Race Report - Final Tuesday Night Cross Race

4:58 AM

It seems at this time of the year all I am doing is writing race reports – I go through the mountain bike season and the races are all spread out nicely with plenty of time between for training and other parts of my life.  (Really, I know it is strange, but I do more than bike…I like to read, play piano, eat a nutritious meal I cooked for myself, etc.) 

Now it is cross season, the light is fading quickly (I swear in the last week we lost over an hour of daylight), and every time I turn around there is another race.  It helps that most of these races are pretty informal affairs, but still, I’m thinking there may need to be a break in a few weeks.

This past Tuesday was the final weeknight training race of the season, as they just can’t fit them in anymore in the sliver of daylight that is left after we all get off of work.  Originally, I wasn’t going to participate – because of the severe drought we are in these weekly races have turned into Grapes of Wrath style dustbowls that have aggravated my asthma to no end.  But I still needed a good interval workout, and who wants to go out on the road by themselves to get one in?

For a change of pace I decided to jump into the only other race option I have around here – while the men always seem to have ever-increasing categories created for them (the 35+ men who pronate and ride only Campagnolo, for example), the women only ever get the 1-2-3 race.  Last year, however, I discovered I could race down a category with the men, so when the men 4s lined up on Tuesday evening I crept in to the back of the pack.

Turns out, this was a brilliant idea I should have tried weeks ago when the training races started.  I’ve struggled to keep these races as workouts because it is so difficult to not engage in the competition around you, particularly when you are a woman and know all of your competitors.  With the men, on the other hand, there was nothing but the workout.  I was smart enough to go out a slowly to avoid the two things that always happen in the men’s 4 race: the hole shot crash (it involved about 6 riders this week) and the cluster f*#k that happens when about 50 guys hit the first barrier/turn/hill.

After that, it was clear sailing as I finished my interval workout on a great course – finally, in the last week of TNCX they put together an actual CX course with hills, twisty turns, and nice open sections.  And though I hate the word, I do have to say I enjoyed “chick-ing” some guys as they started to flag in the second half of the race.  They always do seem to put up that little extra bit of fight once they look over their shoulder and see a woman coming up on them, which makes it so much more enjoyable when they bite it at the next barrier. 

Overall, though, it was really about getting a quality workout without engaging too much in the competition.  Riding with the men kept me more focused on what I wanted to accomplish with the workout, with the added benefit of having people around to key off of.  It doesn’t take long in the women’s races for things to get spread out, so I suddenly find myself considering the men’s 4s for some of the weekend races.  Why not?  They are earlier (won’t take up my whole day), shorter (a nice, tight 30 minutes rather than 45), and I can actually race in a crowd – definitely something to think about.  

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