After Phase 1 of the season ended with the Rochester Ellison Park races, I had the chance to catch up on some other things...
Seeing my adorable niece and nephew:
Joining Ted King's Krempels King of the Road Challenge, a ride up in NH that raises money to support those who've suffered brain injuries:
Experimenting with three iterations of gluten-free parsnip gnocchi, and holding a blind taste-test:
And sipping some luxurious hot chocolate from Burdicks in Harvard Square.
But, this past weekend it was time to get back underway with the season! The two weekends off were as much about getting in some solid training as they were about a break from racing. My good friend and mtb teammate Jeff took me out for some motor pacing
and Josh and I duked it out at a local race as part of an ongoing family tradition that always reminds me how much I owe to my family when it comes to racing success. Not only are my brothers good at it, but they also embrace the fun in the sport! (After a terrible start, I fought my way up to the lead group Josh was in and managed to sneak out the win over my brother.)
The Cincy 3 festival always falls on the same weekend as the NoHo races. With my full time teaching job I’d always opted for the closer weekend, and even more importantly, I always cherish “home” races and enjoy supporting the local scene. This year I was sad to miss NoHo, which included missing my annual visit my second cousins who own a maple sugar farm near there, and a visit or several to Haymarket Cafe downtown. However, many folks have raved about the Cincy courses and I was excited to check out a new venue, well make that three.
Initially, coach’s suggestion was to sit out Friday and race just the C1 and the Continental Championships on Saturday and Sunday respectively. However, with the forecasted rain and the opportunity for a new challenge (I’ve never done a 3-day cx weekend) I just had a hankering to race in the mud and to do all three so I did.
Thursday afternoon, I ventured down to a bike path I’d scouted out on Google maps. I passed what I thought was a lovely waterfall, only to be informed later that the sign I'd unintentionally captured revealed it was a waste water treatment run-off. Well, it's not easy to make trash pretty...so kudos Ohio.
Friday’s race came down to mastering slick, muddy course conditions. Brrrr it was cold! Chris and Taylor had a nice fire roaring in the tent which made this truly feel like cross season:
And David Wilcox offered a very timely espresso just before race start.
The mud was slimy and slippery, and many succumbed. I had a decent start, and was battling with a group for about 5th-8th place for most of the race. We went back and forth as one or another of us would slide out, and someone else would capitalize, only to then slide out a bit later on.
Unfortunately, seeing the time lost as women exchanged bikes in the very small pit area, I opted not to switch bikes and ended up dropping my chain in the last lap. It took a lot of precious time to get it back on and I ended up losing further spots, finishing in 10th. However, I felt good and looked at it as a good opener for the C1. Post race, a bunch of us huddled for warmth while we watched the guys duke it out. Kerry had a fantastic race finishing 6th.
Needless to say, I had used up every piece of clothing I'd brought with me, as well as a pair of Taylor's rain pants, and every one was plastered in thick mud. I swear some very clever racers paid off the hotel staff to claim that there was no laundry available in order to get dibs on the machines. Into the tub it was.
To my dismay, the tub would not drain at all and I had to use the ice bucket to scoop all the dirty water out into the toilet. It took two hours to finish my laundry the old fashioned way and I collapsed into bed.
Saturday morning, I met up with Caroline Mani, Erica Zaveta, Laurel Rathbun, and Jamey Driscoll for another spin down by the river.
That evening there was a nice 45 minute window of time blocked off for course previewing, giving the chance to compare tires, tire pressure, and scout out the details of the course in daylight. I opted for Chicanes at 20psi. The course featured a steep, small moundain (combo mound + mountain) in the center which riders climbed and descended in tightly turning succession about five or six times per lap. It was deliciously leg-crushing. There was also a sand pit, and a ditch.
Dusk was just settling as we lined up.
I had a very good start, but slowly faded as several riders simply were stronger on some of the power sections. I fought to catch 7th in the final laps, but ended up getting outsprinted by Georgia Gould and finished 9th instead!
In the final lap, my decision not to wear glasses came back to haunt me. My eyeballs froze and became completely hazed over so I could barely see and I hit stakes like a slalom skier in my reckless path to the finish.
Sunday morning, Erica and Jamey and I took a another jaunt to the river, trying to shake a double-race fog. The sun and fall colors were stunning.
Now, Sunday was the first edition of the Continental Championships and moreover was held at the queen venue of the three. Most riders concurred that the course was one of if not the best course held on American soil. It combined tricky off-camber, technical descents, tricky run-up/climbs, and power sections. More than most courses, it really required focused pre-riding and practicing particular sections multiple times. Well done Cincy 3!
I had a dismal start, but patiently worked my way up through riders to atta