Show Up, Take Risks, Ride Fast and Soak in the Cheers!

CHI CROSS CUP - W 1/2/3 

CCC#1: LaBagh Woods
The first race of the year is usually held at Caldwell Woods, but it’s in a low-lying area and heavy rains flooded the park a few days before. The race staff pulled off an amazing feat by securing a new venue and creating a brand new course in a matter of days. The park is relatively small so the course had a TON of turns which I enjoyed. For whatever reason I did pretty well, and somehow ended up in 5th place behind some fast ladies. However, 3rd was not that far off…I should’ve pushed myself harder. My take-away from the race: go faster next time! Take risks!

CCC #2: Hopkins Park
I raced at Hopkins last year and besides the flyover, my only memory of the course was that I didn’t like it. I couldn’t remember why I didn’t like it until I rode the course again- so damn bumpy! I had a good start but quickly dropped from 3rd to 9th over 6 laps. Mistake of the day: substituting a pack of Honey Stinger chews for a gel right before the race (I only had one and usually eat two). What was I thinking?! By lap two I wanted to puke. It sucked.  On top of that I felt like I was riding a jackhammer for 45 minutes- my back was really sore and every bumped sucked the energy out of me. We had some very fast out-of-towners come in for this race and I was just happy to take 9th. Blah. The take-away from this race: run tubeless or pony up for tubulars next year. Lower pressure would’ve been nice.

CCC #3: Dan Ryan Woods
Admittedly the only reason I was excited about doing this race is because of the park’s proximity to Rainbow Cone. I love Rainbow Cone.  But DRW also happens to be my favorite course in the CCC because it’s very mountain-bikey, with a lot of climbing, singletrack and fast downhills.  I woke up this morning feeling extremely tired and even stayed in bed for an extra hour (which I never do). Then there was the toddler and cockatiel beatdown.  Ugh! Sometimes I think it’s a major victory if we just get out the door on time and don’t forget anything.

Before I go any further I should mention that most of the top lady racers were up at the Trek Cup in Wisconsin this weekend.  Moving on…  So based on series points I got the first call-up, and even at the start line I felt tired. Just…sleepy.  My legs felt awful but were shocked into submission as I moved around the top five. At one point I was second, then fifth, and then fourth. I even tried bunny-hopping the little barriers, but in reality I looked (and felt) like a buffalo crashing into a fence. Ha!  I went slower and slower as the race progressed, and pretty much just let the fifth place girl pass me. I had nothing left. So I ended up in fifth and took home another $80. I am kind of disappointed though because I feel like I should’ve placed higher in this race. Oh well. On a side note, when I got back to the team tent and flopped on the ground, AKA rushed over to take care of me with the ice pack from our cooler. She kept asking if I was OK and even wiped the dirt off my legs. So darn cute!

Random Thoughts:
It’s mid-October and so far I’ve done 3/11 races of the series. 11!  I know it’s early in the season but I can’t help but feel a little discouraged. I really try not to compare life before/after AKA but boy, I used to be a lot faster!  Is it because I’m a mom now and have different priorities? Or the fact that I’m 37? Or because I have chronic insomnia and never feel rested? I’m guessing it’s a combination of those things and probably other stuff too. I don’t have the mental drive like I used to either- I used to put up a fight if I were passed, now I just kinda shrug my shoulders and think “It’s not like I’m a pro or something.”.  I’m starting to wonder if I hit my personal peak a few years ago and should just be put out to pasture in a masters category. Or take up singlespeed.

On a positive note, this year’s CX season has been way better from a social standpoint. Last year I didn’t know anyone and now I have people cheering for me all over the course! It’s great.

So I might to back to the drawing board and re-evaluate my goals for the season. I had planned on racing the entire CCC but it looks like I’ll have to miss a couple races, and at some point I’d like to try another race in Wisconsin. Maybe Jingle Cross too.

Stay tuned…

-Karyn A.