Wednesday, November 3, 2010

here we go now, here we go (Canton Cup, 30. October 2010).

Ed. note: When we last left our intrepid hero, it was October of 2010, she was procrastinating on her Providence race report. She also wrote this race report in late October/early November, and totally forgot to publish it until now. OOPS.

While it's hardly been the Trail of Tears, and has definitely been an improvement over last year, this 'cross season has, for me, also involved a few near misses. There was crashing out of third place at Loon Mountain in September, getting nipped at the line at Providence after almost beating Karen Tripp, and finishing just off the podium at Granogue both days (6th--don't get me wrong, I got staged in the 5th row, and still won mad prizes, so I'm psyched). In my better races, I've been finishing JUST behind the people earning upgrade points--something that also happened to me at Canton last year.

You either love the course at Canton, or you hate it. I happen to love it, because it suits my strengths--i.e., it lacks tight corners and has a ton of fast running sections. The problem with the speed of the course is that everyone else is going fast too, which makes it harder to tease out a gap: if you crash, you're kinda toast. That's what happened to me last year, when two crashes put me out of 3rd, then 5th, into 6th. So I designated Canton as an "A" race this year, hoping to improve upon last year's performance.

Canton's traditionally held on the weekend right before Hallowe'en, which means that some people don costumes for the race. While I don't oppose 'crosstumes, I've never worn one at Hallowe'en races because of the potential for it to get in the way. This year, though, some guys on the Twitter were freaking out about the potential for costume call-ups, and I ended up freaking out with them and deciding I needed to come up with a half-ass 'crosstume so that I could stay in the front row call-ups occurred. This is how I ended up wearing red Dame Edna-style glasses and affixing devil horns to my helmet with red electrical tape (and those are the kinds of poor style choices I make when I listen to the advice of Cat 4 pros). Of course, only about two or three other girls also had costumes. One chick was dressed as Hulk Hogan, Lodrina from Geekhouse went as The 80s, and Emily Curley ran a disc wheel on her bike so that it would look like a spaceship and travel equally fast.

Unlike Granogue, where I was staged in the 5th row, and Downeast, where I got bogged down at the start, I managed to not screw things up at Canton. I was on the front row, and went up the hill just behind the lead group, which put me through the hole shot somewhere around 8th or 10th. I played it fairly safe through the gravel, because a. whenever I change position on gravel, I crash, and b. I knew I could make up some places more effectively in the grass turns. Once we got beyond the giant rock and hit the grass, it was ON, and I began picking people off.

Meanwhile, further up the course, Emily's spaceship was battling Hope Strode from Wheelworks. By the time we'd passed the first set of barriers and were approaching the brief doubletrack turn in the woods, I'd managed to get myself into third, and kept them both in my sights. When we got through the grass and onto the asphalt, they were working together (or, okay, one of them was sucking the other's wheel), and I kept chasing. At some point (I think during that lap, but my memory is blanking because, well, sometimes racing makes me stupid) Emily managed to shell Hope, and I caught up to her in the grass turns before the runup.

Once it had registered that I was actually in second, my chief mantra became "Fort, don't ---- this up." I still had Emily in my sights, but was hell-bent on racing smart in an attempt to not screw things up as royally as I had last year. So basically, once I got past Hope, my next project was pretty much to not crash at the base of the runup. I didn't--sa-WEET! And I managed to nail the runup, to boot. I was worried that Hope's roadie skills would enable her to catch me on the track section, so I got into the drops and worked my way into the pain cave. This was great, but I was still playing it safe, and needed to push it more. Bramhall could see this in my face when we came out into the short barriers in the final lap, and he yelled at me to not rein it in. That gave me the extra push I needed to keep things moving. I wrapped up the race in second, and it was awesome!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Providence wrap-up later...

... for now, a few more pics from Night Weasels are up at the crossresults team blog.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Night Weasels, Night Weasels: we know how to do it.

I'm pretty sure that, back when Colin allowed me on this team, it wasn't for my Yankovician propensity to turn popular songs into horrific parodies about bike racing (my personal favorite so far: "I'm bringing CXy back / You vain crit racers don't know how to act"). As a result of my bad habit, this past weekend at Gloucester poor Dana had to witness me singing, "Night Weasels, Night Weasels" to the tune of this song:

Fortunately, Dana was buzzed enough not to care. Unfortunately, "Night Weasels, Night Weasels" as sung in Barry Gibb's falsetto has been stuck in my head for the past week and a half. The good news: the race was totally worth it.

Sweens and I arrived at Da Shrew... errr... the Ski Ward around 2:20 (the Princess demanded that we stop en route to buy beverages, and I obliged). Colin put us to work doing course taping and reg-related stuff. It was raining lightly, but not too hard, which meant that, beyond being wet and gunky, the course pre-rides were OK. I was really psyched about the barrier section involving momentum--score! I was also psyched about the fact that crossresults seeding resulted in me being assigned bib no. 13. I'm a total dork, but I've been wanting to do this ever since I watched Transition:

Photo by Chris Gagne

I did two brief bike washes before the race, and by the time we staged, the course was even more disgusting. Even though I like mud, I figured I was pretty hosed since Meredith Miller had preregistered AND Lyne Bessette showed up on the day of, so my plan was to ride as technically solid a race as I could and have a good time. I lined up in the second row behind Miller. There was a little chit-chat about primes, during which Anna Barensfeld threatened to downgrade to Cat 4 because she wanted the Moka pot, and then we waited for the whistle and we were off into the mud and darkness. Being behind Miller was the right decision--I found myself having the best start I've had all year, and was pretty much just floating into the mud. Plus, the inevitable pain of the start was also diffused by the hundreds of shiny glowsticks hanging off of the course tape in the first few turns. Wheeee!

I think I picked up a few spots going over the first bump, and by the time I reached the lighter side of the course, near the barriers (which were so much fun OMG), Colin was yelling, "Christine, you're DEEP IN THE MONEY!" OMG. Money! After that, I honestly spent most of the race enjoying the course and trying to continue not sucking, because I was holding my own in the mud and it was pretty awesome.

Photo by Chris Gagne

At some point I ended up on Frances Morrison's wheel--given that she was wrecking me at Verge races last year, I was pretty psyched. She crashed out in front of me, I went around her, and started chasing Alex Jospe. Holy awesome! I got by her and then she got the spot back and surged ahead.

Then, near the end of lap 3 or 4, Frances caught up to me and went around, along with another rider. We went through the start/finish together but I couldn't keep up. I spent the rest of the time trying to hold off Elizabeth White, but fatigue finally destroyed my handling. I crashed, then she kicked and got around me. When I got to the last half of the last lap, my friend Jen O'Donnell from CB was close behind me, so I tried to keep it as clean as possible and made it over the line in front of her with eight seconds to spare. Also, we were both comfortably on the lead lap with Miller... and in the money!

Getting my first-ever elite payout and having a ton of fun doing it was pretty awesome. Hanging out with a bunch of good friends on a Wednesday night was pretty awesome too. I got home after midnight, but it was totally worth it. Work the next day found me happily wearing last night's glow bracelets. Night Weasels: like my clubbing days, but better.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sucking the Blunt: Blunt Park CX Race, 22. August 2010

Sunday's outing at Blunt Park in Springfield marked my first real 'cross race of the season (sure, the EFTA Big Ring Rumpus was awesome, but it took place in early June, was over an hour long, and didn't include any dismounts, so it doesn't quite count as a 'cross race). More importantly, it was my first 'cross race in the new team kit.

Back in June I made a decision to join up with some fellow geeks at for the fall season, and I haven't regretted it (yet... ask me in December). It's really fun to be teammates with folks who share my deep-seated passion for INTERNET! and terrible puns. Case in point: over the week leading up to the race, e-mails were flying back and forth on the team mailing list, as we all tried to come up with as many seventh grade-style "blunt" jokes as possible.

Anyway, I was pretty excited about rocking our new Squadra kit, because (a) it looks awesome and (b) it involves a pair of bib shorts that actually grip my "oh my God you're tiny, are you SURE you're a bike racer?" legs. SPEAKING OF AWESOME: my friend Aumiller, who also was at Blunt, gifted me the most awesome pair of tall socks ever. They say "I'M WITH AWESOME." Aums quipped that perhaps I shouldn't wear the socks that day... because, say, what if I *wasn't* awesome? False advertising would, like, totally suck.

Apparently Aums is a clairvoyant, because I really wasn't with Awesome during most of the race. I lined up in front, but didn't react quickly enough at the start, and got bogged down behind almost all of LadiesFirst. Caught up to Giulia of Central Wheel, passed her in the first barrier, and battled her for a while on the first lap, but crashed myself out as she got away. D'oh! Then I was chasing another woman who kept remarking to her friend on the sidelines, "Auggggh, she's sticking to me like PEANUT BUTTER!" Ever the ambassador of the fledgling brand, I coolly replied, "Damn right I am!" and then promptly lost my hold on her in, like, the next lap.

I did manage to keep the racer who was chasing me behind me, and finished in the top half and on the lead lap, which is much better than I did at Blunt last year (remember that chick in green who was shouldering her bike for 3/4 of a mile after getting a mechanical in a crash? Oh right, that was me), but still isn't slaying by any stretch of the imagination. But hey, IT'S AUGUST. Colin always says that it's OK to suck on Saturday as long as you don't suck on Sunday. I say it's OK to suck in August as long as you don't suck in September. We'll see how that works out.