Monday, December 3, 2007

USGP#5&6: Portland, OR, December 1-2, 2007; Home town advantage?

I was so excited to finally have the final 2 races of the USGP series at home. Nothing beats sleeping in your own bed, not having to mapquest to get everywhere and cooking in your own kitchen. Plus, a home town crowd to cheer me on. What could be better? Well, the weather could have been, but this is Portland and what's a Portland USGP without a little mud. Or a lot in our case. But I still wasn't worried. I knew it would be fine. It's all about attitude, right?

USGP#5: Saturday, 12/1
For once, Tim raced before me, so I was in NO rush. In fact, I didn't even go out to PIR with him on Saturday. I wanted to have my 'last breakfast' after he wanted to be there. Our races were almost 2 hours apart, but I would get there in time to cheer. Conditions were cold and wet. More cold than wet and actually we saw some snow. It was about 37 degrees, maybe 40. But it was cold, muddy and wet. The course was fun and it was going to be epic. There was no doubt in my mind. Tim had an amazing race and finished 9th in the elite masters 35+. I was so proud of him and even after freezing out there, he had a smile on his face. I had a second row line up for my race. I warmed up on the track around PIR and was totally prepared to suffer. I was not, however, totally prepared to run a half lap after my rear derailleur broke on the second lap, pretty much as far away from the pit as I could have been. And, I am not a fast runner. So, my good position in the top 10 was soon replaced by being dead last. Yep, everyone passed me. It was a long run. I was getting scared of getting lapped. But I made it to the pit and got my 'B' bike and off I went. I crawled my way back to 18th, but I was not happy. It's never fun to have mechanicals, but it is part of racing. Tomorrow was another day...

USGP#6: Sunday, 12/2
Just when you thought it couldn't get more epic! It was hosing out. It was definitely going to be a suffer fest out there. Today I went with Tim to the venue to make sure my bike was going to be in working order. I had left it with the Cannondale friends and they said they had it under control. Sure enough, I had a new derailleur on the bike. Not the exact same one, but it would do just fine. I actually took a lap in my rubber boots when I got there, b/c a race had just ended and though I would see what kind of fun we were in for. It was going to be soupy and fun. Definitely a bit frigid, but I like mud.
Tim had another amazing race. He placed 9th again, but was only seconds away from 5th and if his bike had been shifting, he probably would have closed that gap. So, with only two national series races, he took 15th in the series. Way to go Tim.
My race, on the other hand, is a true saga. I was truly mentally ready for this race and was not going to let anything stop me. I had an awesome start and found myself on Georgia's wheel for the first half lap. The lead group was in my sights and I was fighting it out with my usual duo, Kerry B. and Amy D. I hadn't seen Wendy at this point, so wasn't sure what was happening. I just know the crowd was going wild!!! On the second lap, I went into the pit, b/c I was having no luck with my shifting. I figured things were just mucked up and I was not going to break off another derailleur, even though it was my front that was giving me more problems. So, I rode a lap and a half with my 'b' bike, continuing the battle, sitting in the top 10 (apparently 6th) when it happened. On the back side I felt like I was hitting my rim on the roots, so just to be safe, I wanted to get my 'A' bike back and ride my tubulars. I went in for the bike change and was told my bike wasn't there. I was shocked. I didn't know what to do. The official looked at me and said, "without a bike change, you are DQ'd", so I turned back to Dean and yelled, "give me a bike. ANY bike." I ended up leaving the pit 20 seconds plus later with Wendy's pit bike which is a few sizes too small and has different pedals. So, I rode unclipped for another half lap until I could get into the pits again. In the meantime, Wendy caught up and I warned her I had her bike. She asked, "are you riding unclipped?" Well, yes, I am. And it sucked. But it beat running. So, back in the pit on what turned out to be the last lap and I tried my best to chase down the three people in front of me, now riding my own bike, but it was hopeless. I ended up a very disappointing 14th and found myself shivering and in tears at the end of the race. I think the cold had finally gotten to me. I was actually sobbing. And then I was told I was DQ'd anyhow. More sobs. I protested, they accepted it (thanks to Dean for clarifying what happened to the officials). It was a rough weekend. But again, that is racing and I am sure this has made me stronger. Not sure exactly how, but damnit, I survived.

Race afterthoughts: Although a disappointing weekend and it didn't go as I wanted it to, I will not look back and focus forward to nationals. I am hoping my poor performance (although I did race well despite the mechanicals) won't cost me a trip to worlds. But, at any rate, I am booked to go to Europe. I haven't posted this anywhere yet, but Wendy and I are fulfilling our dream of racing in Europe. We leave the 19th and return after Worlds. It is going to be a whirlwind of racing and we are excited. More about that later...

1 comment:

erikv said...

Wow, that's a great story. Day one was a bummer, but day! I doesn't get much more crazy than that. Good job, and good luck in Europe.