Cycle-Smart International Race Reports

 Day 1

After coming to Northampton for the past six years, I finally got something other than a bone-dry grass crit.  A light rain started around 11 and carried most of the way through the elite women's race.  I'm not gonna call it perfect conditions (it was a little sticky by the end.  wah.)  but it was basically as good as things get for me.  Slippery and fast.

Just like every other cat 2, I drew a crappy start spot, and it didn't really matter as much as I wish it did.  I stood in line on the pro-only section with a bunch of dudes for a bit, and then when it was my turn to run around the tree I fell on my face and made everyone stop.

After that, though, things were very shreddy.  For some reason much of the scrub zone had tunnel vision for the greasy, muddy line through the apex of every corner, which was not at all the fastest way to go around corners.  I definitely set a record for "most people passed on the outside" on lap one.  

Jon Nable took this video of me screwing up but looking awesome which I might have watched at least ten times.

As we settled into the second half of the race I ended up hanging out with official Quebec cyclocross ambassador Jean-Phillipe Thibault-Roberge.  In years past I have clung to him mercilessly like a barnacle, but clearly he has been doing too much school and not enough riding because I was able to take enough pulls to be non-annoying.  Obviously not 50% of the pulls though.  That would be crazy.

After 45 minutes we caught a cracked or demotivated Tom Sampson who wanted to chat up JP about the good ole days of racing Canada Cups.  I recognized that dudes who want to make jokes probably don't want to hurt very much and went to the front and DROPPED TOM SAMPSON.

ahahahah it makes no sense that I typed that and Tom will probably lap me next time we race mountain bikes

But anyway.  Going up the run-up for the last time, it was down to me and JP, and I got a little gap.  "well then," I thought, I'll just attack him a bit herer and take this two second gap out to five seconds, and he'll give up, because that's what I would do."

So I did that.  But three minutes later my legs were full of bees and JP was still dangling two seconds behind me, so this turned out to be a much much more painful way to finish one place ahead of JP than if I had just drafted him for six minutes and then outsprinted him in my traditional cheeseball fashion.

In the process of holding my tiny gap for an entire lap, I did end up turning my fastest lap of the race, so that's good for something.  The downside was that I caught Tim Ratta and Derek Hardinge coming past club row, and could do absolutely nothing when they opened up the sprint 1 second after I got there.  Damn bees.

Day 2

If Day 1 was the muddiest Northampton has ever been, Day 2 was the fastest it's ever been, with the thin layer of mud consolidating and drying into a layer of dirt that was basically pavement on most of the course.

It was also one of those days when things were just working right.  While everyone else was flipping out, I was calmly walking through the first bottleneck.  While other guys were getting caught on the wrong side of gaps, I was going around them just before they blew.  While other dudes were thrashing themselves into headwind trying to make the next group, I was chilling in the draft, saving  matches, and bridging later.

I wish I could pretend this was because I've FIGURED OUT BIKE RACING and wasn't just surfing a wave of luck.  

But basically I spent forty minutes drafting guys who didn't want me to pull (??) and then attacking them to get to the next group when they started slowing down.

This ridiculous peak of this cycle came when I was riding behind Jesse Keough and decided "this isn't fast enough, I think I'll bridge up to Aaron Oakes" and it actually almost worked.

The reason it didn't work is that, right as Sean McCarthy and Mike Busa were drunkenly cheering for me, I crashed on my face on a totally easy corner.

"Well that was a weird, I guess you were just being too aggressive trying to get across the gap" I thought as I rode by the pit.

Then I almost crashed on the next turn, too, because I had a front flat.

Hahahahahaha did I say everything was working right?  Oh, cyclocross.

So then I rode half a lap on a flat front tire, including the pro-only section.  Luckily flat tubulars grip quite nicely, they just don't roll very fast.

Eventually I got to the pit, and while a bunch of dudes had passed me I figured I could still go flog myself for the last 15 minutes and have something to show for it.

However, once I got back out on a pit wheel I felt oddly terrible.  Like I was suffering the same amount, but I just wasn't going very fast.  After a lap I basically gave up and decided that the lactic acid from my legs had pooled in my quads while I was getting a new wheel and I dunno, something something cramps muscles training fueling sad.

I was going to drop out when I realized that every single person behind me had been pulled.

I tooled around for a lap, which included picking up my GoPro (did I mention I broke that off in the crash?) and pulling aside to tell Jeremy Durrin I believed in him, even though I knew Jerome was going to smoke him in the sprint.

It wasn't until I got pulled at one lap to go that I realized the neutral wheel I'd picked up had a nice little hop in it and was rubbing my brakes every revolution.



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