Sienna Lake: Season Killer?

19Nov12

Last Saturday, the clouds finally rolled in and with it came temps in the 30’s, freezing rain, sleet, hail and snow. It was a brutal, brutal day, but it was also looking to be an epic day for a cyclocross race. If I were to finish in the top 3, I could likely take the lead in the Colorado Cross Cup, so I was pumped.

After doing a lap on the course, it became clear that it was going to be a tough one. Lots of grass with winding tight turns, a few off camber sections that were pretty slick, a little pavement and a some monster run up sections. The section of the course that was clearly going to be a decider was the drainage ditch. Just after the start stretch, a long dirt road section led into a sharp turn and then very steep drop in to a mud bogged drainage ditch. Many riders ran down the drop, then either ran or rode the ditch section and then ran/climbed back out of it. It was a knarly section for sure! I figured if I could ride down the drop, ride the ditch and then run out of it, that would be the best tactic.

On the line, it was FREEZING. Since it was raining, I opted or no leg warmers, just Mad Alchemy embrocation on my legs. They were beet red and stinging from the cold. The whistle blew and we were off. I took the hole shot, though Will Iaia came around me just as we got into the course taped single track section. On the long dirt road leading into the drainage ditch, his rear tire was spraying so much muddy water in my face that I could barely see. I stayed on him through the drainage ditch. On the very steep, muddy run up, he dropped me though. I didn’t think I’d need my shoe spikes before the race, which was a HUGE mistake. When I was fumbling in the mud, trying to get a foot hold on the soupy ground, he climbed right up and like that put 15-20 seconds in me. A shame since I was feeling great and confident I could stay with him.

Taking the holeshot off the line:

After that, my teammate Carlos caught up to me and we started a chase. I was in second place now with two chasers with me. On a grassy offcamber section, I slid out since it was covered in freezing hail. I popped up and grabbed onto the group again and was now in 3rd. Shortly after, my teammate Carlos slid out and now I was in 2nd again. With the wet, slick conditions, it was carnage out there. Lots of bobbles and little crashes. Traction was the worst I’ve seen all year.

Feeling strong in the chase:

As I settled into chase Will who had a huge gap on us now, I hit the gas and made it a point to distance myself from the other chasers and try and make it up to Will. As I came down steep hill that dropped into the drainage ditch, I picked up speed way faster than before. I was basically holding on and hoping to come down without going over the bars. I managed to stay upright, but picked up so much speed that by the time I got into the ditch, I was totally out of control. As I was about to hit the other side of the ditch, I put my leg out and pop! I heard my knee make an un settling noise, I then went over the bars, landed on my ass (I think). It was a total yard sale. As the chasers caught me, I didn’t pop up like usual. I was stunned.

Seconds before impact:

As I got up, my leg didn’t feel right, but there wasn’t much pain. I thought about dropping out right there. Instinctively, I knew I was done with a podium shot. I climbed back on my bike, but started having some technical problems. I had knocked my brakes out of whack, so I had to stop and fix them. Now even more people were catching me. By the time I got back on my bike, I was in 9th and my knee was in bad, bad shape.

For the remainder of the cold, brutal race, I basically just rode around gingerly to get a finish.

Freezing my way to the finish:

My knee is now busted up and I went from hopes and dreams of coming on strong late in the season to take the Colorado Cross Cup, so hoping my season isn’t over with a knee injury. Surprisingly, even after the crappy 9th place finish, I was sitting in 3rd overall behind Will Iaia and Colby Pearce in the Colorado Cross Cup still!

A week later, I’m riding, but not racing. I just missed big race weekend with 1 gold level race and one silver, so I just went from a strong 3rd overall in the Cross Cup to 10th. If I don’t start racing again next weekend, any shot of a top 5 will be out of the question.

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