Bulls on Parade

The phrase “bull in a china shop” might just be the title of my new book, and the theme of what has already been a roller coaster ride of a ‘cross season. In less than 3 weeks, I’ve successfully destroyed one wheel, one shifter, two cell phones, a helmet, and a top tube. October has been nuttier than Anthony Clark in a post-race Dirtwire interview, only with less nosebleeds and top 10 finishes.

August was the biggest and best month I’ve ever had, with 50+ hours of training and nearly 60,000 ft of climbing.  I had a strong base going into September, and felt ready to smash.  Apparently, I need to be more clear about what I’m attempting to smash, because the bike gods got it wrong this time.  Providence would prove to be a wam-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of weekend.

I could spend hours gabbing about my first Providence Cyclocross Festival.  I could tell you about “Flyovergate” and how awesome it felt to pedal my ‘cross bike up and over something that many people felt the need to bitch about.  There are so many stories to tell and lessons learned from those 3 days in New England, but I don’t have that much free time.

Providence made a woman out of me.  The course was technical, my field was huge (with nearly 130 women), and the crowd was awesome. I rode out of my comfort zone, and applied the skills I picked up from Cycle-Smart ‘cross camp. I felt like a certified bike driver that weekend, and experienced my best races to date. I would have likely finished in the top 20 both days, but the crash-and-destroy juju was too powerful for me to resist. One wheel and one shifter later, I still finished in the top 40% both days- 10% better than what I had hoped for. And I learned how to throw bows.

I followed my award-winning New England performance with a powerful women’s A race at Asheville Cyclocross’ Pisgah Brewery event. This course was known to destroy my legs and my mind in previous years, so I didn’t have high expectations for this year. When I popped out of the start line behind the holeshot, I realized I had a chance to kick some ass. I made the turns my bitch (Thanks Adam and Jacob), and felt stronger than ever. I managed a 6th place finish, right where I needed to be.

I had managed two stellar weekends in a row- I was high as a kite. The wind eventually calmed down, and my kite plummeted to the ground.

The North Carolina Cyclocross series kicked off in Clemmons, NC, and my excitement was through the roof. I still had very low expectations, but was anxious to see what my legs were capable of after a big off-season. Being a 3 in an elite 1/2/3 field is kind of a buzzkill, but after a season of getting my skull kicked in, I knew where I stood. The only goals I had for race #1 and #2 were: DON’T GET LAPPED-and-DON’T BE LAST. I don’t ask for a lot.

Clemmons was hard as shit. The course was rad, but the bumpiest ground I’ve ever laid eyes on. I managed to destroy my heart rate immediately by way of an awesome start and a super steep climb after the first turn. The triple-log-barriers forced me off the bike and immediately led into a small, rideable, set of mini logs. I hopped over them, leaving a lot of grace and finesse on the ground behind me. It was still faster than running, and I was able to keep my momentum going.

My mama used to always say, “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke”. I never listened to her then, and most certainly don’t make the best decisions in my adult life. In fact, I could be the worst decision maker on the planet, right behind Lance Armstrong and Monica Lewinsky. I’m still waiting on Oprah to call me for an interview.

3 laps and 28 minutes into my race, I was doing pretty well for myself, in spite of how shitty I felt. Coming off a recovery week is brutal, especially when you are trying to “race” with a bunch of strong cat 1s and 2s. I decided it would be a terrific idea to increase my speed going into the small set of logs, with the plan of clearing them, rather than literally riding over them. Just as I was clearing the first log, my back wheel bounced, throwing me out of my rhythm. I managed to recover, but not in time to set up for the second log, and I wasn’t able to clear my front wheel.

Translation: I ate immortal shit. **Todd Wells example** Only difference was, I did not get up.

As I was flying through the air, I mapped out my escape plan. I would get up immediately, pretending it didn’t hurt, and remount like nothing happened. “I got this”. Well, I didn’t factor in taking ALL the impact on my head, nearly knocking me out. When my head hit the ground, I saw a flash of light and heard what sounded like firecrackers going off in my ears.

I felt the men from the other race riding over me, and I thought, “Fuck. I should probably get out of the way”, but I couldn’t move. Have you ever heard a “screwed and chopped” version of a rap song? The Notorious B.I.G. will give you an example of what the outside world sounded like in my head at that moment: ***B.I.G.***

Luckily, a friend of mine was close by, and he jumped in to drag my ass off the course. My race was over, my top tube was bent, and my helmet was cracked in 5 places. My ‘broken shit list’ had expanded, and my total number of brain cells remaining had diminished.

I didn’t race the next day.

So, that was my NCCX season opener in a nutshell. Next up, MSG on November 1st, followed by NCCX #4 in Boone on November 2nd. I have a new helmet, new tires, and a new skin suit. My birthday month will most definitely be better than Crashtober. IT WILL BE BETTER.

Silver linings:

1. I’m not paralyzed
2. Liberty Bike Shop’s helmet sales keep going up
3. I gave the crowd a good show
4. SRAM gave me a new shifter
5. PSIMET wheels are bullet-proof
6. My bike is still rideable
7. I rode the infamous flyover before Flyovergate made it a mandatory run up (because I’m too scared to
ride over 2x2s)
8. I fell in love with New England Cyclocross
9. I gave a kid $5 and FINALLY got a Tim Johnson face cutout
10.Stephen Hyde won day 2 at Providence, and I’m pretty sure it was because I told him I’d kiss him on the
mouth if he pulled off the win. I never held up my end of the deal, though.

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