Monday, November 21, 2011

2 strikes and then a hit! (my 3-race cross season)

Had baby Ezra at the end of August.  My first time on my bike (spin bike doesn't count) was 5 minutes before my race at the Paradise Cross Frenzy.  Strike #1: Entering the womens open race and placing DFL.  Very humbling but a good reminder that you actually need to ride your bike before racing.  This year's Paradise course was their best yet... its still a roady course but more fun than past years with the swooping turns in the banked "halfpipe", the death spiral, and finally a real run-up (for me at least)

After the race I said "there is NO WAY I'm doing Putney tomorrow"... but a little nagging voice said the only way I was going to get back into the game was to keep racing... so I  went to Putney as a "training race".  After my performance at Paradise I was more than happy to enter the novice race (that was my only option anyway since there was no open or 3/4 race, and I didn't renew my USAC license this year).   Putney is one of my more favorite courses (love the killer run up, bike jumps and sketchy downhill... although hate the cornfield). 

Strike #2: Flatting halfway through the first lap and not having any wheels in the pit  This is my first race ever having a mechanical (thanks to Eric for keeping my ride tuned) so I had become pretty complacent about having wheels in the pit.  (Where was the neutral support this year?  I definitely missed seeing Mark Wysocki and his dog)  After running over to the car and frantically trying to find a wheel (Eric was dealing with crying baby Ezra) Jesse volunteered his spare wheel.  In fear of being lapped by the lead riders I jumped on my bike and took off.  A few minutes later (still on my first lap!) I realized that my replacement rear wheel wasn't pumped up and was bottoming out...  Another stop would put me so far behind I just couldn't muster the enthusiasm to keep going... even as a training ride.

Waffling about racing more I finally succumbed to Alix 's unwavering enthusiasm and went to Velo cross.  After my last 2 performances my goal for the day was to just not strike out.  I had an ok start and knew there were a handful of people behind me.  Over the laps I picked off a bunch more riders so I was feeling pretty good and having fun.  The Velo cx is my new favorite course.  Its like a course with an identity crisis... is it a velodrome race?  or a BMX "pump track" race?  or a mountain bike course? or a good 'ole cx race?  There was no boredom.  This course had it ALL.  All women (novice, master and elite) were lumped into the same race... so I had no clue where I was among the 4's.  When I saw the results I was really disappointed... 3rd from last.  Did I mention disappointed?  But it didn't make sense... it couldn't have been all masters that I passed.  I guess results were a mess because some of the elite riders lapped the novices not just once but 2 or 3 times. After several people protested the officials got everything sorted out.  I had placed 3rd! After getting over feeling a little guilty about podiuming in the novice race just because I didn't want to buy a license for a 3-race season... I'm over it and... Its a hit! No striking out this year.

So my conclusions:.
-- Get on your bike at least once before entering a race
-- Remember your pit wheels
-- Anyone who skipped racing the Velo Cross missed out... BEST. COURSE. EVER.

2011 Season

The Penguins have flown!

Flying Penguins 2011 from alix norris on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Nort-WRECK-hampton Part 2

This is how Penguins fly!

Jesse had an adjective-filled weekend, too. Saturday he had a phenomenal finish.  Sunday he had a bleepin', bleep, de-bleep, bleep wreck that broke bones in his hand.  He wasn't alone.  I could barely take a picture of Jesse during the race without capturing people going down all around him:

Watch out Jesse!

This poor fellah got caught in the tape. Oops.

The precise place Jesse met his demise 2 laps later.

Great season, Jesse - perhaps the FALCON will make an appearance this weekend??? 
Get 'em Jesse!

Now this is determination, folks...

Nort-WRECK-hampton CX Part 1

So there's this little cyclocross event known as Northampton. You know... you and your closest 149 fellow cyclocrossers:

Men's 3s preparing to start

This was the 21st annual Cycle-Smart International and was certainly no disappointment. The crisp, fall weather left an ever-changing course with frosty, slick grass, sticky mud, and heavy sand.  As usual, many of the categories were capped (at 150) and even the Women Amateurs' class had 80-90 women competing, depending on the day.  Woo, that's a lot of elbows to get throw at the start!

Both days, I started close to the back but was fortunate enough to work my way up to my "usual crew," who started about the 4th row. It was super fun to actually be RACING with a group, instead of the typical women's races where it's not much more than an individual time trial.  It was a fast, intense race with just the right mix of technical cornering, balls-to-the-wall descents, train-track jumping (no crashing this time!!), and grueling, leg-, lung-, and head-pounding, out-of-the-saddle sprints from every corner.  Doesn't that just sound like a ball full of FUN?  
The lesser of the challenges...
Oh yay, the hill...
Lead 'em all the way to the finish line... booya!