Earlier in the Summer, Chad from Nimblewear asked if I’d be interested in the “Wheelers and Dealers” race at Interbike. I wasn’t sure if I was going to Interbike, and was less sure that I wanted to race, so I told him I’d get back to him. Fast forward to August-ish, and I decided that I was game for both. However, when I went to register, I saw that the Wheelers and Dealers race registration was full. So, I entered the Elite Race. Nevermind that it’d be my first CX race of the season, my first Elite-level race since 2009, and that I’d never flown with my bike anywhere.
Wednesday morning, I paid the $150 one-way ticket for my bike and headed off to Vegas. Thankfully, my flight was a direct one, and, with the hop across two time zones, I landed with plenty of time to find a shuttle, get checked in (side note- when you check in “early” at a Vegas hotel, they charge you out the ass), and put my bike together. Turns out, I’d have one more chore… when the plane landed and I touched base with the person who was supposed to give me a ride from the strip to the course, he informed me that he’d decided not to go, and that his car was full of stuff from the previous day’s outdoors demo event…
So, while I was in the process of shuttling, getting my bike together, etc, I mentally prepared myself to ride to the course from the hotel (not a huge deal, but not what I really wanted to do, given my lack of planning for that sort of thing). However, I enlisted the powers of social media and found a ride with a friend of pro racer Adam Myerson.
Hotel room workstand:
After finding lunch and settling in, I needed to find the expo center and touch base with the Nimblewear guys, who’d made a special Interbike-edition pink houndstooth skinsuit for me (see right edge of photo)
(Side note- Haven’t found any action shots… Even though I raced head to head with both Amanda Carey and Judy Freeman throughout the race, all of the photographers managed to keep me out of those ladies’ photos.)
Nimblewear’s got a new long sleeve skinsuit cut that I’m gonna have to get my hands on soon. IT’S GOT THUMBHOLES!!!!
I only got lost 3 times while trying to get through the 2 casinos that separated the lobby of the Luxor from the convention center in the Mandalay.
After hanging out for a few minutes, I headed back to the room too put my feet up and roll my legs before meeting up with Chad (the Twitter connection) to get out to the race venue. As I was walking in, I saw Bob Roll:
Then, I found the guys from Swiftwick, who had their van set up right next to the course. They were nice enough to let me camp out there a little (ok, a lot), change in their van, and help me pin my numbers. If you’ve never owned a pair of Swiftwick socks, comment below, tell me why, and I’ll email you back with a code for 40% off a pair from their website. Your only regret will be figuring out what to do with all of your other socks.
I made sure to start rolling around a little earlier than usual to warm my legs up slowly after flying/walking all day. They were little argumentative at first, but eventually the power started to creep back. As soon as the course was open, I headed out for a pre-ride. The course gets a bum rep for being a “grass crit” and lacking in technical features. True, it’s a super power-course, but, as I’d find out later, being able to ride “crit” speed on wide open grass turns is a technical skill in and of itself.
As bib number 51 of 54, I had the honor of a back-row spot in staging. I didn’t stress it, though, and it actually turned out to be beneficial to NOT being caught in the pileup that happened just before the first left-hander off the start line. As soon as we were into the first turns of the course, I was starting to get into a good rhythm. I also noticed that most of the women around me were going slower around the turns than I wanted to. Once I was around them, I started trying to pace myself and use the momentum of “grass crit” turning to my advantage. It was working great until one of the last turns of the lap, when I came out of my coasting a little early and drove my left pedal into the ground at 500 watts. My mistake lifted my rear wheel and bounced it diagonally into the ground hard enough to burp air from the rear tire and stack me into the grass.
When I got up and remounted, my rear tire squirmed and the rim threatened to bump the ground, ending my “turn faster than everyone else” strategy. Oops. The remainder of the race had me head-to-head with Rebecca Gross (master’s worlds 2012 winner), Judy Freeman (from the Crank Brothers team), and Amanda Carey (among others). The crowds were amazing, and, around the run-up area, the sound was nearly deafening.
The last two laps, I was fading hard, and, as the last lap started, a small group came around me. Amanda was in the back of it, so I hopped on her wheel. The rest of the group started to pull away, but I didn’t want to blow myself up harder by trying to stay with them. So, I stayed where I was and caught my breath enough so that, as we approached the last long, heavy-grass power hill of the course, I went around with everything I had left. I didn’t want to look behind me, but on the last set of stairs, I could hear the crowd yelling for Amanda. I dug harder and finished a few seconds ahead of her and just behind the group that’d passed a few minutes earlier… 32nd place.
The dust and the effort on course absolutely destroyed me. I cooled down and got a ride back to the hotel just as the men’s race was staging. Great race? Hell yeah- it’s awesome to have a rowdy crowd and a lot of really amazing women to race against. Back at the hotel, I cleaned up and struck out on a dinner mission, finding a fancy burger place just before the kitchen closed. In bed by midnight on my first night in Vegas… hell yeah again.