28 April 2011 | Race Reports
World Cup #1- South Africa Race Report
Well, THAT didn’t go as planned.
After feeling good and riding well at Sea Otter, I was pretty excited (ok, and a little nervous too…) about racing the first World Cup. Even though we arrived a few days before the race time seemed to fly by, and before I knew it it was race day, and I was sitting on the trainer warming up.
I had a great start spot- right on the front row. When the gun went off I had a good jump, but my legs immediately loaded up, and I just watched as the front of the race rode away. I was probably in the 30s by the first corner- stuck back with all the riff-raff who can’t ride around a switchback and like to yell at each other a lot. We slowly pushed our bikes up the first section of singletrack as the leaders continued to ride away at the front. Eventual race winner Ren Chengyuan was back there with me, and when we finally got out onto the fire road I tried to get on her wheel, but my legs had other plans. Plans to ride very slowly, apparently…
On top of feeling terrible, I was riding like a total ninny. I could not get out of my own way. It was one of those days where you feel like you are riding someone else’s bike and your reaction time is about 2 seconds too slow. I somehow managed to move up a few spots and catch onto the back of a big group of about 8-10 riders. As we headed into the long rock garden I thought, “There’s no way EVERYONE in this group is going to clear this; I’ll take the chicken line and pass at least a couple of them.” As I came out at the bottom I saw that indeed, EVERYONE had cleared it AND put 5 seconds into me. I chased back on and came into the next short rock section right behind Rosara. She dabbed, we both had to get off, and I could see Katie and a couple other ride by on the B-line. Arrrgh! “OK, if I’m behind someone in the small rock section, do the B-line,” I told myself. We continued around the course, but with my crappy legs it was tough to make up any time on the short sections of fire road. The next time through the long rock garden I once again opted for the B-line and once again found myself gapped off the group. “Allright, FINE, clearly that way is faster.” Then, the second time through the small rock garden, I was once again on someone’s wheel, so I went for the B-line and of course a couple people cleared the rocks and passed me. “Really? Is this how it’s going to be? EVERY choice I make is going to suck?”
At this point I was riding with Emily and we were chasing up to the next group. I followed her down the long rock garden, and (OF COURSE) she dabbed and had to get off. I had to get off too, and we ran the last part of the section and jumped back on our bikes. I started pedaling only to find that I had dropped my chain. (Not really surprised by that at this point.) Emily rode away as I jumped off and put my chain back on (a simple task that somehow took me several long seconds). Chasing again. As I rode along one of the fire road sections, I decided I needed a kick in the pants and thought it would be a good idea to use my “just-in-case double caffeine gel,” but as I pulled it out of my pocket I promptly dropped it on the ground. Ha! Take that, Self! No caffeine for you! It was almost comical.
I continued to hope that my legs would start feeling better, but they felt pretty awful the whole time. For the next 2 laps I was riding about 10 seconds behind Emily, but I had pulled my head out of my ass and was riding a little more smoothly and not like such a hack. I rolled through the finish in 18th place. Pretty disappointing when your goal going into the race is a spot on the podium. At least I had a sucky result and felt bad- it would be worse if I had great legs and finished 18th. But to squander my front row start spot, that really sucks.
In retrospect, I think I just didn’t ride enough after all the travel (nearly 48 hours worth) to get all the junk out of my legs. I’m chalking this one up to experience: next time I’m arriving at least a week early and having plenty of time to ride. But it’s frustrating and disappointing to fly all the way around the world and suck.