This past weekend was mostly ups. Some very good moments and some really challenging moments.
My weekend started Friday with the course setup for Whirlybird ‘Cross, the race my team promotes. We were out in the warm sun all day staking and taping and test riding a few sections. I was so tired when I got home that I took a 30 minute nap (unintentionally, just fell asleep on the chair). That said, I was really proud of our 2016 course and the dedication of the team members that had signed on to design and prepare it.
Saturday was a very early morning getting to the donut shop for coffee and donuts to feed the volunteers and then getting to the site to get data entry setup for day-of registrants. On top of volunteer coordination, I was also racing in the Women’s 3/4 race and doing race mom duties to get Stephen prepared to race twice in one day. And it was cold and raining and windy.
Stephen’s first race was the Cat 4/5 men. That is always the biggest field (there were 66 starters, including day of registrants) so I was serving as runner getting the files over to the timer and then picking up Stephen’s jacket and water bottle from him at the start line. I missed the start of his race as I got the USB stick back to registration. When I rode back over to the race course by the finish area my teammates told me that Stephen was winning. At that point I became neurotic psycho mom because he has led races before only to have equipment issues (broken shoe, bike issue) or sloppy technical errors when riding. And while this is our home course, we have never held a practice when it has been this wet, muddy and slick.
Apparently Stephen did have one fall in the woods, but aside from a bruise on his knee it didn’t hurt him or damage the bike so he was able to continue racing and grew his lead to about 30 seconds over 2nd place (the MAC series leader).
In the final lap (which seemed to take AN HOUR) I was standing by the finish holding my breath and grabbing onto all of my friends that were over there. He finally came out of the woods and into sight with no one even remotely close behind him.
At that point I felt tears welling and started jumping up and down screaming as he rode in to victory with arms raised overhead as announcer Derek Green called out Stephen as our race winner crossing the line.
What a proud mama moment! I quickly congratulated him and gave him guidance on cooling down and getting something to eat. I knew that he would be well taken care of at our team’s race so then I was able to focus on my warmup for my race at 10AM. Last year Whirlybird was one of my best finishes in a Cat 3/4 race. Last year was dry, however. I wanted to give the best showing I could on our home course.
The slippery mud was a challenge and the course rode quite differently than pre-ride. That said, I was still able to finish 8th (4th among Cat 4s). My teammates Amanda and Valerie were able to make the podium, so it was a really good day for Guy’s Racing Club (we also had many strong showings amongst our men’s team).
Stephen was also signed up for the Men’s 3/4 race as a second race of the day. He hasn’t done much double racing and his endurance isn’t really developed yet – this is only his first year of cycling. He got off to a strong start but faded through the race. He still had a decent finish but he wasn’t overly happy about it.
We talked a bit about the concept that some races are just for training. Work on your skills, try to ride as smooth as you can and conserve power, and treat it like a workout. Teaching your body to ride on tired legs. That’s how you build that endurance and eventually it will come.
I’ve got another pic here of Stephen running the log in the woods. That log is normally rideable but the slippery rooty mud with a sharp turn leading into it made it easier and faster to run in the early races of the day before the course started drying.
Overall it was a good but tiring day. We had a great crew assembled for course teardown so we headed home to rest and recover after the final running of results from the timers trailer to the registration area was completed.
On Sunday we headed out to Crossasaurus Awesome, a nice event promoted by Philadelphia Ciclismo. Guy’s Racing Club had paired with them to sponsor an unofficial omnium weekend between our races so we wanted to get out there and support the event.
Neither Stephen or I felt great going into the race. His legs were still dead from Saturday. I was generally tired and then managed to crash into a teammate (dumb accident) when we were warming up in the park so I had a last minute bike issue to fix, which meant riding on a different wheel/tire/pressure than I used in pre-ride.
I got a great start but the technical aspects of this course were a bit challenging and I was cautious with my handling, possibly overly cautious and tense. I chose a bad line on a corner into one of the dusty wooded sections and tipped over into thorny bushes. I couldn’t get my foot unclipped from my pedal to get up and I laid there for what seemed like a minute with a ton of women passing me. I finally got up but then I was flustered and managed to slam my handlebars into a tree and went down again almost immediately. UGH.
But…my friend Kelly and I had planned to wear matching dinosaur helmets to this race since the race logo is a T-Rex. As it turned out we ended up racing in close proximity to each other so I decided I no longer cared how I finished and was just going to have fun with it.
The crowd really seemed amused by our costumes and we’d hear people saying – Green, go catch Blue or vice versa depending on where we were in relation to each other. Or they’d cheer for “Kelli/y” and it pumped us both up!
There was even a little riser/hill on one section that had been spray painted with “Jump” and some hecklers were there prompting us to jump. That isn’t a great idea because it takes your line out into the tape for the corner that followed, but I tried it anyway (maybe got 2 inches of air) and got quite a few cheers for playing along.
We were able to ride close to each other for the remainder of the race and cross the finish line side by side (Blue won by a nose!). So that was fun.
Stephen also raced the Men’s 3/4 race. He absolutely didn’t feel like racing but I encouraged him to do it and have fun with it and practice his technical skills. He did and he finished dead last but I’m so proud of him for sticking it out. He even bunny hopped the big log on the course twice (wish I had been over there to see it). I can’t even fathom popping my front wheel high enough to ride it, much less bunny hop it entirely on a cross bike.
Now we’re working on recovering and preparing for HPCX next weekend. We both are racing Sat/Sun, only one race per day. With Stephen’s win he has moved into 6th place in the MAC (mid-atlantic cx) standing for Cat 4/5, with only 3 races of the series under his belt. He’ll race the final three in the MAC series in the 4/5 field just to see if he can crack top three in the final MAC series standings. After that he may consider upgrading to a Cat 3. He earned 5 points from the race this weekend, which is halfway to the requirement for Cat 3 upgrade.
A few more photos from the weekend: