Sunday, September 30, 2012

Turkey Chase CX

Turkey Chase CX pb Fat Frogs Racing
By Avanell

This race marks the beginning of the VACX series for the 2012/2013 season.  The course was held on property owned by Jeff and Glenda Craddock who were wonderful enough to open it up to everybody for this great event...

I packed arm warmers, knee warmers, embrocation, a base layer, and a wool cycling cap for today's race.  I thought it would be muddy, overcast, and way cooler than it was.  My weather source was far from accurate.  The sun blazed down on us, and there were only a few muddy spots on the course.  Though those few spots would create a lot of heartache during the day.

There were five of us that lined up for the Women's 1,2,3 race at 12:30 this afternoon: Myself, Leslie, Alena Pugacheva (VCU), Jen Pope (Velocita), and Sally McMahon (Conte's).  Unfortunately, much different than the 30+ women lined up for the start of Charm City.  But it was still a lot of fun!  At the whistle (or siren), I took the holeshot into the first right hand turn, then left, and over the first set of barricades.  The course then opened up into one of the two non-grass sections...onto a dirt/gravel road with a u-turn around a small building (sorry I wasn't paying too close attention) where the Craddock's had the music blaring.  Another short section of dirt/gravel, and then the course turned us onto the grass field that the main portion of the race was on.  The grass was extremely thick, making any type of momentum hard to keep, and any chance of a recovery almost non-existent.  Even on the slight descents, keeping yourself from bouncing out of your saddle was high priority and took quite a bit of energy.  Twisting and turning, we made our way across of the field into the second set of barricades.  By this time, Alena and I were opening a slight gap on Jen and the remainder of the field.  Which just to point out, Jen had just finished the11:00 am Singlespeed race.  The barricades preceded a slightly mushy bit of grass that led into a double track section through the woods.  The first 100 feet into the woods, the hardpacked dirt turned to slick dirt, which turned to very thick, deep, wet, and gooey mud that would lead to many hours of bicycle cleaning.  The double track continued for about 1/2 a mile, and opened into the grass field again.  But not before hitting another section of mud.  Not the mud that slings up like at the beginning of the wooded section, but the mud that sucks your tires in and takes every bit of your energy to push through.  The lap ended with that patch followed by a gradual, grassy uphill.

We raced for six laps through this course.  All the while, Alena and I battled back and forth.  I tried several times to shake her off of my wheel.  Her having an all road background, she comes with quite a bit of power for her small stature!  The course was definitely designed for those road riders in mind!  She would make her way back up to any attack that I threw at her.  We traded places and pace-making every half lap or so, and she always seemed to be able to come around me in the last patch of mud before the climb to the finish (it really was very gradual...but because of the mud and grass it seemed endless!).  The last lap, I had to make some type of move.  I couldn't go into the last section with her on my wheel.  I had no sprint in my legs and that bit of mud would drain any bit of momentum I had until I was almost at a standstill.  After the second set of barricades, I gassed it into the woods.  The one place where I had a solid advantage.  With a mountain bike background, I'm more comfortable picking a line, pedaling through the mud, and taking the more technical corners at speed.  I couldn't bring myself to look back until I was at the line.  Through the mud, I pushed myself up that endless stretch to the finish line, crossing in first.

Completely exhausted and feeling like I needed to puke, I ripped off my W123 number and lined up a couple rows behind Chris for the Men's 3/4 race.  I had no expectations for this race, just to finish.  I did, however, pass a few guys before I got lapped by the leaders (Chris included!) and did not finish last like I had expected.  I finished with five more laps under my wheels and Chris completed his second race of the day in 4th place out of 40!  Less than 5 seconds from a 3rd place finish.  FYI, his first race was Singlespeed where he flatted out with three laps to go.

I am not typically a fan of the "grass crit" type course, but there were enough technical aspects that made this course much more interesting than I had first anticipated.  Glenda and all the Fat Frogs crew did an awesome job coordinating...I just wish more people would come out and race cross!!!  Great job to everybody out there today and thanks to everybody for giving me shout-outs during my races!

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