After two good weeks of training leading up to DTLA, I unfortunately had two not-so-good — well, to be honest — bad weeks leading up to Griffith Park. Lee Willmore says that “life gets in the way of playing bikes,” and I think that makes enough sense to eliminate the need for a boring explanation of my day-to-day “bike interferences.”
Indeed, for two long weeks I was on my bike for a total of four rides . . . yes, one-two-three-FOUR rides. I was antsy, and going through withdrawals and those four were not quality rides, by any stretch: one interval session, one on the trainer, a hill ride, and a ride on the mountain bike; it’s not a bad week, but it’s definitely not what I want two of my weeks to look like.
I debated a little whether I should race at all at Griffith Park until Dave made it easy when he said he couldn’t race Saturday, which is how the hill ride came to manifest. Dave said during that ride that he wasn’t feeling well, although we still made plans to go together to the race on Sunday. I headed down to Scott and Carolyn’s later in the evening for some good food/good company kind of fun, where the conversation eventually turned toward Griffith Park. We don’t often get to spend time with our CX friends when we’re not at the races, so this was a nice change. I don’t know about everyone else, but I think that the last time I got together with them was at the Reeves House during the summer.
While I was there on Saturday night, Dave sent me a message telling me he was feeling worse than he did during our ride and that he would let me know in the morning whether he was racing. Claire was on her second party, but still had plans to go to the race the next day.
Sunday morning I didn’t hear from Dave, and Claire’s sleep was so good that she didn’t want to get up, so I rolled to Griffith Park solo. I saw Scott who said Carolyn didn’t make it either and he pointed towards where Mark Campaigne was set up, which was the same spot Celo has occupied since we started racing the north side of the Greek.
I was able to ride the course a few times and heard Dave Lawson’s voice as he was telling someone the night before that it was “all up hill.” It was indeed that. The course was very similar to last year and apparently a little different from the day before. I thought I got in a good warm-up on the course, then on the street, then on the course again, before staging. I staged second row for the first time this season, next to Matt McDonald and right behind fellow Celos Mark, Miguel Sutter and Phillip Gray.
Dorothy gave her pre-race instructions and sent us off on the siren. Everyone took off super-fast. I quickly fell all the way to the back and stayed on a wheel.
We climbed and twisted and twisted and climbed until we hit the stairs. I was working pretty hard and passed the guy in front of me at the first set of stairs and he quickly passed me on the next climb. I had a good view of Matt and even Mark and Miguel and Phillip as we wound through the trees and headed toward the sand pit. I had practiced riding the sand pit on my final warm-up lap and had some success so I tried again and was able to ride it.
Through the back section I was still on the same wheel as we went over the barriers and headed to the parking lot with the slippery u-turn just before the start/finish. Scott Reeves passed me somewhere in that back section and as I approached that u-turn I saw Matt on the other side stopped and putting his chain back on. All of a sudden I heard a commotion ahead of me:
“Wow! I can’t believe you kept your bike up!”
Scott Reeves took the u-turn fast and almost slipped out.
“I took that turn very slowly after that first lap”
Scott told me afterwards.
I caught Matt just after the start/finish and put my hand on his back to help him get started again. As he shifted I heard a lot of noise coming from his drive train.
“Your derailer is rubbing on your spokes, you might shift into your wheel!”
“I’ll just race on this gear.”
“Maybe now I’ll have a chance of finishing ahead of you”
Matt had not been so lucky and did crash at the turn, causing his pulley cage to bend towards the spokes and he still pulled away from me on the climb and I was DFL de la course. Then the mind tricks started.
“It’s ok, this is how I was at DTLA and I worked my way up as the race went on.”
That was good.
“I had two good weeks of training leading up to DTLA.”
“I had two bad weeks of training leading up to this race.”
“This won’t be like DTLA.”
I thought about throwing in the proverbial towel and getting into dry clothes and driving home with my tail between my legs until I decided I should treat it like a ride, instead. It seemed like everyone passed me; in fact, I debated whether to tag this as a race report because I did very little actual racing beyond the first lap, or none at all. I got lapped and finished 16th: DFL.
I rested Monday and life continued to get in the way on Tuesday and Dave continued to be sick all the way to Friday. Sometime between those two days I was talking to Claire and I told her I had earned more points this season that I had ever earned racing CX.
Whoa! That’s a good season as far as I’m concerned! Improvement is the key, remember?
I decided to take a deliberate break from the bike and start over again on Saturday, this time for road and mountain biking and half-marathoning. Dave finally felt better and we went for a fun mountain bike ride at Carbon Canyon on Saturday. It was nice and green, with tacky dirt and good climbing.
I posted a picture on Facebook and Scott commented, “It’s still cx season!” Indeed it is, but my training for mountain and road racing (and half-marathoning) has begun!
Hopefully I can manage two incredible weeks of training leading up to the end of the year race, they just won’t be two incredible ‘cross specific weeks, I suppose.