Friday, November 27, 2009

Very Late Canton Cup Race Report

I was really excited that Canton Cup was on Halloween this year. I love that race and it's always fun when people get into the spirit and race in costumes. Someday I'm going to get creative and give it a go myself. For the moment, fun & colorful stripey socks will be my contribution to my favorite sport. :-)

I carpooled with Leah, and we got there before the Mens 4 race with enough time for 3 preride laps. The course was a little different from the previous two years, mostly in the back section on the pavement in the woods, where the course went back onto dirt and over a log before continuing on the path.

The tiny barrier section was changed as well, happily, because it used to be super sketchy with the crazy downhill into a hairpin dismount. I was really pleased to discover the uphill section prior to that was either much easier or I am now much stronger (hopefully it's that) because there was no question that it was rideable.

Waiting for my race to start, chatting with friends and teammates, comparing socks and admiring costumes, I failed to pay enough attention when the officials called us to the line (perhaps I had been spoiled by G-Star and Providence's line-up by order of registration) and found myself in the back row. At the last minute I spotted a space in the 3rd row on the right side, went there, but then someone else followed me and stood to my right. This turned out to be unfortunate because when we started, I was effectively boxed in by people who were slower than me. I also failed to be in an appropriate gear (I really should practice starts - so important!) and when there was finally space to go into, I couldn't do it until I had shifted properly. Grrr.

For most of the first lap, I passed people (which is always fun), and luckily avoided the crazy crashes that were happening in the wooded asphalt section. I saw Guila on the ground with blood on her face, but she said she was ok, which was good or I might have been tempted to stop and help. I also passed Leah who was off her bike, but I wasn't sure if she had crashed or just had a mechanical.

I heard people cheering for me all over the course, which is always a bonus. When I crossed the start/finish line, I was shocked to see that we only had one lap to go - really? We only just got started.

On the second (and last) lap, I really wanted to catch up to the small group in front of me. I was going all out, but just couldn't raise my effort level enough to get to them. It didn't help that I must have been going a little too fast in one of the paved, slippery chicanes, and felt my front wheel start to slide out. I pulled up on the handlebars and shifted my weight enough to get the bike under control again, but it put me a little off my game, and made me slightly more cautious in the rest of the corners.

One of the MIT girls passed me just after the run-up when I boggled my remount, and I chased and drafted off her on the track, but lost her again in the barriers. Feeling slightly dejected, I wasn't exactly sprinting for my finish until I heard Cathy R. yelling at me that I better get going or someone was going to beat me to the line. No way! So I picked up the pace and managed to keep whoever it was behind me. I am really grateful to Cathy for telling me that because I didn't realize that it was happening. The race isn't over until it's over. Good thing to remember!

It was disappointing that we only raced two laps. I think that 30 minute races are too short as it is, but I was on the course for a mere 24 minutes! The leader finished in 22 minutes. There was a lot of time in between the fields - I don't understand why we couldn't have done a third lap. I suppose this may be a bit of sour grapes, because while I couldn't raise my game, I felt that I could have kept going at the same level for one more lap and that I might have gained 2-3 places if the race had been longer.

I wasn't very pleased with my race until someone told me that I ended up getting 18th place. With 37 finishers, this placed me in the top 50%. Yippee! This has been an elusive goal of mine for the past two years, yet I have achieved it in my last two races, which is a very sweet feeling.

All in all, I had fun, worked hard, learned some good lessons, and finished better than I thought. It was a good day with fun socks, great costumes, and good friends.

Here's my teammate Karin as a Yip Yip Martian.
It was my favorite costume of the day.
More photos of the race (by Geoff) at Flickr and Picassa.

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