Monday, November 27, 2006

Jingle Cross rocks!! Day 2

Ever wondered what it would be like to race in the legendary Cross Crusade? Ever wonder what it would be like to watch a Cross Crusade? Then if you weren't at Jingle Cross Rock Day 2, you should have been, because it was the closest thing I've seen here, and it was a blast! I think this was the hardest CX race I've done - ever. And yet, coming across the finish, I had a huge smile on my face! It had the brutal runup of Flying M Ranch, some tricky technical sections, many races that lasted most of the day, crazy fans and mayhem, big turnout (okay, not 800 racers, but still big!), big payouts, well-organized and lots of fun! The only thing missing was a hot tub at the top of the runup and mud!
__So this is how it went down. We got there early for Lynne's race. We prerode the course, and there was a short steep hill that she was struggling with. She was getting really frustrated and wanted to quit before the race even started. I tried to help with some technique, but there was no way around having to just torque up that hill and turn the bike at the same time. She was sounding like Adam Meyerson in the Transitions DVD! 'Why am I doing this?' She stopped on that hill on the first lap of the women's beginner race and held everyone up, which made her so mad at herself that she just powered her way up it out of sheer anger each subsequent lap. She finished in essentially the same place as the day before, so being a harder race she did well.
__After Lynne's race I had Chris Horner sign my race number. The night before I ran into him at the hotel, and we chatted briefly about Oregon and the Crusades. What a cool guy, and a kick-ass racer as well.
__The course was similar to the day before, but in reverse. We did a tour of a grassy section but no barriers on that part this time. We looped back the the start/finish area, did an out and back along the front of the bleachers, and then had to do a 180 turn up the aforementioned short steep section to end up above the bleachers. The out and back was deleted from the beginner's course because it killed any momentum you'd have and made it harder to negotiate the hill. I was almost cramping on it. The bumpy off camber along the bleachers again, off camber descent to the back of the stables and then an out and back in the grass to a runup that was where we had descended the day before. The barrier before the runup killed any momentum and was a higher jump since it was placed on the hill. The runup was absolutely brutal, but you couldn't help but give it everything because it was lined with fans ringing cowbells, shouting encouragement and having fun to blasting music. Truly epic in the Cross Crusade style! Then a bumpy descent back down the hill and out to the back grassy section. A rideable trip through a ditch, a very short up and back down a little hill, back over the muddy ditch and an out and back with a triple barrier. Then a long grassy section out to the road, up and back down the embankment, a grassy run back into the stables, a fast gravel road back to the start/finish area, then a double barrier on a turn. After that we snaked out way around and through the stables, including another tour of Grinch's Lair (sandpit), then back to the finish line along a fast off camber section. This course actually allowed for more recovery between the difficult sections, which was good because the runup really took its toll.
__Still it was harder than the day before, because of the runup and because my back was hurting from someone crashing into me on the descent the day before. It prevented me from breathing in fully, kind of like having a side stitch, but it was in my back. Plus forgetting the inhaler, and I was dropped like a bad habit from the middle group about halfway through the race. Still, I'd drift back through stragglers so I'd try to stay on and not get passed by too many people, which meant that I wasn't slacking for most of the race. If I'm stuck in no man's land I just can't push it too hard, so trying to catch on to the smaller groups kept my pace high.
__At the end of the race I was exhausted, but somehow happier than I've been in a long time. I was hanging strong with the B racers, having an awesome weekend and enjoying life. What more could you ask for?
__I had more, but Blogger lost it, so I'll post the elite races plus a video, later.