We headed back to our hotel, the Best Western, thank you to Redline my sponsor for setting us up in such a great place and making is so easy to just have to focus on my race!!
We got up around 7am on Saturday. Got some breakfast and chilled for a bit in the hotel and then headed out for coffee and off to the course. I was cold, about 28 degrees, around 9am. They started racing at 8am, I couldn’t believe how cold it was. Everyone I talked to that raced in the early races said they couldn’t feel their hands and feet for most of the race.
Chad raced at 12:30 and my race was at 1:45p. Right before Chad started the sun came out and it was beautiful. It warmed up to probably around 45 degrees. Earlier in the morning there was a lot of fog, so that made the course actually pretty muddy. It was very heavy and think mud so I thought I would have to pit every lap. Chad got a call up literally on the last lap out of 114 guys so it was going to be tough for him to move up. But Chad is so great on his bike and can out handle most guys and managed to move up and finish 20th. That is so awesome, for those that race cross you understand how hard it is to move up in a field like that. You waste so much energy passing people the first couple laps, it really is hard to do what Chad did. Very nice work Chad!!
Next it was my turn. We had about 40 women I think on our start line. And I also got a not so good call up position, in the 4th row out of 5 so I knew this one for me was all about the start to try to get up with the big girls. I actually got a good start, found my pedal right away and managed to move up a bit on the long pavement section. We hit the grass and for some reason everyone went more to the right side and I shot up the left and passed a whole bunch of girls. We went right into this left hand turn that had a lot of mud ruts in it and someone crashed of course and we were all at a stand still. The first 10-12 girls missed it and were gone, and we were all left to fend for ourselves.
I didn’t actually crash, which was good, but I had to put my foot down and get off and run around everyone that did. I got back on, and I have to say that Ann Knapp is about the best person I know. We are all trying to get back on our bikes and get going again and I hear from behind, "come on Kristi get up there" or something close like that from Ann. Ann is encouraging me while she is trying to also get back on the bike and get going. Like I had said in previous posting, Ann is truly one of my very favorite bike racers and friends. She has always been my idol and I have been racing with her for a long time, she is just so damn awesome. Anyways how cool to be encouraged back into the race from a fellow competitor while racing. Thank you Ann!! That really made my day and helped me get some energy to get going again.
So I got back on it, we were in the faster flatter section of the course. So it took some work to get back up to speed. I was sitting probably around 25th or so after the crash. I managed to get a couple girls right away and then I fell into no mans land for awhile. I was alone and there was a group of about 5 girls only about 5-10 sec ahead of me but I could not bridge it. I tried so hard but couldn’t. So we went into the more technical sections of the course and I started bringing that group back in. A couple girls fell off and I was able to get them. I was moving up through the field and was feeling like I was getting faster and smoother with each lap. So I just put my head down and tried to give it everything I had to see how far I could move up.
The great part was that the course had dried up so much there was very little to no mud really. Just a couple sections total for the whole course. So I didn’t have to pit my bike once, amazing for Portland. Thanks to Tim and Joe from Redline who had all 3 of my bikes speced out with carbon wheels and tires ready for me in the pits. How spoiled am I, 3 bikes, so awesome!!
So with one lap to go I was sitting in 17th place. I managed to get another girl and move into 16th. When I got back into a group of 2 girls, I passed one of them with a pretty good attack and thought I had dropped her, but she got back on my wheel and managed to pass me back. I tried so hard to stay with her but I had burnt my match at that point and didn’t have to much left in the tank. So I held onto 16th place at the finish. Overall I was very happy with my race considering the crash at the start. I really felt like I rode well and everything went great after the crash.
So overall I was pretty happy, of course you always want a better result in such a great field of women, but these are the best girls in the country. So it is hard, and everything has to go pretty much perfect in order to be up there in the rankings. I felt strong and my legs were good, so that is great. And I am not burned out at all at this point and can’t wait for Nationals!! So far my training has been perfect, my coach is the best! (That would be me!)
So I am sitting here in the hotel, it is early Sunday morning and I was awoken by high winds outside. They are forecasting 30mile gusts today with a high of 30 degrees. I made the decision yesterday that if it was really windy and cold I was going to sit today out, so that I didn’t destroy my body before Nats. I race on Fri and I don’t want to ruin myself and not be able to recover both physically and mentally before then. As a coach everyone is asking me if they should race both days here with Nats next weekend. I am really torn on the right answer. Since a lot of people race Thur or Fri next week, racing both days could take to much out of you and you may not feel recovered before the next race. For those that race Sat or Sun only next week then I think both are fine as long as it isn’t just nasty conditions. You really want to leave on a good note going into Nats so you are fresh minded, our mind is really our biggest hurdle so leaving it happy and with a good memory before your biggest race is the best idea.
So I will see what it is like in a few hours, but right now I am thinking I am not racing today. I normally don’t miss any races because of weather because that is one thing I like about cross, but I want to win my master cat so bad and have been training all year for that race on Friday that I need to make that a priority and do the right thing!!
So I will keep everyone posted on what I decide, one good thing if I don’t race, I can scope out my competition and see how they ride and race to get some idea of what I need to do to win!!