For only about the second time in my whole racing career, I raced in the afternoon. Great thing about that is not having to get up so early. Not so great thing about that is a more chewed up course. At least it wasn't muddy. Karen, Cindy and I picked up our bib numbers and timing chips (little tube thingies that you attach to your helmet with zip ties. Karen pinned my number on my back, and I did hers. Also, I had won a 6 pack of Deschutes beer in a random drawing of the pre-registered people. Sadly, I'm not fond of beer. I took my beer back to Karen's car to be doled out later to my teammates.
The most notable characteristic of this course was the amount of sand. Although there was a lot more course that wasn't sand, it didn't seem that way. The rest of the course just seemed like a means to get from one sand section to the other. Before the race, Karen, Katie, Cindy and I rode over to watch the Cat 3 Men negotiate the first sand section. Based on our observations, our plan was to try to ride the first bit to get to the packed sand "path", then get off at the end of the path and run through the deep bit. As for the other sand section, there was no question; get off and shoulder the bike for the entire section (it was at least a couple of miles).
It was time to head for the staging. There were a lot of women! At least more than 100. In Cat 4 alone there were 43 (we were the largest group)! They did call-ups mostly by what brand of helmet you were wearing. I was stuck at the back in the Giro Ghetto. While I had been careful to line up at the front, I ended up starting at the very back. So much for that strategy! We were racing in the same start time as the 1/2 Women, Cat 3, Masters 35+, and Masters 40+ Women. The 1/2s went first. Basically, what that meant was us lowly Cat 4s would be lapped by the 1/2s (and several of the 3s too) and, therefore, have a shorter race. Not necessarily a bad thing in my book!
We were finally sent off. As I approached the first sand, all plans went out the window as there were too many people to even consider trying to ride through. Most notably, all my dismount practice also went out the window as I came to a stop, unclipped my left foot first, then swung my right leg over (not the correct way to dismount in CX). This would be my method of dismounting for this section every time. At least I did it correctly at the other sand, and the barriers.
At the second sand section (after a turny section that included a very soft, off camber, hairpin, and some nasty roots), I dismounted (correctly) and shouldered Hal. Now was the never ending "run" across the entire beach. Although, it may have looked as if I was actually running, it was really just for show. I think I could have walked as fast as I was "running"! I just kept my head down (not really an option for anything else as my saddle was doing a great job pushing my helmet), and tried to see how much sand I could kick into my shoes (at least a pound in each shoe). There was a stair at the end, then we were supposed to remount quickly and continue on. Well, I wouldn't say I remounted quickly. Let's just say, I managed to get back on the bike.
One lap of this probably would have been enough, if I had any say, but we continued for another 2 (or was it 3??). We were lapped by the 1/2s, thus shortening our race. On the last lap, I was grateful to be done with the sand after the second section. I still had the barriers to go over (which I did dismount the correct way, and attempted a reasonably decent remount). After the barriers, it was a mad dash for the finish. Okay, maybe not a mad dash, but I did go as fast as I could in case there was someone behind me.
I met up with my teammates, where we were given refreshing cold drinks called Goleta (or something like that). It was delicious. Of course, at that point, I would have thought anything would have been refreshing!
Karen needed to get going ASAP, so we hit the road before results were posted. No big deal, because they post them online very quickly. We looked them up as we were heading home. Karen and Cindy's results were there, but mine was listed as DNF (did not finish), and Katie was nowhere to be found. As I distinctly recall crossing the finish line, I was perplexed. When I got home and went to unpack my bag, and toss my kit in the wash, I noticed my bib number was on upside down. Hmmm...that may explain the DNF (instead of 866 finishing, it looked like 998). I emailed the organizer. We'll see what happens. As it was, I think I finished somewhere in the mid-20s.
So, another race under my belt annnnnnndddddd...a new crop of bruises on my shoulder! This is so much fun!!!