|The pain is real (Photo Credit: Stefan Isfeld). Cyclocross LOOOVES photographers.|
My average heart rate at Southern Cross was 176. If we take the 220 - age formula to be true (which it isn't, but that's another story) I was only 5 heartbeats per minute off my recommended max heart rate for the entire race. Given this was the race where I was riding scared, that's pretty F--ing stupid. I didn't even get to stick around for the recovery beer afterward.
First off I must give kudos to the man who wrote this description of last year at Menno Cross because it's perfect. It makes me want to stop writing all cross race reports because the bar has been set too high. All the dis/mounting like "an aborted Triathlon." Brilliant.
Kinda like the series of cross courses this year. The bar keeps getting raised. It appears to be the race discipline of serious games of one-up-man-ship between clubs. I can't speak for Wildwood or St. Malo which I did not race so my assessments would be hearsay but:
At Menno we had mud, mud, and more mud and we had the bunker of terror which paid homage to all amusement park rides known to man. It was agreed upon, all around, that this course would be hard to top.
At Labarrier we had the 16 steps out of hell. But that was about it. I came out of that race thinking that if this was "normal" cross that this wasn't so bad and given that course was lovingly put together in 2 weeks flat by the same cross-loving enthusiasts who created Whittier, well done boys.
And at Southern we had death defying, hay-sliding, downhills that curved at unnatural angles on to other downhills and required an understanding of bike camber beyond my comprehension. Camber. A word I barely understand so I will let Wikipedia do the job. By far, for me, the most difficult race.
And at Whittier we had all of that put together. We had the mud slew, the angled downhills of terror. We had not ONE but TWO stairway climbs created on steep hills immediately followed by a 180 turn on a downhill that went straight into a steep uphill for which most would not have been reclipped at the time of having to attempt that climb. Near-pukage zone of plenty.
It was tough to pre-ride the course as it was meant to be viewed, so I explored it piecemeal prior to race start. I missed the turn down to the river initially because I was in denial that they would do such a thing. I was with another rider who I'd seen at other races but didn't know his name. Its amazing how quickly you can bond with people over phrases like. You've got to be kidding me. Those assholes. OR Where the hell is this course going?
|The downhill section that reminded me of my terror from Southern. (Photo: Dave Benson)|
There was a sharp left that banked on an uneven surface down to the river that ended in a sharp right onto a path where there was tree weaving that culminated in this:
|Clay slew (Photo Credit: Chris Huebner)|
Which is how the word "assholes" slipped out of my mouth. On my pre-ride I happened to "cross" paths with Gary, the mastermind behind the Whittier course, who's excuse was, "Hey that's cyclocross." Yes it is. And I took great pleasure in being witness to the man himself slipping in his own creation during the A race, hitting the back end of his bike on a tree and getting nosed by his own front wheel and breaking his nose. Yes, this IS cyclocross.
Its amazing no one lost a shoe. It rendered pedals unusable for a period of time in any lap. Although points are to be given to Dave's titanium plated Shimano SPDs because from the "talk" after the race, I didn't fair as bad in the clipping and reclipping part as some. Although people (myself included) exaggerate their race woes when they get beat.
I had a great race. I believe I felt like crap. I've forgotten already. I found myself coughing at moments in certain sections of the course which is always the phase-one sign that I'm about to puke. I didn't get lapped. In fact I was the last woman in the race not to get lapped. I believe I came in 6th (out of 12?). My bike carrying skills are improving and after last post's study session with You Tube videos, even my mounts got better as the race went on, even though I can tell by this one sore spot on the inside of my right groin that I was rougher on myself than it felt in the midst of the adrenaline-candy that is racing. I rode my first lap a little scared, still spooked because of my fall in Altona, but the section of the Whittier course that dropped down to the river and had my anxiety raging again, I managed to master after the first lap.
God I love this sport. I love the instant amnesia it creates. And as my friend Jason promised when he ordered (Jason has a way of sounding like he's "ordering" rather than "suggesting") I race cross this year to prep myself to road race next summer, my bike handling skills are getting better and my VO2 max capabilities are improving as well (another concept I only have a rudimentary understanding of). The body is no longer pre-dialed in to one endurance pace.
But my bike handling will never reach THIS outstanding level:
|Paul Benson: The winner of the A race, although I hear he was handed a trip to "Dairy Queen" for the bunny hopping. But what an amazing rider. (Photo credit: Dave Benson)|