So, I have never won a race in my life, ever. This bewilderment totally took me by a surprise. Especially from being sore all week and missing on training. Could it be because it was the Halloween weekend and my competition partied the night before? I guess I will find out next week.
It was a fairly chilly day with some sun rays. The course was the first muddy course at the Chicago Cyclocross Cup (CCC) series this year. It included fairly challenging climbs and a bunch of technical sections with somewhat sharp rocks, 2x4’s in the ground, single track in the woods, and mud dips.Tim Yuska
Photo by Liz Farina Markel, Tipping Point Photography, Chicago, ILhttp://www.tippingpointphoto.com/
This was my first time racing in the mud. During the first lap I went slow because I didn’t want to get myself or my bike dirty. The second lap was a bit faster but still fairly slow as I tried to learn the course. I still couldn’t believe I was getting dirty before my actual race. A thought kept coming up, “What if my bike gets too muddy and something will go wrong in my actual race?“ But I kept pre-riding. At one point Scott McLaughlin from SRAM passed me. I tried to keep up but no avail.
There was a pretty slippery and muddy section right after the woods that I could not ride and had to dismount to get though. I was not happy. I think I pre-rode that section about ten times to gain enough confidence where I wouldn’t have to get off my bike. I was still not comfortable. I managed to pre-ride 2 more laps prior to Men's 1/2/3 race.
So before I jump into race specifics, I’ll briefly mention nutrition. I have been playing with different types of nutrition for the past 5 races. Last week it was a disaster for me. I read an article in triathlon magazine which mentioned that caffeine could boost performance. I believe it recommended to consume 3-7mg of caffeine per kg of body weight. And what happened? I went overboard. I’ve had so much caffeine that my heart felt like it was going to explode. I finished the race my heart felt like it continued to race, without me. That definitely scared me. So this time I only had 100mg of caffeine (1 ZYM Catapult Berry tablet mixed with water) prior to the race, instead of – I don’t even want to mention!
On to the race. The whistle fired and the race went on. About five or six riders charged to the front and I tried to stay behind them. I think it was the $20 prime for the winner of the first lap that caused such furiousness. Then I don’t know how but I managed to pass one rider at a time. After the first lap I passed the last two riders and I was in the lead. Apparently I tried too hard because towards the end of the second lap someone yelled out to relax because I had over 10 second lead. I couldn’t believe it. I kept telling myself to take it easy and slow down so I wouldn't fall or do something silly. Which has been the case in the past where I was in the lead. This time the mud was on my side.
On the final lap I started lapping other riders. Right before the slippery climb I dropped my chain, not sure how, but managed to get on the bike and without running up the climb. I passed some more along the way, said “Hi” to super girl, and on to the finish. Then I watched the officials while they flipped the lap counter. I won? Really? I still couldn't believe it.
Photo by Nikki Cyp
Prior to the race someone asked me if I was a “mudder.” I didn’t know what it meant but after they described it, I answered, “no.” This is my first cross season and I have never raced in the mud. Apparently I enjoyed the mud so much that I suppose I could now consider myself as one. :)
There are four more wonderful CCC races left in the season, and Jingle Cross. Some of the team members will race Jingle Cross during the Thanksgiving weekend, three days in a row. I’m not sure what to think of Jingle Cross, but future will tell.