Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Hess Mess Race Report and 3 more

Friday Night I was at the bike shop to pickup up my Henry after he got a new rear tire. I also picked up some spare tubes. I packed my stuff on Saturday and was ready to leave for the race when Henry got a flat on his front tire. I debated changing it myself but then I would be out of spare tubes again. I decided to stop at the bike shop on my way out of town and let them do it for a couple of reason. They would do it faster and I would trust their job better than mine. And in case it was something more than just a punctured tube. I didn’t have the time to play around with this at the race. There was a thorn stuck in my front tire that punctured the tube. It wasn’t a big deal and I was on my way. However, now I wouldn’t get there to pre-ride the course before the first race started. I was riding in the second race.  I was a little stressed about it but what can you do. At least I had a rideable bike at this point. I took my mtn bike just in case something else happened to henry. I felt a little better knowing I had a pit bike. When I got to the race and got myself numbered and ready to race I asked the race director if I could sneak on with the beginner race just so I could see the course. He was nice enough to let me do it. It may have been better if I didn’t see what was coming before the race!  Basically the course was a series of mud bogs separated by a creek crossing. Yes in December in the northeast.  I’m gonna take a quick moment to explain how cyclocross developed since when I talk to most people that don’t race this they just don’t seem to get it. And this might help you understand that while your are right and cross racers probably have some sort of mental illness there is a method to the madness or at least a story. And here it is. Cross start a long time ago in a far away place called Europe. At the end of road racing season the roadies would have these little races to keep in shape and have some fun before winter set in and the roads were really unrideable. All of the riders would gather in town and they would race over to the next town any way they could. Meaning they could go on the roads, off the roads, through farmland, etc.  usually they were following the steeple as it was the easiest point to see and the sport is very similar to steeplechase in running. Anyway, since there was no set course the riders often too short cuts through muddy streets, grasslands, and had to do things like jump fences with their bikes or run their bikes on unrideable terrain. This is where you get the basically elements of today’s cross courses. Meaning barriers, mud, grass, and yeah even a creek crossing.   Ok onto the race. The course started with a little prologue on a rail trail that lead into the course. I got a good position in the start so I got out fairly well. There were a couple of riders that went down but it was behind me so I didn’t get caught up in it. Once we turned onto the actual course it was off camber and a few of us were hitting each as we were still pretty packed up. I found it kind of amusing that everytime I got hit by a guy on a bike he would apolize to me and ask me if I was ok.  Um yeah it’s bike racing. I think they were just uncomfortable with women being out on the race course with them. I am pretty sure if they were cracking into each other they would not be so courteous about it. So then we were off into the mud. Riding uphill In the mud wasn’t bad on the hills that weren’t really steep. On the first downhill I feel. Basically there were two steep downhills. Your bike is so covered with mud that your brakes basically don’t do anything. They are clogged with mud as is your entire braking surface so even though I was pulling my brakes. They really don’t do much to slow you down at all. My tired were so clogged with mud and grass etc. small tree limbs and leaves that it was like having slick on. It was basically a mud slide down the hill. I just tried to control the descent the best I could. Off the hill you went right through the creek. The first part of the crossing wasn’t bad but it was a lot deeper than I  expected it to be. once you hit the far end there was a lot of current and I saw a few men go down when they hit that part so I rode as far as I could and then I ran my bike the rest of the way through the creek. I felt it was the better way to go because once these guys fell they were completely soaked and it was cold out. And of course their bikes were washing downstream when they fell which was just kinda funny to watch. Where if you run basically your legs are wet but your legs are working so hard it doesn’t make that much of difference. Although I will say my feet instantly froze over and I didn’t feel them again until a couple of hours after the race. All of the mud also made for some trouble clipping in and out. That was the only good thing about the creek is it got some of the mud off your bike but that lasted for about 5 seconds. And I don’t know if I can say I was really running. The water was above my knees the entire tire and at some points almost hip height. So when I was riding the water was higher than my hubs. If the water wasn’t so deep I think it would have been much easier to ride because that is a lot of current hitting your wheel at that height.  So the rest of the course was muddy. There were two unridable steep hills that were even tough to run up because of the mud. At one point a guy running up the hill behind me was helping me shoulder my bike by taking so of the weight off for me. That was nice although I am pretty sure it’s illegal.  I can’t remember the details of the race that well. I fell at least twice. Once was because I couldn’t get my foot clipped out fast enough. I ran my bike more than ever before because of the muddy conditions and my current skill level. So there was a lot of dismounting and mounting. There were 2 sets of barriers but I didn’t have any trouble with them as they were probably one of the easier parts of this course.  I was in the lead starting the race but once I fell the women that went on to win pasted me and I couldn’t catch her after that.  But what I learned from this race is I need to save my money and buy a real mountain bike with suspension and disc brakes and not the old school mtn bike I have and I need to commit to mtn bike training regularly. They can go and do some xterra tris!  My skills hurt me the most of this race but at this point in the season there isn’t much time to get them more developed. There seems to be 2 sets of riders at these things the mtn bikers that have the skills but are less fit and then the roadies that are fit as hell but the technical stuff freaks us out.  So I need to add some mtn biking into the program and get the handing skills so that when I have to ride across a creek in a race it isn’t the first time I am doing it. I’ll already have the fitness from all the tri training. A few people that I talked to after the race said this was more of a mtn bike race then a real cross race because of the conditions but cross def has mud involved. I just never had to ride through it so deep before and I don’t even know where I find mud this deep to try to train in. I am racin again this Sunday and I expect it to be a less technical course with more cross elements. Overall it wasn't my best race but i still got a 2nd place so it wasn't too bad either. I am really banged up from this race. I have too many bruises to count. Although 7 of which are pretty big. I hope they are cleared up for the race this weekend but I doubt it.  Above is a shot of me testing out the course to see how deep this water was.

Sunday I took a 40ish minute road ride to recovery. It was a flat easy ride but it was soooo nice to be on my R3. I just love that bike. I also did a 2 hour restorative yoga class.  Monday – into the pool warmup was 400 swim, and 10 x 50 distance per stroke. I may have done more than 10 I was losing count. Main set was 5 x 200 as 50 easy, 100 hard, 50 drill all with fins on. With 30 seconds of rest between. The drills were hard to do as  i was cooked from the hard effort especially with the fins since they make you swim faster than if I didn’t have them on.  100 to cooldown of breast and backstroke. Also did some weights. Bodyweight exercises to warmup and then pushpress as 45x5, 55x5, 60x3, 65x3, 75x3, 80x3 then 85 x 3 for 7 rounds. I think I may have been able to do a little more weight but I wanted to have good control over the weight and watch my knee which this new work being introduced to it.  I took a vinyasa flow class at night and we really worked on opening our hips. I was pretty tired afterwards.

Tuesday – totally slept in this morning. The alarm went off a bunch of times and I just did not want to get out of bed. I kept falling back to sleep so im going to have to ride my bike tonight.  But I did get my crossfit workout in. some bodyweight stuff to begin including 25 situps and 25 pushups. Then I worked on my thruster a bit. Its been awhile since I did them. Went 20 x 5, 30 x 5, 40 x5, 50 x 5. Then did my wod of

21 – 15  - 9
Thrusters at 40 lbs

Time 5:25

I am feeling the CF love. I was a little sore from yesterday. I know I can do heavier thrusters but I wanted to keep the weight at a level where I was working but not on the line of straining. I didn’t want to through that bar off my squat and have any issues with my knee. I think I picked a good weight because I was def tired and taxed while I was doing it but not to the point where I had to take a lot of breaks. My arms were def feeling it on the pushups too. I got through all of them but none of them were easy after the thrusters. Did my stretching.

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