Saturday, November 7, 2015

CX Race #8--It Didn't Taste Like Peanutbutter!

You would think us OOA gals would have an advantage in today's race; this being the Deschutes CX Race and our "home court ". After all, we've been practicing for the last couple of months--albeit, dry months. Not only is it a whole different ball game when you add lots of rain, but we did a number of last minute course changes. On top of that, this was the WSBA State Championships. Although, since this was a WSBA race, I got to race in an actual Women's Masters 40+ Cat 4 group. This is the first time I've gotten to race in a Masters Cat 4. The other Masters races are all Cats. Anyway, the course was much different than what we've been practicing. It was a Mudfest of epic proportions!

Deschutes has a reputation for being a flat, bumpy course. However, when you throw gobs of mud, water, and a fair amount of sand, it does not mean it is easy. Nope, not even close! Since the course is just 4+ miles from my house, I rode to the race. It made for a good warmup, especially since I had my rain pants over my warmups, which were over my bib knickers. I was quite warm by the time I got to the park!

Today we had the use of 4 tents, and a bike rack! There's a home court advantage for you! I think they were all Joy Ride tents. Thanks, Joy Ride Bikes! I met up with Jean at Registration. We had to get new numbers (not our WSBA numbers) and timing chips (little square red thingies), and sign the waiver. 

As soon as the Cat 4/5s were done racing (congrats to Roy for winning his race), we hopped on the course at the finish. Right off the bat, we had a huge puddle to go through. I stayed to the left, and that was okay. My feet were instantly soaked as it was several inches deep (more like a foot deep in the middle). Then I came around to the sand. Because there was a u-turn in the middle of the sand pit, I had decided to run the whole thing. Although, it was quite rideable, I knew I wouldn't be able to make the turn, and the process of getting off the bike in the sand would have made me slower than just running it.
A couple of guys riding through the puddle.

The next spot of concern was the trail behind the restroom building. Eric and I had cleared this trail yesterday. The whole section was off-camber. It actually wasn't too bad; at least at the speed I travelled through it. The track behind the fence of the ball field was pretty slippery. Then, coming along the edge of the soccer field, it was quite muddy. I discovered if I stayed to the far right, it was pretty solid. 

Then...The Mud Pit. Since I started watching cyclocross, I've always thought it would be fun, except for this dreaded mud pit. Last year, there was a rut about 7 inches deep by the time the women raced. Yesterday, Eric and I laid down three more wood palates, and filled them in with a bunch of sand. We also added more sand to the drainage part of the pit, on top of the old palates. There were still two very sloppy mud parts before, after, and between the palates. YIKES! Brian had given me some tips for getting through it yesterday. It worked, and I came through remaining upright. 

The next part was muddier than usual, but not too bad. That led to the barriers that had been placed in the bumpy new second half of the "S" curve. No problems there. The new blazed trail through the trees was worse than the mud pit! This mud was very gooey and sticky, as if you mixed peanutbutter and honey. The trick was to keep pedaling. My rear wheel was, at times, spinning, but I made it through. I could feel big glops of mud plopping off my bike after I got out of it. 

Because of all the rain, the course had to be rerouted between two ponds. There was a spot where water ran from one pond to the other (the first one isn't usually a pond--more like overflow). The mud in that section looked horrible, but wasn't really that bad because there was a lot of water (thins the mud making it much easier to get through). 

Then it was the trail through the woods, and the gravel back to the finish. We got off the course, as the juniors had started their race. I felt pretty confident that I could at least do it--not necessarily fast, but that's okay.

At 10:30 we headed over to the start. Call-ups were based on earliest registrations. I actually got called up! For the first time, I was not starting at the very back!
However, I'm not sure it really helped me, because as we started, and came into the grassy mud part along the soccer field, I ended up going right through the middle. It was not the best line. It was very very slow. 

I made it through the mud pit, and started to catch up to some of the gals. I passed Chris, then later, Jean, and a couple other gals. In the third lap after the mud pit, a Cat 1, 2, or 3 gal passed me only to then promptly crash. I put my foot down, but made it around her (she just passed me again moments later--this time managing not to crash). 

Through the PB and Honey section, I managed to stay upright each time. I could see Beth (Starbucks) ahead of me. As we crossed the finish going into the last lap, I was closing in on her. We went through the big puddle, and around to the sand. She rode through, while I got off and ran. At the turn, she couldn't stay on, went wide, and I cut the corner and passed her. See? I knew I'd do better running (geez, I don't think I've ever said that before!!!).

The rest of the last lap I was pretty much by myself. I came across the finish in 8th place. As usual, a middle of the pack finish. 
Sorry it's sideways.

Coming into the big puddle.

Stepping oh so daintily over the barriers.

Am I done yet?

Our finished dirty selves--Jean, Sarah, me, and Chris (missing Karen). Thanks again to Tom for the great photos!

I think one of the most important things I learned from this race is that it is less scary when you are on the course, than when you are watching. Also, although it looks and feels as though you are riding through peanutbutter, it no way tastes like it!

Here's a parting shot of Hal's drivetrain.
And yet, he still shifted just fine! Good job, Hal!

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