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Sunday, October 01, 2006

Hagens-Berman Star Crossed Cyclocross Race

So, post-LSAT I decided to try a cyclocross race in Seattle. I had considered the possibility earlier but thought that between the LSAT going until 2 and not having a cyclocross bike, I wouldn't be able get to the Marymoor Veldrome in time for the 3:15 race. BUT, while driving to the venue so Alan could race at 7pm, I decided that I absolutely wanted to race and I couldn't live with myself if I didn't make every attempt to race. Luckily, the Elite women were racing at 6pm & I thought I could sneak into that race. So I called my trusty friend RJ and said, "I want to race at 6, do you know of a bike I could borrow?"

Now, maybe I should explain cyclocross for those who haven't had the pleasure of seeing it before. Cyclocross is a cross between road and mountain biking. The bikes have knobby tires and cantilever brakes, but road-like handlebars and frames. The handlebars sometimes have a second set of brake levers so you can brake no matter where on the handlebars your hands are. The race is set up like a long criterium/short circuit race. The women's Elite race was 40 minutes (or so) which ended up being 6-8(?) laps, I lost track. Cyclocross racing is like riding an obstacle course; we had two sections of wooden barriers where you had to jump off your bike, run over barriers, and jump back on again, one set of log steps (again, requiring you to dismount), umpteen really tight corners, and one wooden bridge that went up (enough for people to walk comfortable underneath) at a 45 degree angle, flat for 3 feet, steep downhill, sharp curve. Let me tell you that 45degrees is SCARY.

So I show up, con my way into a number (thanks, Alan!), and RJ has, miraculously, found a bike for me to borrow. Miraculous because cyclocross is pretty tough on bikes, things tend to get broken, Luckily Chris-from-Walla-Walla was willing to let me ride his bike. I change into bike clothes, Alan adjusts my seat and removes the water bottle cages (apparently it's not cool to race with them), I try getting on and off the bike a couple times, ride one lap of the course, and then it's time to start! By now I am scared out of my mind. I haven't been on a bike in a month (probably since the fat tire triathlon), much less on a cyclocross bike or on a cyclocross course and I'm lining up with the Elite Women, with the Masters A field starting half a minute behind us. Oh, dear.

Yep, I got dropped right at the start. I thought I was last, but my mom claims there was one other girl behind me. Too bad, there's a certain honor in being last, and 'second-to-last' just doesn't have the same ring to it. The race itself, other than being way out-classed, was a riot. I didn't fall and only almost-fell once when I didn't quite get my second foot unclipped before I tried to step down on it. The mounting and dismounting was a problem for me. The real cyclocross racers take a flying leap onto their bikes and I kind of did a dainty hop that killed any momentum I had. I decided that cyclocross racing required some cyclocross skill and next time I should remember that before trying to race the pro women.


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