Saturday, November 20, 2010

race report: OBRA Oregon State CX Championships, Salem

This will be a slightly truncated report, because my personal results were not spectacular and because tonight the tank is officially empty. I left it all out on the course: a very, very hard course, a brutal course, with mud-cum-paste, sickly slick off-camber switchbacks, and an absolutely soul-draining run-up (yes, I know, some people rode up it, but a lot of people did not, could not, and I fell into the latter group) that makes the Stagecoach Road at the Sherwood short-track course look like a freaking cakewalk. (If you remember, I rode up that one on my last lap, in 97-degree heat, after ingesting nearly half a pound of dust. This run-up was simply stupider, longer and harder.)

So to say that I suffered on this course would be an understatement. I suppose that, in the world of cyclocross, suffering to the point where your eyes fall out on the course is sort of the point (for some, it's the only point, but I digress). And if that was all that had happened it would've been fine. But on top of that, I came dangerously close to repeating an experience from my short-track season, where I was the absolute last person on the course and they were about to send off the next heat of racers. In this case, I was close enough to the end of my final lap that they went ahead and sent them off anyway, with two "sweep" riders (who were there to keep pre-riders from being on the course while a race was happening) riding behind me shouting encouragement, yelling at me to push and to keep going.

(A guess as to why this happened: on my second lap, at the top of this stupid, stupid run-up, I felt suddenly and dangerously short of breath, and was forced to pull off to one side so I could use my emergency inhaler. It took me fully three whole minutes to regain enough breath to continue, and I'm sure that lag-time contributed to my race result along with my walking sections of the aforementioned stupid, stupid run-up. Excuses? Sure, I guess. But the reality is that today I was racing at a state championship, in a category where I was in over my head, on a course where I was in waaaaaaay over my head. And all of that is probably why it went down this way.)

On the bright side of things, OBRA did give me credit for all of my laps and did not pull me, allowing me to finish my race. And although the going was very rough -- there were boggy sections of Nutella-like mud that gave even technical-loving ME pause, and would certainly have scared the crap out of someone coming from, say, southern California -- I managed to handle my bike reasonably well, not crashing once (though I did come close).

Another bright spot was watching friends race: Mielle, who is a freaking Rock Goddess on a steep, fast, upward trajectory to Superstardom and who kindly offered to transport me and Stompy to Salem today. (Thanks to her, I got to see how The Other Half races: a tent, chairs, a portable power-washer, and a nice comfy place to dump my stuff during the race. This is living!)
And Kristin, who raced Womens' Singlespeed and finished two spots out of last place, then immediately turned around and raced with Beginner Women where she got 8th out of 15 racers there. Ah, youth and strength are beautiful things to have in tandem and it was so great to see her enjoying the benefits of both all at once. She truly rocked it.

Finally -- and for me, this was the brightest spot of all -- there were 15 women on the starting line of the Womens' Singlespeed category today; the largest number to date and a definite sign that more race promoters really ought to make room for this category to blossom and grow. The fact that I got my head handed to me by some well-trained, super-fit, truly fast women did not bother me in the least; anyone who medaled today earned it on a crazy-hard course.
Once again I want to say Thank you to all the women who had enough faith to sign up for the category, and to the race promoter for including the category at the state championship race. Between today's showing and the fact that there will be National Champions' jerseys on the line in Bend for Mens' and Womens' Singlespeed categories, I am hopeful that Cross Crusade can find a way to include the category in next year's series.

My result: 15th place in a ridiculously talented and strong Womens' Singlespeed field.
I did not get many pictures at all, and few of them worth sharing; but I am hopeful that eventually some decent photos will surface on the Web that I might be able to download and share with family and friends.
Tonight, post-shower, dinner, a footrub (thank you, Sweetie!), hot tea and a teeny-tiny nip of vodka before bedtime, I am utterly completely spent, having expended a degree of energy and sheer will that I did not know I possessed.


Nita said...

We chatted at the start and I was right back there with you (in over my head and fully expecting to get pulled from the course at the end). Craig got a few pictures of you...I'll be sending a link out to the OBRA list as soon as they're done uploading.
Thanks for pushing for the women's singlespeed field. I hope more promoters will include it so I can try it out on a course that's not so incredibly difficult!

Kelly C said...

Wish I could have been there to see you and cheer you on! Our son is home from Mississippi for a couple of days so we were pretty busy yesterday afternoon. I always enjoy reading the post-race summaries...sounds like you were pleased with your effort!
Here's a little tidbit of trivia: that reddish clay stuff you're still cleaning out of your bike chain is the official state dirt! It's called "Jory," and it's perfect for growing Pinot Noir and other varieties of wine grapes. A few years back some local wineries lobbied hard to our legislators...yes, Salem has pushed its dirt onto the whole state...who knew?

bikelovejones said...

I have a friend who is a geotechnic engineer (she majored in "dirt" at MIT) who would love this tidbit. And yes, it definitely gunks up the drivetrain.

bikelovejones said...

Nita -- Good on you for hanging tough on a ridiculous course (that I understand gave the pros pause, too).
I hope you'll come back for more -- and definitely consider racing short-track next summer, because that is a whole lot of fun!
Cheers --Beth

jenn levo said...

hey beth, nice getting to meet you yesterday and thanks for really pushing the wmns SS category all season long! thanks to you and your advocacy, the state champs promoter thought fit to include us and hopefully thanks to our attendance, more people will think to add this category to our races next year in the crusades. it was a blast and a really fun and challenging course. i enjoyed racing bikes with my SS peers and knowing that when i was struggling on that run-up, we were all struggling on that run up. What a great equalizer! see you next year eh? :)

bikelovejones said...

Jenn -- it was a pleasure to meet you at OBRA Champs and absolutely gratifying to see the number of women who signed up to race Singlespeed.

The truth is that my advocacy is fed by equal parts fantasy and reality:

1. The reality is that I am convinced more women would give singlespeeding a try if they did not have to compete against two hundred men who are faster than shit;

2. The fantasy is that, even though I started racing rather late in life (comparatively speaking), when I ride my singlespeed I can almost pretend I'm 12 again and killing it on my cheap imitation BMX bike -- BUT with the added fearlessness that I have since developed as an adult.

I pay for this fantasy by being old and slow and decidedly NOT fit; but so far it has been worth it every time, even if I finish DFL, and even if it takes me a whole week to recover from my efforts (which I think it will this time).

Thanks for racing SS this weekend!
Absolutely I will be back to race with you next year!