I’m a little behind this week on updates, but check out this edition of the Cyclocross diaries. The beloved Crusade announcer “Splinter,” (yes, like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles master) throws some great words around about our young fella on the team. The whole edition is great and worth a watch.
Editors Note: This is the second of our Pacific Pedaling lady racers reports from the past weekend. Thanks to Ellen Miller for contributing this wrap up report. Be sure to also check out Martha’s report just before this one too! Thanks ladies! Some of my favorite shots here, and the full couple hundred on our Flickr page here.
To start off my inaugural blog/race report I would like to give huge ‘props’ to our team owner/director sportif, Paul Lopez. He has been the most amazing support this entire year. The beauty of this team is that it is a gift from Paul, his business, and his family for some local Salem racers to have fun. There is no need for glory or payback, just have fun. Also, big kudos to Pacific Pedaling rider, Tyler Jackson for his 2nd place finish Sunday in the Clydes…way to go Tyler!
This last weekend with the rain, mud, and wind Paul was there with his trailer, heaters, delicious hot pork rib sandwiches, and even a handmade Roland keyboard to complete my SSCXWC Devo costume! Paul, thank you for everything!
Transitions are always a challenge in my life. On Sunday at PIR I assumed that many racers would be participating in the A race and the SSCXWC, so I planned on making it work. “Staging for SSCXWC at 345” they announced, but our race didn’t even start until 315. This was going to be interesting.
As we waited for our whistle, we chatted among ourselves to see who was in for both races. Kari from Velo Bella rolled up next to me and mentioned that she planned on doing the SS race but was sad that her pink sparkle boots didn’t pass the run-up test. I later found out she won the women’s SSCXWC. Congrats Kari, hopefully you will find an occasion to wear your new yellow sparkle bikini with your pink sparkle boots.
I was having a ball racing the Cross Crusade course. The course was a perfect combination of fast stretches, deep mud, greasy corners and silly, slippery off camber sections that even made the fastest A’s humble. When I began my fourth lap I glanced at my watch, 350pm, yikes! I b-lined it back to the van and with Pat and Paul’s help got taped into my Devo kit and I was off to the SSCXWC staging area.
I made it just in time to throw my bike in the pile and find the ladies lined up in a pretty little row. For some reason the women were staged off to the side away from the circle of men. It kind of made me feel second class. The start was a Le Mans start where everyone had to run to their bikes and then jump on the course. We were given the wave by Potestio’s magic wand and the race was on.
Surprisingly, it wasn’t that chaotic to get onto the course. We were definitely in a traffic jam, but it was a fun kind of jam full of heckling and laughing. After the first barriers, run-up and off camber section we were already spreading out. Much to my delight, I realized I was riding next to Trebon. Much to my dismay, as soon as I noticed him I hit the fence and rode it like a cheese grater. I am a total star struck kind of girl. After I recovered, I was determined to stalk him for the first lap. He was obviously taking a joy ride approach to this race. I followed him, listened to others heckle him and even saw him put his foot down on an easy corner. Then I got distracted by a bacon hand-up, mmmm bacon. It was fresh off the skillet and delicious. Thank you bacon hand-up boy! I got back on track to chasing Trebon and then quickly lost him to the stripper bus. I was very torn about this short cut. Although I do not wish to condone behavior that leads to misogyny, I also have a serious case of FOMS (fear of missing something). I forgot my dollars. I had no choice.
The course was completely annihilated by the rain and the thousand racers earlier. It was a blast just playing around with different lines and heckling each other. There was never a good line for the run-up after the off-camber section and the cheese grater fence. I felt like every time I was on that run-up I was looking up some guys skirt in front of me or some mud stain up someone’s briefs. Fortunately, the Lanimal was at the top of this section with some refreshments.
On every lap the crowd was awesome, setting up jumps, making noise in any way possible, yelling encouraging words and yelling discouraging words. The energy in the Thunderdome was pretty cool. You couldn’t wipe the smile off your face for the whole lap after going through there. If you could bottle that, I would never need a Hammer product again.
Just as soon as I noticed that it was getting dark, the race was over. Even though my Devo pants had become Devo chaps at that point, I wanted to keep going. The next lap I was going to try to ride the high ridge versus the low puddle, I was going to try to get air on the jumps, I was going to find a dollar in the mud and see what was in that bus! I guess the moral of my story racing cross this year is you never know when your last lap is going to be. Ride every lap like it is your last.
Thanks to everyone who made Sunday at PIR such a fabulous day. A special thanks to Dani Dance and crew for hosting SSCXWC.
Editors Note: This week, the ladies of Pacific Pedaling offered to report on last weekends crazy full schedule of racing. This report is brought to you by Martha Paulus and includes some of my favorite shots from the day. Another hundred and some photos are on the Flickr page – click here for those. Thanks Martha!
Saturday the Oregon State Fairgrounds hosted the last race in the Willamette Valley Cross Series and the event was also for the OBRA Cross Championship . The organizers worked hard and put on a great race. I stopped by Friday to help out and to get a sneak peek at the course. It was a long one, 2.2 miles. It meandered through the fairgrounds horse arena, motocross track, volleyball court, warm-up barn, and out into an open grassy area.
The morning of the race was pleasant and little sunny. I went out to cheer on Paul during his race and was pleased to see the chopped motorcycle track had already been tracked out making for a much easier section. I noticed a medic attending to several people who appeared to have road rash due to slippery spots on pavement no doubt. Note to self, don’t take the corners too fast.
At the 2 pm line up for the woman’s race the weather had taken a turn for the worse. The start was fast as it went down a paved section the length of the motorcycle arena and then a hard left which was slick. As I headed for the first pass through the warm-up barn and out into the open part of the course the rain was coming down pretty hard. The open grassy section was tough, back to back barriers through switch back turns and mud of course. As I remounted and headed back in, the headwind made my bike feel like it weighed a 100 lbs. Ouch! More winding around through grass, water, mud to the sandpit for a mandatory dismount. This wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be, however I’m glad the organizers shortened the distance, five more strides would have killed me.
Before entering the warm-up barn again, I struggled through the longest stretch of mud the course had to offer. I could see my team tent at the far end of the barn and got a much needed boost in morale. That headwind nearly crushed me. The horse arena was great, hearing the live band play as I made my way though the loamy dirt helped spirits too. Did I mention that I’m second to last in Women’s Masters 35+ at this point and only 1 lap in? Whatever, I’m having fun out there in spite of the pain. Now on to the motocross track and I feel better and gain some ground on another girl. Yeah! Uh oh, she’s pulling away from me on the flat parts again!
I had a great time doing the Willamette Valley Cross series! Thank you to all the sponsors who made it happen.
We had a HUGE weekend of racing with OBRA Cyclocross Championships here in Salem on Saturday, Cross Crusade #7 at Portland International Raceway in Portland on Sunday, and wrapping up with the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships to wrap up the day. Whew! We have some great race reports and TONS of photos starting tomorrow, but for today, check out some cool shots from PDXCross. James gets another 15 minutes of fame, and this time Pat gets in on the action too, pictured above.
I was shooting over at the run up and heard the crowd explode and then saw James come out the other end of the off camber mud pit. I figured he either crashed hard, or bombed the corner…sure enough, he kept the bike upright and pleased the crowd.
Be sure to hop over to PDX Cross to see complete photo wrap ups from the weekend races.
Forget the podium. Forget coverage in a real life publication. Forget bringing home cash or medals. I’m not sure I’ll be able to be any more proud of our team than when we rolled around the course at Astoria as DEVO, complete with booming DEVO soundtrack strapped to the back of the bike. Thankfully, there are enough ‘old folks’ still racing to know DEVO, even though I did hear someone say, “I brought it up on my phone, apparently they were a band from the 80’s.” Yes! (Thanks to Grimace 2/9 for his Flickr photo above.)
Sunday was truly out of control. A lot of fun, and a day that would end up stirring up controversy about how much fun is too much fun, especially at the expense of those who were the recipients of boos, catcalls and mass amounts of all kinds of bottled liquids flying across the gauntlet of barriers. This being my first Halloween cross race, I had no idea what to expect, and the day lived up to the hype. Hundred, and hundreds of racers dressed up in every outfit imagineable, and some you wouldn’t want to imagine. Guys making SPD compatible high heels, and some who dared to wear complete furry outfits. Team DEVO lost the costume contest to a chicken, but I’m pretty sure the photo above will warm the hearts of many, as it has mine.
Couple hundred photos from Sunday on our Flickr page – click here. And just a few of my favorite shots from the day below. And yes, there are two of the robot below…Rasca had me laughing all day long.
It’s always a little moment of happiness for me when the Cyclocross Diaries come out. Heidi and Eric not only gut it out on the course each week, but then they put on their media minds and get busy cranking out the insider report for racers. Couple of glimpses of Pacific Pedaling riders in this edition too…I at least caught James while he was still alive. Enjoy!
Although a series of unfortunate events the morning of the race kept me from making it to my race on time, it was a great day for racing for the rest of the Pacific Pedaling team, and the hundreds of other racers that turned out. The course was dry and dusty, adding to the fun of the epic hill climbing. Here are some of my favorite shots from the day (click for full size.)
You can find all of the nearly 300 shots from the day on our Flickr page.
The 2009 Willamette Valley Cyclocross Series kicked off with a beautiful fall day race at Heiser farms this past Saturday, and Pacific Pedaling was there to get it going! Jeff, Chad and the rest of the gang put on a fantastic race, and the Heiser Farms and Pumpkin Patch made it a perfect family friendly venue for everyone who came out.
I had never raced an actual cross race before Heiser. The short track series this summer was my first foray into any kind of racing, so I knew I had at least a little more of a challenge ahead of me as those races were only 20 minutes (30 for the last one) and these would be 45 minutes right out of the gate. Throw in more racers, potential mud, and additional technical fun, and I could be a complete mess. The short track races had about taken it out of me…I wasn’t sure how I’d go twice as long. I was definitely nervous headed into it.
I arrived at the race about 2 hours before my race around 8 am. Course organizers were still wrapping up a few details, and I took the early arrival time to park, set up the team tent, get out all of our stuff, get my bike(s) out, check in at registration, walk the course, use the restroom, eat a little something, change, pin my number on my jersery,…and next thing you know, it’s about 20 minutes until my race. Pat and Ellen had arrived by this time, and I asked Pat if he’d drag my extra bike to the pit, while I pre-rode the course for one lap. When I got back I had one more stop off at the porta potty, and it was time to line up.
While there were about 50 of us in different rows at the start line, only 18 of us were in the Beginner Men category. Masters C and Category C men both went out in front of us, with about a minute or two gap between each group. Before I knew it, we were up, and off to the races! I quickly found out that I’m not a speedster off the line (well, really anywhere) and was in the back half of the group before the first corner.
We headed around the first corner, down past a cornfield to our right, and down a quick little descent into the wooded area of the farm. By this time we were all pretty much single file, and I was feeling pretty comfortable on the bike and on the course. We made a sharp right turn after another little hill and continued out along the wooded area. My heart was pumping hard, and all of a sudden I realized how hard I was breathing. I thought, “this can’t be good…I may end up doing myself in if I don’t focus on getting some regular breathing going.”
From a little rain and drizzle, there was one slightly muddy spot before a quick little grass hill that was for the most part pretty easy to cross. On one of my last laps, I had to put a leg down after sliding out in the mud, but was able to keep the bike up and continue on with a quick run up on that hill. The only other time I had any issue with my bike was on the backside of the course where there was a drop down into a gully with a quick climb up a steep little hill. I missed my opportunity to pass the guy I was following, and when he stopped at the top of that hill, I didn’t have anywhere to go, and couldn’t unclip fast enough, so I went to my right knee. Nothing more than a bruised ego for falling in front of a few spectators, but I think I just have to get used to that.
About halfway through the race, I think I visited what Pat would later refer to as “the dark place” during a race. “Why am I doing this? I’m an old guy. I could be home sleeping. I could be enjoying brunch somewhere. I could be doing anything that wouldn’t be making me hurt and feel like I’m going to hurl!” I knew that quitting wasn’t an option, but I knew I’d be ready to hear them say “1 lap to go,” when that time came. “Keep cranking…and keep breathing,” I kept saying to myself. “You’ve ridden 70 miles in a monsoon, for almost 5 hours solid by yourself…..you can do this too.” And of course, I knew I could. Pat and Ellen appeared from time to time, shaking a tambourine and yelling at me to “pedal, pedal, pedal!” It’s amazing what a little cheering can do for your spirits in the middle of a race.
Around the end of the 3rd lap I was riding along the bumpy edge of the cornfield, heading towards the barriers when Ron Strasser went riding the other direction on his bike along the rode. He hollered over at me, “Remember, recover where you can!” Remember? Heck, I hadn’t even thought of that! He must’ve seen the pain on my face and realized I needed to ease up here and there. On that stretch I stopped mashing and just spun for a bit, and as I turned into the corner to head to the barriers, I was felt much better and dismounted, ran over the barriers and got back on the bike, and to my surprise, was feeling a second wind coming on. (Oh yeah, Ron later won the Masters 60+ Men…yeah, you heard me 60 years and older….what am I complaining about?!)
Somewhere towards the end of the 4th lap, I definitely felt a second wind and tried to pick up the pace a little better. The bumpy parts of the track, particularly in the area through the Christmas trees (at least that’s what it smelled like to me) just before the gravel hill, beat the crap out of my body. But as the official called out “1 lap to go,” I actually was disappointed. Something inside said that if I had two more laps left, I could actually catch a few guys and maybe possibly pass them to finish further up the pack. As it turns out, I finished 16 of 18. Not dead last, but not anything to write home about. Hey, for my first race, I would have been happy to finish last as long as I could complete the race! And I won’t lie, I was completely baked after the race…and worn out the rest of the day.
Pat, Ellen and Martha also raced, flying through the course with ease, looking great in their Pacific Pedaling kits, and handing out advice and information about the next days race at Alpenrose, where we’d all race again in just 24 hrs. Poor Martha was coughing up a lung, but still got out to fight the battle. As I’ve thought many times this year, sitting there with our team, and my family and the pumpkin canon firing off in the back, we couldn’t have a better group of riders for our inaugural season as a team! And I can only get better, right?
No time to edit or crop since we have another full day of racing at Alpenrose today, so I just kicked out a bunch of photos from yesterday. I’ll post some favorites and race reports after the weekend, but for now you can see the full set on PacificPedaling’s flickr page.