So I meant to write a race report for QuadCross and didn’t get around to it. This means you get two posts for the price of one (which is still free) because this is also the race report for the Midnight Ride of Cyclocross.
Date: September 7, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: 45 Old Mill Road, Maynard, MA 01754
Weather: Kind of dewy? Very warm, and dusty during the men’s races too.
Geez the beginning of September feels like such a long time ago. Time flies when you’re busy getting CXy. Either way, this was my first race of the season and Andrea’s first race ever.
This race was a lot of fun. Apparently it was run backwards from the way it was set up last year (which was Dana’s first race). There was a particularly turny bit right after the hole shot where if you didn’t maneuver yourself well, you’d end up in the pond.
The only time I almost went into the pond was when someone yelled at me “Don’t go into the –!” and I ended up overcorrecting and riding right into the course tape. There were also a bunch of fun turny bits in the woods including an area that almost psyched me out due to the hay bales wrapped around trees (for safety!). I’m glad they did though.
No matter how I place in a race (usually bottom 50%), I always pride myself on learning something new at each race. In the case of the wooded section at QuadCross, I learned the hard lesson of the importance of commitment, not the sort I’m usually afraid of, but making the decision of whether I’m going to ride or run up a particularly steep section. If I had to slow down at all prior to the incline, it’s probably the best bet to dismount, shoulder and run up. Unfortunately, I would try to ride, end up losing momentum, nearly fall over, rack myself in the junk while dismounting at an awkward angle and lose precious time as a whole bunch of people more sensible than me pass.
There was also a sandy patch where people kept washing out in the corners. The more sensible racers like Dana just got off and ran it (faster!). I tried to ride it the first couple of laps and nearly washed out every time and had to kick-push myself back upright.
Pre-rode the course with a friend, who gave me some good encouragement in the woods. Unlike last year where I was terrified of the woods section, this year I thought it was way more fun and actually more predictable than some of the rutted out and off-camber stuff out on the grass. Lots of fun in there. I had a decent start, we bottlenecked in the first corner, jumped off and ran, remount was quick. I chose to run the sand every time with my bike on my shoulder, and was able to pass people on foot who were riding it and getting stuck. The gravely bits freaked me out but each time I came through with good speed and didn’t have any trouble. Decided to shoulder the bike after the barriers for a quicker run up the hill, and the remounts in front of the crowd in the lodge were luckily smooth and earned me some cheers. On the last lap, I unfortunately got passed by a group of 3 just before going into the woods, which cost me some places.
Afterwards I brought a Chicago tradition to New England Cyclocross. Malört.
MIDNIGHT RIDE OF CYCLOCROSS
Date: September 24, 2014
Time: 7:01 p.m.
Weather: It was dark out and I only felt cold once I stood still and my sweat started evaporating. Our Metromint friend Stephanie (who we had met/podiumed with at the New England Time Trial Championships) actually had to get out her fleece things to keep warm, but then again she just got here from California so I imagine it’s kind of like having to put a goldfish still in the plastic bag in the water to get the temperatures to match before letting the fish swim out.
On the ride to the race, our Pedal Power friend Ella got us pretty pumped with various playlists of guilty pleasure music (a lot of pop/pop punk from high school and 80s/90s pop) and workout jams. I warmed up by spinning around the grassy parking lots and ate a whole package of dried mangos from H-mart. Then I pre-rode the course, which felt weird since it was the exact reverse of the Minuteman Cyclocross Race last year. I hung out with the ladies while we spun around by the course before we got called to staging. To kick off Rosh Hashanah, Dana was wearing her awesome “Oy Vey” socks.
This race marked the more official return of The Green Fairy. I had actually brought my wings to the QuadCross race, but for whatever reason chose not to wear them.
Some of my favorite things people yelled at me:
- The wings make you faster!
- You’re my favorite woman racer! [to which I countered: “I bet you say that to all the girls!” right before nearly going off into the course tape. When will I learn that counter-heckling isn’t a thing?]
I had a great time racing against a strong group and was pretty proud of myself for actually being able to keep up with the group for a good part of the race and even pass a couple of people (although I got passed when I lost time with less-than-graceful cornering/remounts and when I wiped out under a tree) There was nearly a pileup at the barriers as we were getting lapped by Helen Wyman herself. Alex Carleton wrote a very thoughtful post about her first race experience where Helen rode with her the last lap and even showed her lines to take corners. If there’s anything I love about this sport, it’s how supportive everyone is. Helen already hosted two workshops, but was still able to take the time out to teach a new person in the middle of a race. How cool is that? Of course we all fell in love with this crazy dirty sport at first race.
I LOVE THIS COURSE. I think it’s a great course for me, because #1, it’s primarily flat, and #2, it has a speed limit. There’s not a ton of pedaling and braking, and there are a ton of grassy turns. So the faster you can take those turns, the more places you can pick up right off the bat. However, it’s not your typical grass crit, as it has a couple of really neat features. First, the sandy section, which is totally packed and rideable, but slippery as hell and has a bunch of U-turns in it. Second, it has the woodchips of doom! It’s at a fairground and you get to ride through barns with woodchips on the floor. For livestock, I suppose. There were a couple of uphill barriers as well, and some fast downhill serpentine turns. I got a very good start, but was not as aggressive about passing people once we got into the turns. I need to work on that. Valerie and I tag-teamed for a while, I could hear her making little grunty and squeaky noises behind me. At one point, we went over the barriers together but I remounted faster and got a bit of a gap. When she ate it going around a tree, I got further ahead and didn’t really see her after that.
Best part of the race — when I was passed by Helen Wyman, 2 great things happened. Lesli Cohen started screaming at me to chase her and pass her (HA!). I did chase her, yelling, “HEY, CAN I GET YOUR AUTOGRAPH?!” I followed her into the woodchips, attempting to see how she tackled them. However, I was also trying not to wipe out. I got passed by the second place rider in the dark on the back of the course. (By the way, riding in the dark is way less scary than I thought. When you can’t see the ground, you have to trust it and trust your bike, and things seemed to just work out!) Coming out of the downhill onto the concrete for the final spint, I shifted into the big ring, and what do you know? It’s a whole lot faster! Result was 14th out of 30! Best finish to date, and met my goal of top 50%.