You might think that after four years of racing cyclocross, I would have my shit dialed. That is not the case. Every year, my routine gets "refined," and by "refined" I mean warped around everything else that changes year-to-year. Last year I learned how to prep for the 3pm race when your girlfriend is racing the 2pm race; this year I'm learning how to prep for the 3pm race when your team is racing the 12:30 and 2pm race and you would rather cheer and socialize with 800 different people than warm up.
Not to foreshadow, or anything.
Since I bonked my face off on Day 1, the one thing I got right was adequate food consumption on Day 2. I did this while watching Beta Ryan murder the Cat 3 field. Again. It was awesome.
Then I went to preride a lap and made the mistake of expecting a SRAM shifter to shift gears. Instead of the paddle snapped off, which makes total sense since I did crash on it that one time, and there's no reason to expect a cyclocross product to withstand any kind of crash.
We snap shifters like it's our job, so Linnea had her extra Rival levers over to neutral support in no time flat, and the Mavic dudes were like "hell yeah we'll strip your bar, swap shifters, and recable everything in 45 minutes, and no you can't give us a beer in thanks."
I like Mavic dudes much more than SRAM components right now.
Meanwhile! One of the better women's cyclocross races of all time went down, with Sally and SBZ representing THE TEAM in the 5-rider elite group for 40 minutes straight. Linnea conveniently hung out 30 seconds behind the group, which meant I could pit for Sally and Linnea at the same time.
So I ran around the pit for 40 minutes with two bikes, then watched SBZ snag 2nd, and then realized that I had to do a bike race in 15 minutes.
Me and my resurrected bicycle took an awesome five-minute ride on the trainer and headed to the start. We started. I had a typical near-death start experience where a chain reaction of lane changes puts some dudes hip straight into your bars and sends you screaming into traffic. To quote myself: "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah"
But part of having a UCI license is not freaking out physically (verbally is still ok, luckily) so we kept it upright and I went back to sprinting. Sprinting really, really hard. Somehow I was back into the top-25 on the pavement and rolling past Jonny Sundt and Cary when I overheard this:
Jonny, to Cary: "Dude, you're going too hard."
Since I was currently passing them it was safe to say that I was also going too hard. With no warmup. I AM SO GOOD AT CYCLOCROSS! THIS IS TOTALLY GONNA WORK!
...for 30 more seconds. Suddenly I didn't feel good, couldn't hold a wheel, and the entire race passed me during lap two. It got to the point where I was sure I had a flat tire and I was swinging off the racing line, waving people by.
I got pretty close to dropping out, but I have actually learned a thing or two over these years -- five minutes after dropping out, you will start regretting dropping out. Unless your leg was just almost amputated by a chainring. Then you can be happy you dropped out.
And sure enough, after thirty minutes of rolling around thinking about how much I sucked (and everyone else sucked, and Northampton sucked, bike racing sucks, my fitness sucks, my position sucks, my tire selections sucks), a switch flipped and suddenly I was okay with life again. So I started riding hard, now that it was way too late to matter.
I rode so hard that I actually made up a tiny bit of ground on THE WILCOX for a few laps. I was GAINING on the Wilcox/Sweeney group and I was doing it without any help! This is unprecedented!
Of course they were a minute ahead of me, but whatever, I totally took 2 seconds outta their lead in two laps.
While I was clawing my way out of the grave the race started ending. How unfortunate. I managed to get through an impressive cast of characters in the closing laps though -- but it would be tacky to list them, right? The only one who stuck around was John Burns, because he'd rather be doing a six-hour mtb race or something (and beating me by half an hour in the process). I gapped Burns with two to go, only to drop my chain shifting for the ride up (don't start with me, Matt Roy)!
He passed me back and it was ON. I trailed until we got the bell and then attacked before the ride up. Shifting was clearly not worth the risk so I rode it in the big ring, which turned out to be surprisingly easy. Should've been doing that all along.
I finally dispatched Burns with this move, drooled on myself a bit, caught Mike Wissell, and caught a TOTALLY BLOWN Corey Collier to somehow make three places on the last lap. I even ended up close enough to John Hansen on the pavement to launch my patented totally-pointless-and-painful-sprint-just-to-keep-him-honest. John was honest and held me off by 1 second.
So... if you took the first half of my Day 1 race, and the second half of my Day 2 race, I'd have a totally solid sixty minutes of racing.
AND THAT DOESN'T MEAN ANYTHING! DAMMIT!