I was recently told that my last race report was not long enough, so put on your reading caps, because I am going to make up for it in this one!
DCCX is always one of my favorite races, and for the first time, we would get to enjoy it for two days instead of the usual one day. However, race day arrived and I was not so much in the mood for racing, cheering, heckling, or the Peep hand-ups I promised on facebook. I was ready to just head home when John couldn’t race due to an IT band issue; but I figured that we were already there, so I might as well just go along with it. As I previewed the course and warmed-up, I started to come around to the idea of racing, but I could tell my legs were not all there. Or maybe it was really just my head that wasn’t all there and I was blaming my legs.
With a field of 25 and a back row start position, I knew I had to concentrate on my start. I’m not sure if I got lucky or if I have finally figured things out, but I had a great start. I saw a huge hole open in front of me and I blasted into it passing a good chunk of people off the line. Since there were almost twice as many as a usual Super 8 race, it was a little difficult to tell where I was in the field, but I think I was somewhere around the back half of mid-pack. Towards the end of the first lap my shifting start to get weird. My bike was ghost shifting and refusing to go into my easier gears. I got mad because I thought I fixed this problem last week! Why is it all of a sudden back?
I started losing places as I tired to find gears that worked. I thought about how annoying it was going to be to race like this and wondered if “annoying” was a good enough reason to DNF. Then–crunch–my wheel stopped moving. I hopped off and looked at it in that way that you don’t really know what you are looking at when you are in the middle of a race and your heart is about to come out your ears. The entire Elite field passed me, then the 3/4 field started to pass. Derailleur–looked fine; wheel–NOT ATTACHED! WTF?! My wheel fell off! Put wheel back on, continue racing.
I pulled back out somewhere in the first half of the Cat 3/4 race. The Elite field was long gone. A Cat 3/4 woman starts yelling at me to get out of her way. I wanted to yell back at her to go the f*ck around me, this is ‘cross. I passed her and wanted to tell her not to yell at people. I was so mad. Mad at my wheel, mad at the woman for yelling at me, and mad that I was in the back. I started working my way back up in the field, passing the Cat 3/4 racers and I soon spotted the end of the Elite race. I went into the technical swoopy tree part behind a few people. I didn’t totally trust them to be able to ride it, and I spent so much time worrying about them that my front wheel washed out and I went down. But I quickly ran up the hill and was soon back on track with passing people.
I wanted to yell to my spectating friends “my wheel fell off,” so they wouldn’t think I was just totally sucking and slow. So I went harder so I could make up more spots. My legs disagreed, but I finally ended up about where I should have been in my field. I spent much of the race with the super fast 16-year old who has been crushing the Cat 3/4 women’s field, and some of the Elite field too. She really helped keep me going.
During the last lap I started catching sight of two more women just ahead. I seemed to be getting closer to them. I really wanted to catch them, but I wasn’t sure I had enough time. In what was maybe the last 1/4 of a lap, I went all in to get them. I was still SO MAD at everything. I WILL DESTROY YOU! I said to them in my head. I went in to the last few turns more aggressively than I had the entire race and thought to myself, why don’t I always do it like that? I closed a surprising amount of time in that last lap. I came SO CLOSE to catching them. I just needed a little more time. In my memory, I was a mere two seconds behind my friend Melanie across the finish, but in reality it was more like 15 seconds. I was so sure of myself, I thought the result must be wrong, until I realized that electronic scoring doesn’t really lie.
I finished 20 out of 25. Which was exactly where crossresults.com predicted me, but my last 3 lap times were faster than the 5 women ahead of me. If my wheel had just stayed on my bike! However, I’m not sure I would have been quite so out to DESTROY those women in front of me had my wheel stayed snugly in its dropouts. I didn’t think about if I could catch them, there was not option, I WOULD catch them. I would catch everyone and DESTROY them. It was like I was possessed and my only thought was to keep moving up. In other races I find plenty of time to think about things like my poor remounts, how much better so and so is than me, and this and that. When I see someone ahead, I “know” I can’t catch them. Well I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to catch those last two women, but I went for it anyway. I didn’t get them, but I got a lot closer than I would have expected, proving just how much of racing can be mental.
After the race, I was torn between coming back on Sunday for redemption and skipping the race completely. A beautiful fall day of mountain biking won out in the end.