Monday, April 8, 2013

Hop Brook Dam - Root 66 Series Season Opener

When a race is really challenging, it's always fun when something happens to make your experience more complicated.  Well, I like fun, so it makes sense that I'd lose a contact lens out there - YET AGAIN!  I'd noticed early on that my left lens felt a little "off" (pun absolutely intended), so I was consciously trying to keep it comfortable for the long haul out there, but somewhere in the middle of the 3rd lap, on one of the fast gravely downhills, my eye teared up and the wind blew.  Before I had a chance to blink, I could see out of the corner of my eye that there was a folded up piece of silicone lens on the inside of my glasses.  Lucky for me, I plan in advance for situations like this, and I brought my glasses along (so that I can see on my way home at least).  This has happened far too often, and it makes the rest of the race a whole lot more difficult than it normally should be.  I managed to stay upright, and my lack of depth perception had me picking the straightest lines without knowing what sort of jagged rock might be in the middle... I finished and did not die.

Coming into this race, I was hoping to beat my time from last year.  Unfortunately, I finished 2-3 minutes slower.  I'd like to blame that on the wind resistance, but I'm sure there were times when the wind was helping me along instead of pushing me backwards.  Like anyone, I have a long list of excuses for not living up to my own expectations... however, I'm going to look at the cold hard facts: 
  1. I have ridden the road only once this year (on a mountain bike). 
  2. It is only the beginning of April.
Based on just this, I know that I need to get my lazy ass out on the road and do some work there.  I can ride tech all day long, but that doesn't mean anything if I can't maintain speed on a fast xc course.  Quite frankly, these xc courses are pretty tame compared to what I constitute as "epic mtb riding."  Don't get me wrong, I don't huck 4ft drops or anything nasty like that, but I like a good rocky trail with some steep climbs and hairy descents.  That stuff is fun!  However, I also like to go fast, and when the race courses offer opportunity for that with a bit of challenging singletrack here and there, I am generally pleased.  If I want to go fast, I need to practice pedaling harder, and that means I need to go somewhere that I can pedal hard without being forced to slow down.  That's what the road is for (yeah, I know... yucky road.)  Also, it's early, so I have time to start riding the road...  ugh.  

So, here's the breakdown of the race:
I warmed up with almost a full lap, lined up with the rest of the ladies (5 in the open/elite group), and tried to keep up with them through the first lap.  I kept Sue and Madeleine in sight for most of the first lap.  Sue flatted on the second lap which was disappointing to me (and obviously to her as well), and I found out later she tore her sidewall.  For the rest of the race, I did my best to stay consistent until my vision was impaired.  From there on out, consistency was met with some cautiousness.  I was grateful that we only did 4 laps because I don't think I was ready for climbing at race pace for the two hours I was out there - never mind another 30 minutes of it.  When I saw Kate pass me as she moved up from the Cat 1 group, I knew I was going way slower than I wanted to be, and so at that point, my brain became fixed on my getting through the next lap without getting caught by anyone else in Cat 1.  Somehow, I managed to do that, but Stacy B. wasn't far behind.  In fact, her time was a couple minutes faster than mine.  

The best part of the day was the drive there and home.  Skyler accompanied me to the race this weekend, and she's at the age where she can check in with friends throughout the day but ride around and have fun too.  She wants to race the first-timer's category (for her second time) at Winding Trails, so I might have to do that along with her and see where she's at...  I don't know if she'd be comfortable on her own.  Anyhow, on the way to the race, we kept doing math based on what the GPS was telling us for "miles to go."  We'd convert the miles to feet, and then based on our speed, we'd calculate how many feet we were traveling per minute and second.  On the way home, Skyler got cupcake crumbs all over herself and spent most of the ride looking for them... and eating them.  I'm looking forward to bringing her to lots more races.  She was a fun travel buddy.  

So, that's it for race day, but I can't help but mention something about the USAC/UCI non-sanctioned vs sanctioned race debacle.  It is in rather poor taste that these rules were clarified 1/4 of the way into 2013 rather than prior to the new year.  Being an amateur racer, I would NOT have renewed my UCI license this season if I thought it meant I couldn't do EFTA races, the NH100 or Singlespeed-A-Palooza. Now, having already registered for non-sanctioned events, I'm stuck with either braking the rules, downgrading my license (and missing out on the Pro XCT events that I'd been looking forward to), or forgoing a bunch of awesome events that I've already committed to.  At this point, I refuse to give up the events I already registered for.  Here's hoping these issues can somehow be resolved... it's looking like USAC needs to step up to the plate to contend with the UCI over this rule as it applies in the U.S.  The current ruling is too restricting on all accounts for racers in the U.S., and the USAC needs to lay-off their monopoly scheme.  I doubt they will have this straightened out before the Pro XCT events this summer (if at all) which is very unfortunate, so it's looking like a downgrade for me.  Before I do anything hasty, I plan to email the New England USAC rep to let her know my concerns.  I'm sure I won't be the first or the last.  

See you all at Winding Trails, and I will be breaking the rules for Singlespeed-A-Palooza...  
"Eat my shorts." -Bart Simpson


  1. One - you cannot compare your ride this year to last year. If you remember, we had NO SNOW all winter last year, and most of us came into April with mid-season fitness and skills. This winter was not the same, and the fitness levels are a little behind.

    Two - regarding the rule clarification (which, BTW, stinks), I know that there are A LOT of people (read racers) who are planning to turn a blind eye, knowing that USAC cannot target every racer in the US. I don't think that you should have to downgrade just to be able to race where you want to race. NEBRA is also following up with USAC as this rule will affect people racing CX as well. I'll keep you posted on that one.

    Three - great job out there! That was a TOUGH day in the saddle! My legs and back are still sore.

    1. Thanks Cathy! I'm eagerly awaiting the decisions to come regarding "the rule."

  2. Nice job out there keep it up!!

    1. Liz,
      Sorry I didn't get a chance to catch up with you at the race. I feel like a jerk for not getting a chance to say "hi". We left pretty quickly after the awards for the long drive home in the wind. About the rule, I am planning on breaking it when it comes to the local non-sanctioned races with the thought that they can't police every racer at every event in every town across the whole country. Maybe I'll change my name a bit or something. I'm not too worried about the local events. I think they will be paying attention to the high profile pros at the bigger races, such as the Whiskey 50, Teva Mtn Games, Leadville 100, Transylvania Stage Race, Brek Epic, etc, and the NUE series. See you at the next one. By the way, its early season, you will get faster and the courses will get rockier.

    2. Thanks, Bryna! I was out of there pretty quickly myself. I'd promised my daughter we would stop somewhere yummy to eat on the way home. I'll see you soon, hopefully! -Liz


Hey, thanks for commenting. Please keep it respectable and mostly PG. Thanks, Liz.