Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Demons of Southern Cross

So I packed up the picnic basket and the offspring and drove off to Altona to try out my third Cyclocross race on Sunday. I have Fort Garry Bike Club and Menno Cross Guru Chris Huebner to thank for the picture. It shows exactly how much of a cyclocross newbie I am as I look peg-legged and awkward all in one shot. How can practically the lightest bike made for cyclocross out there look like it's too heavy? I carry my bike like a girl.

This was the only section of unnatural barriers on this course and it was the least of my troubles in this race. The course was atypically long, approximately 4 km, which worked to my benefit in two ways. First it meant that I didn't get lapped. And second it meant that I only had to tackle this stuff for 4 laps.

The mound of terror (from ABES)

I got to the race nice and early and sent the kids off to play on the play structure and the sawdust mound surrounding the course site. I did two warm up laps and I wasn't far into the first one when I found out what I was in for. I very nearly packed up the bike and the children and drove the hour and 15 minutes back to the city as fast as I could.

First I hit the hill. It came at me off a blind corner so I didn't know it would be there until it was too late and I didn't have enough momentum to get up.

There I am behind these two local racers. It was faster to run the bike up (ABES)

And not long after that came the nearly 180 degree downhill turn. It was one thing to get around the corner. It was another thing to get around the corner and head into a 12 degree downhill grade. I was braking a little too hard and then friction failed me and gravity took over I went down on my left side hard.

And that was it. I was left scattered and shaken. I stood at the bottom of the hill and picked the hay out of the spandex. A couple of Woodcock riders came after me on their warm up and the guy sailed down on his mountain bike and the girl went sailing into the hay. This is foreshadowing. Naturally.

I rode the rest of the course gently and then made myself do a second lap to try and work the kinks out but on my second lap I took one look at the hill and I was off my bike running down. There were two other difficult corners that lead into downhill that similarly had me shaking. I went up to Colin, my coworker who was also commisionairing the race and said: If they have to air lift me off this course during the race, someone needs to know that my children are here with me. 

There is nothing like starting a race believing you are going to die. I hoped the adrenaline would kick in and I would develop balls during the race but, alas, it was not to be. I did manage to actually ride down that hill once on the second lap -- it was an uncontrolled-feet-unclipped-shaky-decent which didn't help my cause so it was also the one and only time I went down seated on my bike.

Lead up to the downhill death drop. (ABES) Don't let its gentle appearance fool you. Its about to turn and get deadly. 

I hope to read this report next year and laugh at my skill-less dumb-twittery. Next year, I will know how to handle that stuff. I will also know how to mount and dismount properly. You read it here first.

A brilliant and epic sand wipe out for this dude. At least the landing was soft. (Woodcock)

And it might be handy to know how to handle riding through sand so that this doesn't happen. I didn't have to worry about wiping out in sand. I ran through it.  Sand was a factor at the St. Malo race as well. It would have been nice to have made both races. There were some pretty sweet prizes if you did but, alas, it was not meant to be.

So it was a great race. Hope I can shake off the demons before the next one at Whittier Park this weekend. Chris from FGBC informs me it is more road friendly. Ahhhh...good, and given that my bicycle benefactor is executing race avoidance tactics, I assume I will still have "the bike." He might have to arm wrestle me for it to get it back.


CycleChick said...

Nothing like a little near death to get the heart rate up! Well done!

Lisa said...

Momentum is your friend! And downhills still freak me out too, but I'm much better now! Bravo!

Terri said...

You know, your race reports are almost scaring me out of cross racing. ;)

Kim said...

I wished for my mountain bike 18 times in this race.. 3 times for each lap I did including the warm up. There were 3 corners and hills that were challenging. At least on the mountain bike I would have been upright. Remember a cross bike is road position so essentially all those steep downhils were like diving head first down the hill. Aaaaannnddd all that hanging your butt off the back of your seat is not quite as simple. You put your weight back a bit but you can't get right off the back, the position doesn't allow for it.