According to the calendar, today was "Talk Like a Pirate Day". So, of course, I wore my red and white striped socks with the skull and crossbones! We were back at St. Edwards State Park in Kenmore. This was where I did the Women of Cross beginner clinic and race. Except, today, the course was much different. It was longer, and far more technical.
On my first preview lap, I came to a section of single track. Now, single track itself doesn't scare me too much, but when it goes off what looks like the precipice of death, then goes steeply downhill, yeah...that's a little scary. I came to a screeching halt at the top. In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, "Arrrgggg! What is this???" It took me a moment to get up my gumption and go. Okay, scary, but doable. As for other obstacles, there were two sand pits, some stairs, a couple of steep uphills, some short barriers, and many hairpin turns with a few being off-camber.
Since Bryan raced at 12:00, and I didn't race until 1:00, I had a couple more opportunities to ride the course. Each time I got a better feel for the best lines. I even managed to go down the single track without stopping at the top. Well, one other time I stopped because someone was going past me. It was scary enough going alone. Wasn't going to try it with someone else.
Then, it was time for us gals to line up. Today, OOA was represented by Katie, Jean, and me. Katie raced in the Cat 4s, and Jean and I raced in the 50+ Masters. The reason we raced masters is because they seldom have a 50+. The only downside is that 50+ Masters is all categories. That means we could be racing against Cat 1 women who happen to be over 50. Although I don't think there were any Cat 1 gals, there might have been a Cat 2, and there were definitely a number of Cat 3s. But, there were a few of us Cat 4s too. I just didn't want to be last.
We got the whistle to go (we were the last wave of the women). I was able to pass a couple of gals right away. Whew! I knew I wouldn't be last! The first obstacle was the steep hill by the stairs. I made it almost to the top, but ran out of oomph to get up the last bit of a lip. I was close enough that I didn't need to get off. Next was the sand. The first pit was easy. There was a good line through it. Around a couple of turns, and into the second pit. This one was a little trickier. Jean was right in front of me and her rear wheel slid over just in front of my front wheel. I had to put my foot down. Again, close enough to the end to not have to get off. Around the corner and we were to the barriers. These were short, so I was actually able to run over them (probably not totally gazelle-like, but better than usual). Jean and I were together, but I was able to get back on a bit faster, and got ahead of her. Next up was a tight off-camber hairpin. We had watched the others negotiate this. I had a plan, and that plan was...go slow! What do you know? It worked!
The next part was a fairly fast grass section with some more turns. Here I was able to pass another gal. After a tight "S" turn, we came to about 4 stairs. Off the bike, run up the stairs, get back on, keep going! Then there were a couple of short roller coaster hills, more open grass areas, a tight corner over roots at the base of a tree, and around to the top of the precipice-of-death single track part. Right at the top, the gal in front of me tipped over. Amazingly, I managed to go around her and dive down the trail. The trail went down, around a couple of corners, and then climbed back up. In the pre-ride laps, I'd been unable to ride all the way up. This first lap was no different. I tried, but my back wheel spun out on a root, so I had to get off. I ran the remaining short section to the logs that we had to step over and finish running up to the top before getting back on. The remaining section back to where we would finish was not terribly difficult, and provided good spots to pass.
The highlights of the remaining laps (4 total...I think...I lose track) were being able to ride up the steep part by the stairs without putting a foot down, and riding through both sand pits. I also managed to ride up the single track part to the logs every lap after the first one. On one of the laps, there was a gal right behind me going up that part. She was telling me, "You got this! Keep going!" Although I thought that was pretty sweet of her, I know she really didn't want me to stop because she would have had to stop too. But, this is cyclocross, and everyone is very nice and encouraging.
I ended up finishing 8th out of 12. Curiously, I looked at the Cat 4 results. Ratio-wise (there were more than twice as many in the Cat 4 race), I think I would have finished about the same position. Meaning, I probably would have finished somewhere around 19th or 20th. I know I passed some Cat 4s. So, I will race Masters 50+ again, if the opportunity arises.
It was fun today. A little scary at first, but the more I rode, the more confident I became. That's a good thing! ARRRRGGGG!!!! (does a pirate say anything else???)