a few minutes, and yelling at Ryan during his race, I received what may be one of the nicer prizes I’ve seen at a race (along with cash- Equal payout for men/women FTW!), a huge, yellow, waterproof duffel/backpack with an Outdoors logo embroidered in the top. It’ll stand out when it’s on the luggage carrier in airports of far-off places when I’m racing next summer…