Day one. To make Alix's 9:30 start, we awoke to a pitch black morning. Four AM to be precise. I think I've been up that late about the same number of times I've woken up that early. Neither situation seems to be a good idea. Luckily, Alix was ready to rock. Annabelle and I, on the other hand, continued our beauty sleep. We awoke about 45 minutes out. Time to fuel up the baby. Options were slim, so we introduced Annabelle to Burger King French Toast Sticks. She found them curious at first. After a through inspection, she warmed up to the fried wonder and promptly devoured the pack. Yummy.
At this point, the sun was about and my 4am grumpiness was thawing. The race organizers did a stellar job with signage, so we made it to the scene with enough time for Alix to register. Pshew, I still feel bad about green mountain where I got us off track and blew Alix's start time. We lucked into a sweet parking spot about 10 cars back from the staging area. Things looked good. I opened - and promtpy shut - the car door. Brrrrrr. The cross races I tried back in North Carolina spoiled me. Reminding myself this is what cross is supposed to be like I donned a couple extra layers. Annabelle didn't seem as phased by the cold weather. She's a real trooper.
Nothing too exciting to report racing-wise day one. All Flying Penguins finished in typical penguin style. Raina and George led the way with 15th and 25th place finishes. George and Eric sounded like they had a fun time with a rider in their group who hammered ahead in the straight aways only to cause small traffic jams once they got back into the more technical sections. John was in there too mixing it up. Good times.
Day two. Another brisk morning. Raina really laid down the hammer. She looked smooth and came in sixth! It was Amber's debut. She put in a good effort at the start and everytime she came by she was smiling. That was awesome. Alix also was sporting some smiles. Eric kindly loaned her his sweet ride. She happily tossed her mountain bike aside and didn't look back.
Getting ready for our race, George hooked me up with a chocolate Gu. mmm... well "mmm" enough to get down at least. I took my usual start position at the back of the pack. Did I mention the start of both Saturday and Sunday was a bit hectic? The short paved uphill right into a hard left isn't conducive to spreading riders out. Some guys got tangled right in front of Eric, John and I. After a bit of friendly bumping the three of us got around it safely. Sunday's course was more fun. It boasted a sweet log section, a stone-wall that you could ride up and over, and an off-camber approach to an uphill barrier section. After riders started stretching out a bit, I started feeling better. Some credit is due to the Gu (thanks George!), but I also felt more confident on the bike. Day two on the new ride means I have twice the experience. So I should've been about twice as fast right? Clearly math can't always be trusted. That said, however, I was having a good bit of fun. I started braking less in corners and hopefully my sketchiness decreased a bit. I passed a couple riders and didn't feel like I was completely red-lined. On lap two, however, my front tire lost a battle with a rock. Sloppy on my part. I descended too fast and failed to adjust in time. Dropping out crossed my mind, but dropping out is rarely a rewarding experience. So I shouldered the bike and began a lesurely jog. I think I flatted the furthest you could from the pit. Good spot for running practice. I made it to the pit just as the leaders came by. Crap. Lapped halfway through the race! I took off and actually found it quite fun to chase those guys for a bit - they're fast and smooth. The rest of the race wasn't as exciting, but I'm glad I stayed in it.
After finishing, we packed up quick and hit the road. The first of many epic weekends to come. It's fun to be racing again.
Bonus post. We took this weekend off from cross to attend a good friends wedding in Atlanta. While in Atlanta, we brought Annabelle to the aquarium. Her favorite exhibit: the penguins!