Any longtime readers were probably surprised by the mention of my family at a race because that pretty much never happens, but Jeff and J wanted to hit Fright Nights at Six Flags once more before Halloween and Nathan came along for the ride. Since Faust Park is conveniently located between our house and Six Flags, I convinced them I could race on the way. ("Convinced" is probably an overstatement, but regardless, I got my way.)
Bubba Cross: Faust Park II
|Jeff and J played catch while I warrmed up|
|Getting lined up and waiting for the start|
Right behind me was the other Kate. Well, she's been riding longer, so I guess I'm the other Kate. Whatever the case, it made it a little interesting as people cheered because I wasn't sure which of us they were cheering for. I just assumed it was for me, too. :) This lasted for about two laps until she passed me and was never close again.
The course wasn't too tricky...one steep off-camber downhill that made me nervous each time I rode down it, and of course the oh-so-fun barriers.
|You should see some of the women carry their bikes over these barriers...they look more like astronauts in space the way they bound over. And then there's me...lift...stagger, lift, climb back on.|
|Coming past the start/finish on a lovely downhill.|
Pluses: actually warming up, getting a better start, I felt like my handling and confidence improved on the course over the five laps, getting to ride one more lap than normal, coming in second last.
Minuses: no pre-ride of the course, I need to get more comfortable with pushing when it's hard/I'm tired instead of pedaling like I'm out for the bike equivalent of a Sunday stroll, crossing barriers, mount/dismount, dropped my chain once, and coming in second last.
...but...it was a beautiful day to race, I got to see some friends, my family got to see me race, and we had a nice afternoon at Six Flags...
...where I spent an hour and 15 minutes in line to get my season pass processed (Jeff and J took care of theirs the previous weekend when I was on the Katy Trail.
I had really wanted to race at Faust Park because I knew there's be no cross the following weekend. J's birthday was Nov. 4, and he was all about having some family time. I couldn't convince him that going to watch me race would be good family time, and he didn't take Jeff's suggestion that they go to an autograph show in St. Louis (they're both huge sports autograph collectors) to free up my morning.
It didn't even hurt too much to be skipping the race until I got up and it was beautiful out. Then I started feeling internally grumpy thinking about how they were just going to watch football anyway, but I kept it to myself until Nathan came home and decided to take J to the movies. Wait...why am I sitting around here when he's not even going to be here?? While Jeff drove the boys to the theater, I frosted cakes, vaccummed, swept, and cleaned off counters.
He got home and I tried hinting: "I guess I could have raced after all!" Nothing. I did a little more cleaning before deciding I could either sit around feeling pissy because Jeff didn't suggest I go race, or I could see if he cared if I went. He didn't, so I threw all my bike stuff into my car, threw on my jersey and some obnoxious socks, and left with 45 minutes to get gas and drive the 40ish minutes to the race.
Bubba Cross: Sylvan Springs II
Thankfully they were running a little behind and I could register and use the bathroom before the start, but I was still eating a pre-ride snack as we lined up. I'm the queen of the last minute in my regular life, but I really hate running late to a race.
I ended up pretty close to the back and started poorly, so by the time we were halfway down the gravel straightaway I was in last or second last. The course looped around behind the start/finish, so I had a great view of all the other girls strung out in front of me. We crossed the gravel and hit a swoopy downhill section that gave me trouble each time I hit it, my back wheel fishtailing every lap. Susan told me after the race that there was too much air in the tire; that largely preventable problem left me even more cautious/less aggressive than normal.
There were a couple long-ish uphills, and I felt terrible. Wondering Why again did I want to do this???, I remembered what Doug told me before my first race about the first lap being the worst. Thankfully, that held true this time.
|Struggling (Photo credit: Mike Dawson)|
There was some nice encouragement within the race as well; almost everyone who passed me had something nice to say, and I cheered on (well, as much as you can when you can't breathe) the people I knew...and the girl who passed me up to give me back my regular last place spot. :)
|Photo credit: Don McKinney|
This time I only got to ride four laps, but that was plenty. It was a long course, over two miles, and maybe that's why it seemed to go on forever. :) The nice thing for me about riding laps in a race is feeling more comfortable with each subsequent trip around the course, but I never felt like I had a handle on the best lines.
Minuses: no warmup or course pre-ride, never felt comfortable/confident enough to be more aggressive on faster spots, struggled on little double switchback and uphills, coming in last.
Pluses: This is hard because I don't feel like I did anything particularly well...ummm...beautiful day, didn't crash despite sliding all over, chose beer handup over licorice, good exercise and experience. Oh...and if nothing else, the race left me with quite possibly my favorite picture EVER of me on a bike.
|Photo credit: Dan Singer|
One really cool thing about the St. Louis cx scene is the photographers. There are several really good photographers who come out to most of the races and take pictures. Because my family is rarely there at my races, it's really nice to still see some pictures. Well, sometimes it's humbling, too, to see just how bad I look while I'm riding. :)
Next weekend is all about the Skippo 30K, where I'm sure the pictures of me will be tragically bad, but in two weeks I'll be back on the bike, most likely in last place and wondering why I'm there again...at least, until it's over and I remember how fun it was.