Best. Race. Ever.

I can’t believe I’m starting my third season with the Chicago Cross Cup. Mostly because I am in denial about the rapid passage of time, but also because I didn’t think we’d be living here this fall. When teams were re-upping we were in the midst of job offer dealings but it fell through in the eleventh hour. Once I realized we’d probably be here this fall it was too late to get in on kit orders and I decided to go rogue this season. I’m not sure why we all feel compelled to be on a team since the CX scene here is pretty tight-knit.  Anyway, I was Prairie Path Cycles Saturday chatting with one of the owners about our situation and she asked me to race with them. And I was like, uh, the season starts tomorrow. ..why not?? PPC is my preferred local shop and I know and like several members on the team so it’s a good, albeit last-minute, decision.

I raced MTB this summer, felt a little burned from driving to WI so often and wasn’t feeling too enthusiastic about the upcoming CX season. I slacked off at the end of July, just when I should have been ramping up. Then we took a week vacation up in Copper Harbor which was restorative, but not exactly CX training.

I spent the last year wishing the CCC would create a Master Women’s category already…being 38 with a job, small child and wanting to spend more quality time with said child (and spouse) leaves little time to train without making sacrifices. I don’t feel like missing out on family meals, taking up half a Saturday for a long ride or parking the kiddo in front of the TV so I can ride the trainer. This is the time of life when many women racers simply fall off the map or transition to single speed (or Masters if available). Of course this is hard for the CCC folks to understand as most of their lady racers are young and child-free. But, one day those gals will be in my shoes thinking the same thing, so……………. #ifyoubuilditheywillcome  Oh yeah, I’ve been dealing with lovely “things-hurt-for-no-reason” junk that happens when you get older- my hip, lower back and neck have all been pretty sucky lately. For no reason, I tell you!

Anyway, I took my race bike out for the *first time all summer* on Saturday for some openers. Probably not the best idea as you’ll read later. I usually ride my junker B-bike on the Prairie Path because that limestone gravel destroys everything from the bottom bracket to the paint job. My A-bike seemed in good shape and my new wheels felt awesome! However, looking at the pre-reg list, I told Eric that I’d be lucky and happy to even crack the top ten. Ugh. Maybe I should race in WI instead, because they have that coveted Masters category.

Yesterday morning we had an impromptu dance party with AKA doing some crazy breakdancing-style handstands (quite impressive I might add). She is nuts! Needless to say, spirits were high as we left for LaBagh Woods. I love city races since we rarely go there anymore…and there’s usually good food nearby 🙂

After an inspection lap I hit the trainer for a while, checked my air pressure and rolled to the staging area. The whistle blew and off we went- I quickly grabbed Maria’s wheel, followed by Daphne, and the three of us traded places for a while which as kind of fun. After a little skid in one of the turns I realized that I probably had too much air in my tires- they felt fine in the practice lap but at speed, not so much. AND THEN…sometime in the second or third lap, I hit a bump and…crack!, and my handlebars rolled forward a bit. I had no idea what was going on, but after it happened a second time (and the hoods got even lower), I realized that the stem bolts or whatever they’re called were loose. I flipped my stem a couple weeks ago and must’ve forgotten to really torque them down. My position became super awkward especially on turns. Totally slowed me down. So then I figured out that if I put my hands in the drops on a big bump, I could move then back up a bit. I felt pretty smug for my MacGyver-like solution 🙂  But-they kept moving back down, and I knew if they slipped enough I’d have to stop to fix them. Not gonna happen. So I rode the rest of the race conservatively to at least maintain their position. Ugh!

The chase pack was catching up quickly going into the bell lap and I worked my butt off to keep them away. I wanted the podium SO BAD.  By the grace of…something/someone…I managed to hold my place and finish in third. Third!! I haven’t been on a CX podium in ages, and best of all world champion Sven Nys and Sven Vanthournhout were the podium guys! I just doesn’t get better than that.

This is a huge deal for me. I don’t even know how it happened! And I don’t know if I can pull it off again but I’ll sure try 🙂 But first, I shall go tighten my stem bolts…

 

 

 

 

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