This weekend I jumped back into cross with the Bay Area Super Prestige #1 at Candlestick Point. And to remember the occasion I am sharing some of my random ponderings about it.
So, yes, I raced the Women A's, which I've never done. I usually race whatever Masters category they have, but they eliminated that this year. Yes, that is lame and yes, I made a mention of that at registration. I decided to race A's so that $10 of my entry would go to prize money (as only happens for the A's) and because I haven't enjoyed racing B's so much in the past. OK, maybe if I knew Rachel Lloyd was entered, I'd have changed my mind but I didn't recognize her until too late.
But I'm glad I raced A's. I got a bad start--mostly because those gals were fast. But it also started on pavement and I got nervous being in a sprinting pack of 20 women who I had no idea if they could handle that without crashing. If it was on the dirt, I'd have been better with it. Or if I had less oxygen to my brain. I'll get back to that topic later.
Anyway, I got 19th out of 20. I would have likely been 17th or 18th if I hadn't imagined I had a flat and went into the pit. I decided to save you the details on this one. Probably starting with the low oxygen to the brain at this point. I was very happy with my result--I wasn't last and I was in the A's! I'd race A's again, but I'm going to look for races with Masters categories next race.
So, back to the low oxygen. A couple things I am not good at in cross are my mounts, and bunny hopping. I can practice mounts till I'm blue in the face and I simply cannot convince myself that I want to leap that high. My body just seems to think the risk to benefit ratio is unfavorable and I can't override that.
And I can bunny hop. Like if you put a postage stamp on the ground I am over it no problem--maybe even with both tires! And I'd enjoy that and say "weeeee!" as I went over. But put a curb in front of me and I am slowing down every time. And there was one in this race. Actually, it wasn't a full curb because some dirt/gravel had accumulated in front of it so it was like a 1/2 curb. But it was slightly downhill and at a fast speed. In my warm-ups, I was braking for this part every time.
But in this race I was leaping onto my bike every time--without even thinking about it or really trying. And when I got to the 1/2 curb, I was bunny hopping over it full speed like I did it all the time!
Now why is that? Is it because I was in the A's and trying to do better? Is it because of the competition and not wanting to slow down because it was a race. Maybe a little on both. But, by far and away, I think it was the low oxygen. Whatever fearful part of my brain restrains me was no longer functional without enough oxygen.
I love cross.
Ok, back to the beginning and then I'm done. We're lined up and waiting for the whistle. I count to see how many gals are lined up and notice while I'm doing that that only myself and the gal to my left have cross levers on our bikes. So I ask her "Have cross levers gone out of style and I missed it? You and I are the only ones who have them." She looks around and replies "I use my cross levers all the time. Must be a bunch or Roadies."
I made some noise to agree with her, a little nervous that she'd somehow know I was a Roadie, as she did have a little derision in her tone when she said "Roadie". I have done more road races in general than cross races. I spend more time on my road bike than my cross bike. But then I remembered and said to her "I love my cross levers too. I even have one on my road bike". I think she bought it.
But somehow by the end of the day I realized that I'm really not a Roadie. Even if I enjoy road riding and spend a bunch of time doing it, really I am a Crosser.