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Day January 24, 2008

Inauguration into the cross scene

Originally I had wanted to go down to Thomson Days last weekend, but I needed to get some work done for clients, so a weekend away wasn’t doable. Instead, I took a day trip to do my first cyclocross race in Columbia, TN. Jim, Emma and I carpooled there; I was white knuckled half the time with Emma’s crazy brit driving. I figured if I survived that, the race should be a piece of cake! (speaking of sweets, I had bought a white chocolate raspberry scone from Stone Cup for my post-race indulgence, but that was sacrificed to Maggie the dog during the car ride over). 

Once at Chickasaw State Park, we got registered and had only about 30 minutes to warm up before my start. This was not easily done with temps hovering around 30 degrees, with the wind chill in the low to mid 20s. At least it was dry there; Chatt was expected to get more snow (although Atlanta sucked it all up, leaving Chatt with none of the white stuff). I got in 1 ride of the loop and practiced a few barrier dismounts/remounts. That is still an artform to be mastered, but my dismounts aren’t so bad for only learning last weekend. (The remount however… can’t quite get the hang of it. It can be a rather..uh… painful experience if not done properly!) 
So, the race…  the Cat4 women lined up with the Cat4 men and juniors, although we started 30 seconds behind to let the guys spread out a bit. There were 8 of us at the start line – about half were on cross bikes; the rest on mtn bikes, like me :)  At “go” we lept forward. There was a short time until 2 tight switchbacks and I didn’t want to get stuck in them. 1 girl sprinted forward; I was right there with #2. I was caught on the outside of turn #1 which I had hoped would set me ok to catch the inside of the second, but she got just enough ahead of me to cut me off again. I stayed within a few bike lengths of her for about half a lap before she started to pull away a bit. I held on, hoping that one of them would fade (before I did). I kept looking back to see where 4th place was… thankfully if I could see them, it was across the field and several turns back. I just hoped I could hold on! 
The course in general wasn’t very technical: long flat/rolling sections to get some speed on. (which ended up slowing me on a mtn bike which likely weighed about 5-7lbs more than the cross bikes). While there were no run ups, there was  nice steep hill about 2/3 thru that put some hurt on. There were 3 double barriers, 1 set being on a hill that I never got style points on. There wasn’t much mud; just bitter cold to contend with. And my lungs, which don’t like to operate in cold weather at this high effort. Yeah, I’m definitely built more for endurance.
Anyways, towards the end of lap 3 – I was still easily holding 3rd place – I looked at my watch and figured we were done. Our race was to be 30 minutes long. However when I got there the official held up the sign with 1 lap to go. Yikes!! So I kept at it, not wanting to falter and give up my place. Finally, 4 laps and about 44 minutes later I was done! The results initially were a bit f’d up… it had me in 5th! Apparently lapping a few of the girls and squeezing in 4 laps confused them and they had me down as 3 laps. Luckily all the women racers were huddled in the little room keeping warm and we easily got it figured out. 3rd place it was! I came in right behind the 2 women that are leading the state series, so I was pretty psyched with my results…. esp being on a mtn bike and still not being in race condition (only my 3rd weekend back out at it). 
Big thanks to the Columbia Cycling Club for putting on a great event with great awards – etched glasses (I’m getting a nice collection of barware from races – I love it!) I didn’t make it back to Sunday’s event, but I heard it was a fab, tough course! (I went on a trail run at Raccoon instead.)

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