Today was the 5th MFG race--"North 40 CX". It was on the grounds of the LeMay Foundation in Spanaway. It was about a 45 minute drive, and Tom and Chris picked me up.
I have to say, I was a little nervous. It had rained solidly yesterday, and continued to rain this morning. What happens when you add a lot of water to grass and dirt paths, then mix well with churning bike tires? That's right! You get MUD! Lots of slippery, slimy MUD. Have I raced in mud? A little bit, but nothing like this! Supposedly, this is real cyclocross! Uh...okay...
We got our stuff on and headed out for a pre-ride lap before the next race started. SLOWLY, I made my way around the course. There were still some grassy spots that hadn't been turned to mud...yet. I took advantage of those. Then I came to the first "run-up" (the quotation marks are because I don't exactly run up the hill. I'm doing good if I can walk at a steady speed. Fortunately, I got toe spikes yesterday for my shoes. They made it a lot easier to walk up the muddy hillside).
See the dark part? That's the hill we had to "run" up. The riders in the photo have just come down from the ridge.
I came back down and worked my way over to the second run-up (or, walk-up, as was the case here too). This one was also mud, but with a number of fist-sized rocks thrown in. The descent for this one was a semi-steep bit of singletrack. There was the obligatory set of barriers back down on the flat.
We had to get off before finishing the whole course because the next race was starting. After that race finished, we got back on, and did another loop; this time covering the part we had missed. Afterward, Jean and Cindy hopped on their trainers.
Notice the mud up Jean's back. That's just from the pre-ride.
I was still feeling a wee bit nervous, but not as much as before. While we were waiting to go to the staging area, Jean looked at me and said, "I'm just going to ride it." I said, "That's what I always do!"
Here we are, Cindy, me, Chris, and Jean, just before heading over to the staging. Sarah raced too, but didn't get in the "before" (aka "clean") photo.
We went to the staging area to line up. It was the usual order of Cat 1/2, Cat 3, Masters 35+, Masters 40+, and us Cat 4s. After the call-ups, I thought, great, I'm not at the very back! Then I turned around to find absolutely no one behind me. Okay, I'm at the very back...again.
We got the 10 second warning, and were soon off. The first turns are always a little hairy as we are all still bunched up. The first run-up came quickly. I managed to pass one gal going up the hill (surprisingly, there is someone who trudges slower than me)! Later, as I was riding along, I thought, "This is going to be a hard course to pass people." Of course, those with better skills seemed to pass without any problems. However, I wasn't going to give up trying. I set my sights on the blue number in front of me. On a wider, slightly less muddy section, I was able to pass her. Okay, one down! On the second lap, I caught up to Cindy, and was able to pass, only to have her pass me again. But, I managed to get around her just before the singletrack section (you would think there would be zero chance of anyone passing on the singletrack descent, but a 1/2 gal zipped by me in the third lap). I think it was on the second lap, at the bottom of the singletrack (where there was a ton of mud...and a turn) where I came upon Jean putting her chain back on. I passed her there.
At the barriers, I was able to unclip my left foot before unclipping the right, and swinging my right leg to dismount. I've been practicing unclipping the left foot first, so there is no chance of not getting it unclipped right when I need to (and repeating my graceful tumble into the dirt like I did in Eugene). I was also able to do that before the first run-up, but not the second. At the second one, there was just too much squishy mud.
Thanks, Tom, for the photo. I actually look like I'm having fun! Although a grimace can sometimes look like a smile!
In the third and fourth laps, I was getting much more comfortable riding through the mud. By then, however, it had not been raining for awhile, so parts of the course were actually starting to dry a little. There was still tons of mud, but on the flat sections up on the ridge (maybe they hadn't been quite as wet) it was getting easier.
I was thrilled to finish the last run-up. Now I just had one more dismount over the barriers, and then the finish. On the last sharp corner (very muddy), I just about crashed. I slid quite a bit, but managed to keep it upright. A guy on the sidelines was cheering me on saying, "You got it! You got it!"
All of us OOA gals gathered at the finish for an "after" (aka "dirty") photo. The photo below doesn't do justice to our level of dirtiness. Perhaps we should have turned our backsides to the camera (Sarah would have taken the prize on that one as she had crashed, landing on her back...quite the mudslick)!
Chris, Cindy, Jean, me, and Sarah.
Here's a photo of dirty Hal.
And here's a close up of his drivetrain filthiness.
The dirtiest Hal's ever been!
So, I finished 20th out of 29. Not exactly middle of the pack, but that's okay. I'll take it!