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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080

    Bay Area Super Prestige #1 -- Hellyer Park

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    Okay, here's a little race report. Busy, busy week so far.....

    Sunday was the first race in the Bay Area (SF) Super Prestige Series. This race series is promoted by a friend and mentor of mine. All the races are in urban areas, so there are usually lots of spectators. One of the races is less than a mile from my house, and that course was the very first cyclocross race I ever saw (December 2002). The minute I saw that race I was hooked. I ordered a custom cyclocross bike a couple of months later So, this series is usually one of my goals for the season.

    The first race this year was at Hellyer Park in San Jose. The course was interesting -- kinda bumpy (on a former landfill) and dry with a few sandy descents, three sets of barriers (a double on the flats, a double forcing a run-up, and a triple on the back of the course), one gradual climb, a pit of sandy woodchips, and a couple of little diggers. But the coolest part of the course was that each lap we did a full lap of the velodrome. I love riding the track, so I was excited that the course took us into the velodrome.

    There are a bunch of different series in the area, but this one is usually the most popular, with pretty large and competitive fields for the women.

    I wasn't quite sure what to expect at this point. Because of coaching commitments this summer, I didn't start my cyclocross training until just recently. I'm fit, but not cross-specific fit, and my skills are still a bit rusty. But, I raced mtn bikes for the first time this season so I thought that would help my bike handling.

    My day started early. I had agreed to be the EMT for the race in the morning, so I left the house at 7:30 and arrived at Hellyer in time to unload my car (bike, wheels, tent, chair, trainer, food, cooler, clothes, etc) and set up shop in the first aid tent. I knew I needed to be vigilant about sitting when I could, drinking a lot, and eating throughout the morning or I would suffer during my race, which didn't start until 2:00.

    The morning wasn't too eventful. I cleaned up and bandaged a lot of guys, but nothing serious. My EMT shift was scheduled to finish at 12:00. At 11:52 I hear a call on the radio, "Lorri, report to the track immediately -- rider down with a possible broken collarbone!" Not knowing what to expect, I grabbed a bunch of first aid supplies and ran over to the track. When I arrived, I found a racer (with attendant friends) in a lot of pain with what looked like a separated shoulder. After finally convincing him that calling an ambulance was a good thing (if only for the pain meds), I kept him comfortable until the cute firefighters arrived. After they arrived, I was able to leave my post as EMT and finally begin my pre-race preparations at 12:30 (about 30 minutes after I would typically arrive to prep).

    During the morning, my five lovely teammates arrived, set up our tent, and started preparing to race. Erin (E2theD) and Sarah had arrived really, really early and had ridden the course a bit and were chilling at the tent. Erin was acting a bit strange, but I chalked it up to nerves (her boyfriend was there to see her race for the first time). All the SOs were there too, along with Lisa, who's helping manage the team this year, so we had lots of love and support. We pre-rode the course, finished our warm-up on the trainers, and were ready to rock & roll.

    Dang, this is long......but I need to digress a minute.....

    This is my 4th season racing cross. The past three I've raced as a C (the beginner category). Okay, my first season only consisted of one race with a big crash -- season over. I usually finish middle of the pack and I've won two races (one there were only three women and the other was only me). I'm so not a sandbagger. But I always do well in the series standings because I usually do all the races. But because of my involvement in the cycling community, I've gotten a lot of flack from folks because I planned to race Cs again this season. You see, cyclocross is self-categorized -- you pick whichever category you want to race in. Since I've had some health "bumps" the last few years, and I wasn't winning races, I felt okay racing in the Cs.

    Well, this has been the big debate all fall. I don't think I belong in the Bs and I'd actually like to win some races this year. But, they added a women's 35+ category this year. I know the masters are always fast -- lots of pro & expert mtn bikers, CAT2s on the road, national champions, etc. But I bit the bullet and raced with the masters. What the heck, right?

    Anyways, back to the race.

    All the women race together. In past seasons, they've staggered the start by category (A, B, C) by 30 seconds or so. I assumed they'd do the same this season. Someone said the masters women would start right after the A women, so I staged myself next to Linda Elgart (50 years old with national championships in every discipline -- track, road, tt, crit, cyclocross -- she's a total stud). They start the As and I'm in the front row with the other masters women. And then they start all the other categories together (Masters, Bs, and Cs) -- not what we expected.

    I get a great start -- 3rd wheel up the hill. I'm not feeling completely focused and I'm a bit nervous being out there with all the Bs too. The first section after the hill leads to a set of barriers. It's a flat, bumpy section and I just didn't power enough and got passed by a lot of women. After the barriers, there's more flat, then a really duffy, sandy descent with a hairpin through 2 trees and then a set of barriers and a run-up. I was a bit too tentative on all this and lost a few more places. On the run-up, my teammate, Jen, doing her very first cross race, passes me, I cheer, and away she goes.

    I gained some confidence after this and actually passed a few women back and was only passed again by the A women, so basically I just held my ground. I could see all my other Velo Girls teammates about 30 seconds behind me as we entered the second lap. I decided my goal was not to let them catch me. I know, it's kinda strange that you race against your teammates in cyclocross, but it was a good motivater. I continued to open the gap to about two minutes to my closest teammate and felt more comfortable with my skills as I continued around the course.

    I was really surprised not to see Erin during the day. She's super-strong and I predict she'll be winning some races soon. I learned the next day that she hadn't eaten much of anything on Sunday and bonked big-time during the race. That explains the odd behavior pre-race and also the fact that she didn't kick butt on Sunday. But it's a good lesson. I actually suggest everyone bonk once just so they learn how important food is to performance.

    Anyways, I felt good, finished strong, and got the second race of the season under my belt. I waited at the chute to the velodrome (where the finish line was) to cheer on all my teammates as they came in. We all rode over to the tent, chatted a bunch, drank a beer, took some photos, cheered for Jen on the podium, and headed home after a long day.

    So, back to my debate....which category should I race? I did some post-race analysis of all the women's times. I finished 9th of 11 in the masters. I was a bit disappointed with this, but given the caliber of the competition and the fact that it's still early in the season, I'm okay with it. But, if I'd raced with the Cs, I would've finished 6th of 15, which made me really happy. Since it's a series, I'll stick with the masters and see if I can move up a few places over the course of the season. But I think I'll race Cs in one of the other series just to try to win a race or two.

    My teammate Jen, in her first cross race ever (and third race of any kind), won the Cs. The rest of our teammates finished a bit down from me and placed mid-pack in the Cs. And we all had a ton of painful fun.
    Last edited by velogirl; 10-11-2006 at 08:29 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Vermont
    Posts
    114

    Way to Go!

    That sounds like a wicked awesome race!

    Especially getting to ride the velodrome!
    The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Off eating cake.
    Posts
    1,700
    Nice report.

    I need to stay out of this forum though - sounds too much like something I might want to try some day...
    Drink coffee and do stupid things faster with more energy.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Flagstaff AZ
    Posts
    2,521

    Great job to all of you

    Sounds like a fun race - it's nicer to have more people to compete with!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    The coolest thing is there were 57 women total in the field! That's one of the bigger fields I remember for this early in the season. And all the big-time A's were back east racing in the crankbros series.

    Check this out! I don't know about DNFs, but these were the finishers:

    A -- 13
    B -- 15
    C -- 14
    Masters -- 11

    Wow!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Bay Area, CA
    Posts
    102
    I think it is great that there was such a nice showing for the women. I was there on Sunday (mainly for the women's race and to cheer E2theD on. Lorri, I hope to introduce myself when I see you next!)) and I was so impressed. These women are strong, determined and a real inspiration to me. There is something really lovely about cross racing. It is dirty and grueling, but elegant and graceful at the same time.

    I have a question about water. It was fairly warm out there on Sunday. Do you go the full time without any water? Is it something you train for and get used to?

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080
    In most races it's against the rules to take a feed (ie have someone hand you water). Since it's only 40 minutes, if you're well-hydrated before-hand, you won't need it (from a physiological pov). However, from a mental pov, you probably "think" you need it -- your mouth feels dry so you think you're thirsty.

    I chew gum. Keeps me from feeling thirsty (kinda).

    I actually had someone feeding me during this race. I don't usually, but since we had volunteers, I took him up on it.

    Occassionally you'll see someone racing with a CamelBak, but that's really unusual. You might also see someone with a water bottle in their jersey pocket, but again, unusual.

    To answer your question, I guess you just get used to it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    1,080

    Cross Ballet

    I have to agree that cross is a beautiful sport. Here's one of my favorite photos in the whole world.

    I feel silly saying this, but please follow the link and don't lift/copy the photo -- I don't know why Russ doesn't have it protected. He and his wife are professional bike race photographers and if you love the photo, too, I would encourage you to purchase the photo.

    http://www.pbase.com/russwright/image/33363888/large

 

 

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