Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ten Ten Ten

I headed down to Augusta today for the second race in the Georgia Cross Series.  I brought two bikes, my Blue CX6.5 cross bike and my Niner SIR9, which sported the rigid carbon fork and which I had converted to a singlespeed the night before.  That way I could race the Singlespeed and Women's As races, which were scheduled back-to-back.

I'd been at Augusta last year, and this year the course was almost the same.  However, this was the first time I had ever raced a singlespeed for anything, and the Niner was the first time I'd had my own singlespeed mountain bike.  When I was getting ready to build up the bike I had gone over to Shanna's to buy an Endless cog, and we'd had a kind of speculative conversation about what might be a good singlespeed gearing for cyclocross.  I remembered reading something from Thom about how you should pick a gear for cx that is really, really hard, but then Thom is kind of a freak so I didn't want to go overboard.  I'd ended up buying a seventeen, thinking that if it didn't work out it would still be a good gear for XC trails or intown.  Once I got to the venue and rode it around a little bit I knew I should have geared taller.  I was spinning out just getting my equipment over to the Faster Mustache pop-up tent.

I was the only woman in the singlespeed race, and I expected to be pretty far in the back of the pack.  I was losing ground on the flats due to my spinny gear, but kept a decent pace for the first lap.  Early in the second lap I dropped my chain, and was in next to last place.  I decided to try my hardest not to end up dead last.  It turned out I hadn't cranked down hard enough on the EBB bolt after tightening it, and it had slipped some.  It was the first time I'd used the EBB, and hadn't really had any idea how tightly it needed to be set.  Over the course of the race my chain came off four more times.  I still managed to not come in last, and also received a pretty seamless beer-handup in lap 3 thanks to MM.  All in all a fairly successful maiden voyage for the rigid-and-single version of the SIR9.

 In the singlespeed race.  Those GCS barriers are high!  Photo by Trish
There were only 15 minutes between the end of the singlespeed race and the beginning of the women's As.  Just enough time to drink a bunch of water, swap bikes, and head back over to the start line.  The women's category had some really fast and dedicated cross racers, and from the way my legs felt after the first race I knew I was going to be in the back.  I was probably last off the line at the start, and as I lifted my eyes after rounding the first corner saw a dust cloud, crashed rider, and a bike on the ground just in front.  I could see she had crashed super hard on her face, shoulder, and arm, and scarily she was laying there without moving.  The entire women's field stopped within seconds and we stood worried as people aided her.  Amazingly she got up on her own and was helped off the course before the Men's Bs (which go off a minute before Women's As) got around their first lap.  Still everyone was pretty distraught from seeing someone we knew in such a rough crash. 

Thus chastened, we needed to restart the race.  At Trish's wise suggestion we elected to race a shorter duration, and to just do a neutral roll out to the first run-up, then the race would be on.  Luckily this plan was cool with the race organizer and official, as none of us wanted to have to do an official restart with the Men's As later in the day.  The EMTs had come to check her out and as we raced we could see them just off the side of the course. 

The race went fine from my perspective, although it hurt a lot and I had some menstrual cramps going on.  I ended up just out of the money in sixth place.  I hung out to watch the Men's As and then took off back to Asheville.

The whole way back to Asheville I was on the phone with various family.  My cat Molly has been very ill for the past couple weeks and I'd been feeling a burden to try to make her well.  I'd also been wondering how I would know when it was just her time to go.  The late-night singlespeed converting of the Niner was really a product of this distress, since bike work helps me relieve worry.  The Niner had been stripped down to the frame to build up the Kish, and yesterday at 6pm was still just frame, fork, and stem.  The fact that I managed to build up a raceable singlespeed using whatever good-bad-and-ugly parts I could find in my bike room should suggest how very, very upset I have been about this little cat. 

There was a traffic jam on the way home, and when I finally arrived back I could not find her right away.  My dog had been with me in Augusta, and he was pacing around worried.  I finally found my little Molly laying on the acid green NanoPuff pullover I had used every day of the CTR.  When clothing gets to go on a great journey, it comes back indelibly imbued with the real power and magic of the adventure.  Forever after it is special clothing.  Today Molly lay down on this pullover that was full of adventure power, and let go.  Quietly and peacefully, she slipped away.

 In 2005 when I lived in Mountain View CA. 
The traveling menagerie during the move from California back to the East Coast.  Tiko will miss her too.
She was nearly thirteen and was very sick.  She was withdrawn and couldn't keep on weight.  But if you knew even half the journey she'd been on with me, you'd understand.  In her last days I still remembered the hyperactive little black kitten I got in East Cambridge in 1998, when I was overweight, unemployed, and even more of a mess than I am now.  But I knew my time with her was ending soon.  

I know that whenever I wear that pullover I'll see her laid out on it, her black fur set off against the acid green nylon.  Ultra light, but full of warmth.  It's got even more adventure power now.

Some times a race report is really cool and funny. Some times maybe it gives you a vicarious thrill of suffering or victory.  But some times a race report is just a chronicle of someone trying to escape the all-to-real worries and frustrations and responsibilities of grown-up life.  This is an honest race report: today was a rough day.


  1. Sorry for your loss of Molly. At least you were with her.

    Thanks for the cross race report and good decision on Trish's part for a restart.

  2. :( More adventure power indeed. A gift to be treasured.

  3. We remember Molly from her beginning and suffer for your loss.

  4. Thank you Dad and everyone. I really appreciate it.