Murphy’s Law

This blog could have a thousand titles, but I have settled on Murphy’s Law: if something can go wrong, it will.

My last race was Charm City in Baltimore. After Charm I had a weekend of rest and training, with emphasis on the rest because I got a head cold that didn’t take me out, but I couldn’t push through because that is the recipe for digging a hole. Turns out, most everyone who raced at charm got sick in one way or another. Please, tell me more about this human-waste-water induced mud slog we raced through ::thinking emoji::.

I was pumped up after Charm, finally breaking through a mental barrier I spent an entire year building up, brick by brick. Though I didn’t get a ton of training in, after last year I can learn to appreciate some good rest so I was still pretty confident going into DCCX. I had never raced there before, but this year I swapped my race/rest week, resting on Gloucester and racing DCCX because 1) DCCX asked me to be there, something Gloucester promotors have never done. 2) I have heard great things about the DCCX course, and the Gloucester course makes me want to rip my toenails off just to have a feeling and 3) PARKWAY CX TROPHY!!!!! The series was a 2 weekend 4 race series between Charm City and DCCX weekends based on cumulative time. When I registered I thought my chances of a win were slim, but of a podium were good. After Charm City Day 1 I was sitting 4th. After Maghalie didn’t race Sunday I was 3rd. But Ellen didn’t wear the jersey so I was 2nd. And Kaitie Keough was already planning to race the world cup in Bern the weekend of DCCX, so next thing you know, I am leading the series by 30 seconds or so ahead of Sunny Gilbert!

mine.

DCCX was a race weekend I was capable of winning, and the series was mine for taking. Finally, I was about to step up to Kerry Werner status.

The course was flowy and pedally. There were roots and broken up pavement, but I wasn’t worried because I have learned to hop and float. The damp ground was watt-suckingly spongey, which made the straights slow and the corners rippable. A few of the corners were loose which just meant you had to stay alert and off your brakes. I had it all dialed. I even told Kerry I was feeling smooth – a good thing or a bad thing, who knows?

Day 1 offered a prime for the 1st lap – first rider across the line after lap 1 wins $250. At the gun Sunny Gilbert was ON IT, going after that prime and a 30 second lead over me. I Becca’d the start in a true Becca fashion, getting stuck behind a line of riders stuck behind a rider who could start but couldn’t turn. I am patient trying to pass, knowing my time would come. I catch Sunny at the line at the end of the 1st lap. She takes the prime but I take the lead – it wasn’t worth putting out an effort to burn a match when I had bigger things in mind. Like the big step of the 1st place podium spot. I take the lead and don’t look back.

Sunny chases

Sunny is chasing hard but I focus on my own race and my near 30 second lead, until I get so confident I realize that I am about to win a bike race and I focus too hard. I know all I have to be is smooth, so I do the equivalent of waxing the day you need to show up in your bikini. You think you will be smooth but you will be red, blotchy, irritated, and just terrible. I stare into a loose corner and tell myself I will crash if I don’t let go of my brakes. So, I don’t let go of my brakes and I crash. I just slid out and hopped off, but I had to run up the next hill because of the gear I was in. Sunny closes the gap and I am caught. Each time I get a little lead I bobble again. The next big bobble comes at the stairs as we approach the finish. I go to block her, thinking she is coming up on the inside and I hit a bump and end up riding my stem into the stairs. An impressive though not smooth dismount later keeps me in the running but I had unplugged a Di2 wire in the process. Shit. Shit shit shit. Which one was it? Can I shift? I find that I can. I think it was the front shifter but I didn’t need to shift that. No harm no foul. But I lost a split second just thinking of that. I was in the lead. I pass the pits and climb the hill to the finish straight. I know Sunny is back there. What do I do? I make THE mistake. I look back, sitting up a little wondering how to sprint. I should have kept pedaling. She closes the small gap and sits on my wheel. It is done. She comes around and outsprints me for the win. I overthought it at every turn. Making me crash. Making me bobble. Making me sit up. Making me not sprint to the level I know I can.

I should have won that race. Sunny raced better than I did, was smoother, I know I know. I know I can write this seemingly ungracious thing here because I know Sunny and we talked it out, but DAMMIT THAT RACE WAS MINE!!!

All love with fellow racers when the race is over

Fear not, my friends. This was Saturday and there was a whole new race to be won on Sunday. And win it I shall. I was feeling fresh and optimistic on Sunday. The course was reversed with a few alterations. A few roots were tricky, but I was ready for them.

Let us ride.

Get away!!

My start was better, Sunny’s wasn’t as good. Maybe it is because the prime was moved to lap 3, maybe she was feeling yesterday. Maybe everyone else’s was just better? She was in the lead but took an early slide-out that set her back. MUAHAHAHA VICTORY SHALL BE MINE! I was on the front from then on and didn’t look back. Arley was on my wheel up until that lap 3 prime, which I took then found myself with a good gap. I kept my head down and kept up a smooth and fast race. Everything was going flawlessly until the 2nd half of the 4th lap, and I flat. Rear wheel was completely flat, I must have hit a rough patch of pavement too hard, I know right where it happened. I was hopping roots through turns quite elegantly, but there was a section of abandoned pavement that was too long to hop and it was sort of a pick-your-way-gingerly type of thing. Well. I must have gone full Pumpkin Spice and hit the rear wheel.

You can’t see, but, my tire is flat here.

The announcers didn’t see the flat and said Sunny closed the gap. She caught me by the time I hit the pits. I rode that flat well, but I lost 16 seconds in that over quarter lap because of it. I pitted. Sunny got up to 20 seconds or so on me, and I saw my win go out the window, and I was just chasing the oblivion trying to keep the gap under 30 seconds for the win. Then, somehow, she was so close. SO CLOSE people were telling me 3seconds. I WAS GOING TO WIN A BIKE RACE! I was so excited I hopped off my bike and threw it to the ground (I slid out in loose downhill corner before the stairs. Same problem as the day before. Old habits die hard). Okay, so the win was gone after that. But, I still had second and the series. Until I stood up and realized my boas on my left shoe were completely open, shoe was falling off and I had banged my rear derailleur and sent it into crash mode. I was stuck in my 11 tooth cog. I had to run up a slight hill because I couldn’t push the gear. I had to stop because my shoe was coming off. I bent over to tighten my boa and wouldn’t you know if I didn’t get passed. Crap. 3rd place. I realize I can still shift my front chainrings so I shift down into the little ring but I am still in my 11. Good thing I have been practicing for being overgeared my WHOLE FREAKING CAREER and was able to keep 3rd against a charging Arley. And. As soon as I cross the line. I hear it. I have kept the series win by 4 seconds. $1000 by 4 seconds.

Where there once was a gap, there became none

What is weird about this weekend, is I broke 2 hair ties on Saturday and 1 on Sunday (for those not in the know, it is bad luck to break a hair tie. Duh). I raced in my warm-up shoes. I usually wear and older version of the Shimano shoes that fit tighter and only have 1 boa. Maybe they would not have come undone, or as loose, had I raced in them. I also forgot my cycling computer so warmed up and raced with no data. No power, heart rate, or even a timer to time my warm up efforts. I sort of liked the freedom, but not the lack of knowing what time it was, ever. The mojo was different. Plus, the weight of the #1 pinned to me is crushing. It is the curse of the rainbow stripes for the mortal.

Numerical ordering, please

Would I trade the series win for a top step of the podium? Not sure. Keeping the series shows how consistent I am, but I still really really want to win a race. Wanting it so badly is what is keeping me from actually getting it! I was pushing the pace the whole race, both physically and technically. I was riding the edge of my comfort zones, dipping to the other side maybe a few times too many. I feel like I have ripped out my heart and put it on display – I wanted it so badly. I proved I could do it but at the same time I self-sabotaged. This weekend was a high-speed rail car that jumped the tracks and exploded into a million pieces. Or that is how I feel.

I am happy with the series win and reflecting back, it is awesome to keep hearing from all of the spectators what a show Sunny and I put on. So really, we did our jobs. I did my job. Sometimes a loss in a hard-fought battle is more noble than a win that is taken so easily (cough cough Kerry). The fitness is coming around. The confidence is high. The handling is every improving. The pieces are coming together. The podiums will continue, the wins will come, and the spectators will be forever impressed by the performances us women put on out there.

10/10 would recommend this event to anyone in the future. (or the past, I guess). Such a blast, good people, good course, great racing.

Thanks to everyone out there for the cheers (for everyone) and motivation. Thanks to Kona, Maxxis, Shimano, all of the other sponsors, and my teammate Kerry and FIL Kermy. Thanks to all of our mechanics. I know you all love me for me, but one day you will get to say I am funny and fast without falling down. (As opposed to fast with falling down).

Stay tuned, the next weekends include Cinci, Pan Ams, NoHo, and Supercross.

1 comment

Leave a Reply to Sunny Gilbert Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *