Over the last week, the planets aligned for me to leave town for the weekend and race cyclocross on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday was Keep Calm and Race Cross- the race for which I’d built up the World Sickest Crosscheck. Then, on Sunday, there was a race in North Alabama where I was to meet up with someone from that area to sell Ryan’s Felt Solo mountain bike.
My plans were nearly foiled when I had a random bout of tendinitis in my left Pes anserinus. It literally started hurting when I stood up from my desk and walked across the house sometime Thursday afternoon. After a day of ibuprofen and kinesiotape on Friday, I decided I’d go race anyway since it wasn’t pedaling that’d made it hurt in the first place. So, Saturday morning, I left before Sunrise to head to Nashville.
Nashville racing is fun, because there’s a generous handful of fast women out there (8 of us in the W1/2/3 race- “large” by Tennessee standards). The course was very technical with only a couple of extended “power” sections. There was also a beer tent full of hecklers and a steep/off-camber spot with more hecklers and a doughnut hole/feather boa handup.
Tons of fun from the start- I got the holeshot and started up the switchbacked hill where the beer tent was. I didn’t get in the most thorough warm-up, so I didn’t go to plaid straight from the gun. At the top of the hill, a small group of us had strung everyone else out across the course. I zoomed down the sweeping turns on the other side and over to the steep/off-camber spot. Once I was clear of it and heading up the pavement/grass to the next techy section, I looked back, and everyone was gone.
I cleared the run-up and, as I was re-mounting, heard the run-up hecklers yelling for the next woman behind me. Still a close race- I was starting to get my legs going and kept the hammer down. Soon after that spot, there was a fast downhill section and a super tricky turn. I came into it way too hot and, as I grabbed my brakes a little too hard, I caused the front one to shudder, which made me lose front tire traction and bite the dirt HARD. I think my bike came out from under me almost endo-style, because even though it was a left-hand turn, I banged my right elbow and shin and twisted my right shifter around a little. Luckily, the bike and I were serviceable enough to keep racing. I wasn’t the only one to hit the dirt there- Jess Owings, who was nice enough to let me crash at her place that night- went down hard on her left shoulder, causing her to DNF the race.
The last part of the course allowed for a clear view of who was behind you. When I looked back at that point, there wasn’t anyone close. I put it in cruise control. I tend to not take chances as much once I’m out in front. I did, however, have a run-in with a thorn bush on the next to last lap- there was a small turtle flipped over near the apex of a fast right-hand sweeper. I looked down at it and made an effort to not run it over, and by the time I looked up, I was headed into the bushes. They were, by far, some of the most vicious thorn bushes I’ve ever encountered, and I ended up with blood and plant parts stuck over the entire left side of my body as well as in my chin. Wildly distracted, I dismounted at the steep part I’d been riding easily on every lap and ran up the hill, brushing thorns out of my arms, legs, and face.
It slowed me down enough that Kat Williams started to close down the gap on me. I got my isht together and picked the pace back up before the last lap, where I ended up with a beer handup, feather boa, and somehow managed to stay almost a minute ahead of her. FTW!
After the adrenaline and ibuprofen wore off, my sore knee was still tweaked-feeling, so I decided to bail on the singlespeed race. Instead, I headed to the beer tent to heckle. The guy who later won the singlespeed race (tragically hip, in the background of the photo) convinced me to do the 2 lap open race. Going from beer:30 back to racing isn’t really my thing, but it was a good time, nonetheless.
By that time, the cops said we should leave the park…
I followed Jess and her husband Mike to a killer burger joint, where I called-off the beer drinking for the afternoon/evening and had a delicious house-made mint soda instead. Then we headed back to their place to chill and watch some football. Perfect finish to a great day of racing and hanging out with friends…