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.
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?
I still have a race report to come, but wanted to get the photos out (posted yesterday in the previous post) before heading up to Alpenrose, and also wanted to export this quick video for anyone who hasn’t been able to make it out to Heiser Farms to race.
On top of being a fun, cool course to race on, the venue is especially family friendly during this season with a great Pumpkin Patch, with plenty of activities for the little ones. Of course, not only do the kids like the pumpkin canon, but the adults do as well. This year, a new canon was added to the arsenal, and both of these babies shoot over 1500 feet at 80-90 psi. Check out the video to see one in action. The second half of the video shows a long bomb shot, and the landing is hard to see…just had my DSLR with me, but watch for the tuft of pumpkin blast at near the back of the mowed corn field, off to the right of the target.
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.
Once again, local Bike-ologist, Eric Lundren has sent out the good on what’s going on in Salem, and the surrounding areas in the upcoming days and weeks. The PacificPedaling.com gang will be kicking off some racing at the first Willamette Valley Cyclocross race in Dayton at Heiser Farms next Saturday, and will also be at many of the events listed below….Eric, take it away:
Is this the last hurrah for sun and heat? I hope you’re able to get
out and enjoy it! With the Bike Commute Challenge wrapping up and the
Peach of a Century, the good bike times of summer are almost at an
Breakfast on Bikes – Sept 25
Peach – Sept 27th
City Council and Riverfront/Boise – Sept 28th
BTA Bicycle Safety Education – starting in October
BCC Afterparty – Early October
Commercial Street Striping Plan – October
Battlecreek Cross – Oct 24th
Halloween BonB – Oct 30th
Union Bridge Closure – Nov 2009 – May 2010
Cyclocross Championship – Nov 7
BCC updates at Pacific Pedaling
SBC Sunday Rides
Breakfast on Bikes – Friday, Sept 25th
We’ll be at the North Office Mall Building on Winter street NE from
7am to 9am with coffee, pastries, and fruit for you!
Thanks also to our sponsors – please support them with your business!
Cascade Baking Company
Coffee House Cafe
LifeSource Natural Foods
Salem Bicycle Club
Willamette University Sustainability Council
Peach of a Century – Sunday, Sept 27 http://salembicycleclub.org/content.plx?page=majrides
The ride includes a full Century Route (100 miles), a Metric Century
Route (62 miles), and new this year–a 75-mile route. Each route
starts and ends at Chemeketa Community College. The full century route
is challenging with some steep hills. The Metric Century and 75-mile
routes offer flat to rolling terrain with some moderate hills. The
routes follow low-volume roads past the farm fields of the Willamette
Valley, through forested foothills and rural communities east of
Salem. Day of ride registration is $23.
BTA Bicycle Safety Education – October 5-9 and thereafter
Robert Fox and the BSE team start up again! The first school will be
the Jane Goodall Environmental Magnet program at Waldo. Look for news
and call for volunteers from Robert.
Bike Commute Challenge Afterparty – look for a date in the first
couple of weeks of October!
Commercial Street Striping Plan – deferred to October, date TBD
The proposal to put a bike lane on Commercial street downtown
continues to be discussed and negotiated. Look for more in October.
Breakfast on Bikes – Friday, October 30th
Last hurrah at the Union Street RR Bridge! (see next item…)
Union Street Railroad Bridge Closure – November 2009 – May 2010
As part of the lead abatement project, the Union Street RR Bridge will
be closing the first of November. So enjoy it in October before you
have to go back to the Center Street Bridge!
Don’t forget about the Salem Bicycle Club daily rides, especially the
Sunday afternoon High Wheeler rides at 1:30pm! They’re a great
introduction to club riding. For more information see the weekly
rides schedule – http://salembicycleclub.org/calendar.plx?id=1
Races will be held on August 10, 17, 24 and 29, with the event on the 29th being held during the State Fair. All races will be held on the BMX track and adjacent grassy field at the Oregon State Fairgrounds; Salem, OR. The course will include a combination of grassy flats, twisty singletrack and bumpy dirt track (BMX course).
For more information, starting times, directions and information about Buy Local Cycling, be sure to visit the BLC site. Hope to see you at the races!