What better way to kick off the cross season with one of the craziest weekends of cross racing....where else but just outside of Seattle.....StarCrossed and RadRacing!!!!
Friday night, I picked Regan up from work, we loaded the new cross bikes up and headed down to Redmond, WA. Nothing like driving at midnight in what I'd call torrential downpour (hydroplane crazy) to pump you up for cross season. You definitely can't have a dry cross season, that's just not right. Checked in to the Silver Cloud Inn (great find!!) and hit the pillow both totally wiped out by 1am...yuck.
Saturday morning was a great sleep in!! I did set the alarm though for 9:30 so that we wouldn't miss the continental breakfast. Love the conti breaky where you get to make your own waffles right there....Canada needs some of these joints! After stuffing our faces we headed down to Marymoor park to claim a big cement pavillion and set up the Trek Pro City tent to create "Canada Corner" . Pretty neat how many Canadians, particularly from Victoria, made the journey south for this weekend. StarCrossed racing didn't start till 2:15, Regan raced at 3:00 and I didn't get to start till 7:00 pm.....night races are sooooo cool.
Most of the categories were totally maxed out at the 80 racer limit....and there was over 600 riders!!!!! Unfortunately the Elite Women's category was relatively small at 27, but it's still the largest cross races that I've had the chance to race in. All day it was beautiful, sunny, hot and dry.....5:30 the dark clouds rolled in and the expected rain started coming down. By the time we started at 7, there was standing puddles and chewed up muddy corners to make things exciting. I blew the start, not expecting the gun to go off 10 secs after the "Within 30 seconds" call....bobbled the pedal a couple times, almost lost my handlebar...and by the time I got myself sorted out I found myself looking at all 26 women swarming by me...so much for my front row call up...haha.
Off the long cement straight starting block, there was a nasty right hand almost 180 degree corner onto wet grass (well, no grass left at this point). I had grabbed as many gears as I could and was hammering my guts out trying to catch back up to the leader group. By the time we reached the first run up, a short hill with 4 logs across for a forced dismount, I had managed to bridge back up to Wendy Simms, Katerina Nash and Sue Butler. We road hard together for a lap, putting some time inbetween us and the rest of the pack. Going into the second lap Katerina and Wendy made a move, and I reacted by finding an opening around Sue and catching back up to their wheels. At this point, I came around a slick corner, trying to power out of it and found myself going sideways, sideways, sideways...it felt like really slow motion.....and still hanging onto the handlebars I hit the ground and slid. Jumping up as fast as I could, I lost contact with Wendy and Katerine, and Sue passed and gapped me. It took me a couple seconds to get back into the groove....but then I was on the hunt.
For the next however many laps we did, Sue yo-yo-ed just off the front of me. It'd catch up to her through some of the technical corners and dismount/remount sections, and she would power away from me on the open sections. The barriers were right in front of the beer gardens and it was so neat having so many people yelling and cheering you on to catch her. In the last couple laps, Canadian Natasha Elliot was coming on strong making up time fast, until the last lap and I was able to put a little more time back into the gap to 5th. Super happy with finishing 4th at my first big cross race!!!!
Sunday was an early morning for RadRacing as the first races of the day were at 9:00am. It was made even more painful due to the fact that we didn't eat supper until 10:30pm (Subway....quick and open) and didn't get to bed until almost midnight again.....weekend of no sleep. Definitely not the best recovery strategy...but how could we not stay and watch the mens race???
Regan raced at 9:45....and had an awesome race!!!! With over 150 men on course during his race, it was extremely exciting to watch, and even more so seeing him passing guys left right and center. Unfortunately we still haven't seen results for this category :(
By the time we started at 3, the entire width of the course the entire length of the course was one big inch plus deep mud puddle......except for the 2 beach runs...hehe....gnarly. Definitely good technical training on slick corners!! I had an amazing start, leading out to the first corner, where Sue Butler slipped by me to lead through the first couple corners. Wendy and Katerine were right there and they made a move around us and quickly put a little gap on us. Entering the first beach section, Sue got off to run and I powered by on my bike......ohhhhh the poor drive train!! Quick remount, slick corner, down a slick ramp and into the second beach run. Here that sand was so deep, and I could see Wendy and Katerine both dismounting, so I didn't even try to ride, but shouldered the bike and ran. At the far end I had put a small gap on Sue, remounted and struggled to clip back in.......wet sand packed in the pedals and cleats is harder then mud to clip in with.
Got myself sorted out and started hammering.......until a left hand corner with a good little rut....haha...damn rut grabbed my front tire and I slammed hard in the mud :) Sue passed me again....grrrrrr. Regrouped myself again and started the chase again....this time with Natasha Elliot and Devon Haskell in tow. Devon passed me through the barriers, and I grabbed her wheel to catch as much of a muddy draft as I could. Second last corner of the first lap I found myself smack on my ass again, loosing contact with both Devon and Natasha.
At this point Kathy Sherwin was breathing down my neck and we battled for the next 3 laps. I managed to clean the rest of the race, I think the mass amounts of rain that started to come down actually made the course a little less slick....if that's possible, but my legs didn't quite have the punch that they had the night before. The last lap I passed Kathy in the final sand run, managed to clip in relatively smoothly, and set my sights on Devon in 5th place. I managed to put some serious time into her on the last half of the lap, but not enough to catch up...and finished 6th on this day.
After cleaning my bike I found that my rear derallieur was jammed with so much mud and grass that I couldn't even move the cage....no wonder I was having troubles shifting or even staying in a gear...hehe. My new Trek XO2 worked absolutely amazing, the newly designed front fork is so stiff and responsive...I love it!!!! Thank you again Barry Near and Trek Toronto Store for helping me out this year.
Oh ya, I got mommed by Wendy Simms twice this weekend as she finished 2nd on both days. I'm excited she's back and I get to race her this year at the Island Cross Races....that's gonna me fast!!!...haha