Gayle took 1st place this weekend at one of Boulder’s biggest cyclocross races, but not after getting a face full of sand….and getting it caught on camera. Read more or just laugh at the picture instead.
If a picture is worth a thousand words this picture writes the race report for me…
This will be my first real season of racing cross after a few races on a borrowed bike last year. My season started this weekend at the US Open of Cyclocross at the Boulder Reservoir. I was nervous for the race after a week of traveling for work (read: not enough sleep/exercise and too much free breakfast buffet). I made my way up to Boulder on Friday to pre-ride the course (in the snow) and was disappointed to see that they hadn’t marked the course yet and since it is a very “taped” out course, it was impossible to get any real idea of what the course would be. I was able to tell that there would be a lot of dirt! I rode around in the snow for a while and made the journey back down to Aurora – after a pit stop for some warmer gloves
Saturday was an early morning. The SW4 race was at 7:32 so I was out the door by5:15 to get up there. I threw every layer of clothes in a bag and just hoped it would warm up. I appreciate that cross is an all-weather event, but I just wasn’t ready for sub-freezing temps in the beginning of September. It was 32 degrees when I pulled in the parking lot…ouch. I layered up and rode the course twice. Not the warm-up I would have like, but I got to ride the course and see where some of the muddy, sandy, challenging spots were. I was glad to see a few other SW3 and SW4 Naked racers there that morning. There’s something to be said for pain in numbers.
As the SW4 race started I tried to get to the front as soon as possible. The two Junior racers started with us and they were the first off the pack. Those girls were fast – I have total respect for their ability at their age. Part way through the first lap I passed two racers and it dawned on me that the juniors were in a different category so I was winning the SW4 race. I tried to keep a steady pace and be cautious in some of the sandy areas. I realized which spots it was faster for me to put a foot down or hop off and run and I sucked it up on the totally bumpy dirt, grassy areas that jostled you to the core. On the third lap I was pumped to still be in the lead, I got to the drop-off spot that was a challenge the first few times. First lap I felt like I got whiplash I landed so hard, second lap was good, third time…not so much. I “guess” I was a bit too far over the bars and in a flash I was flying over the handlebars, face down in the sand. I totally knocked the wind out of myself and it took a few seconds to get up. I stood up, took a few big breaths to re-inflate my lungs and spit out some dirt. A few steps to make sure I was basically ok, put the chain back on my bike and took off the best I could. A few people were pretty close behind me at that point, but I knew if I pushed I could hold them off. In the process of falling I must have smashed my handlebars into the meaty part above my knee-cap which made it hard to push hard, but generally I was ok – except for the massive quantities of dirt covering my entire body. I think I spit out dirt the entire last lap and still had dirt up my nose when I finished the race.
The whole wipeout happened to take place directly in front of two photographers and a medic. Good crowd for a crash! I bet John Flora stayed in that spot all day getting “money shots” of people in mid-crash. I saw he had a bunch of other crash photos later, but I also noticed that over the course of the day the ledge that was there in the morning smoothed out a bit and wasn’t as harsh of a drop-off. Goes to show how much a course changes over the length of a day of racing.
After a post-race stop at the medics (they waived me down asking to check me out) and a trip to the top of the podium I stole an ice-pack from my kid’s diaper bag and made that journey back to Aurora again. I was glad to just be in some pain and not actually hurt and anxious for the photos I knew would emerge in a few hours. After posting my epic face plant pic to the world of facebook lots of great comments followed. My favorite was a post on the photographer’s page from a woman I didn’t even know and it just said “Bless her heart”. Too Funny!
This was definitely an exciting way to start off the cross season. Although I’m hoping to not have this much excitement in future races I am hoping for a great season and possibly another trip onto the podium.