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!