Between the week that was and the jitters that were, I felt… yeah, rough1. A few exploratory efforts in warmup (I actually do that now, having learned my lesson) produced some very pretty fireflies and the impression that my stomach was being suctioned out of my mouth.
Despite all signs reading “ass-kicking ahead”, my spectacular hubris and I claimed a prime starting spot between two SoCal riders. One of them cleverly requested and was granted a countdown for the purpose of taking off well before the whistle. Slick! So off we went.
|Can you spot the countdown advocate? |
Photo by Larry Wells
The start was a long pavement climb of the variety I could once use to smoke a B’s field like a branded calf. Now it’s me getting scorched: I lasted approximately three seconds before smoldering to midpack, where I remained, achy and irritated and grinding along in pure-sweet-survival mode for the 45 minutes that followed.
I marked the passage of time by the announcer’s progressively more hysterical expressions of awe at Emily Thurston’s lead: “A minute!” “A minute-forty!” “TWO MINUTES! Thurston is putting on a clinic, ladies and gentlemen!” Damn right/HELLA NorCal, I thought, now if she’d only do me the personal favor of lapping my ass before I have to hit that run-up again2 …
Photo by Larry Wells
A few hours later, I'd recovered enough Positive Attitude to register for the men's race in order to score some participation points for the home team. Arena had billed this encore as a lark, but it was obvious from the whistle that she had other, more painful plans3. Any hypothetical interest I had in matching her enthusiasm ended when I hit a feral cat (seriously) and decided I was no longer in any condition to safely handle my bike. Time, clearly, for a retreat to the beer tent.
|While the other girls rode on to more nobly represent women's cycling4,|
I continued only as far as a better vantage point for Josh Snead's thrill of a win5.
Photo by Cycle Masters of Turlock
1. Dustin, dammit, did that photo really need to be taken? Really?
2. I'd written it off— better footing than Watsonville, way shorter than Toro Park. Well, true, but there are other ways to make it hurt.
3. Said whistle was delayed several minutes by yours truly, whose scandalously bare shoulders in a borrowed Sheila Moon halter-top (hawtt) apparently violated the USA Cycling dress code. Oops?
4. Also to represent why I will not be racing mountain this summer: I'm good for an hour; they looked fresh as daises.
5. Thanks to Cyclocross Magazine for indulging my dormant byline fantasies—and to Lee, of course, for actually paying attention all day.