This past weekend saw my ladyfriend (Pete) and I flying down to the San Francisco bay area for the final 2 races of the USGP of cyclocross!
It is Monday around noon and we are sitting in the Oakland Airport waiting for our flight home. It is funny jet setting around like this. Answering sponsorship phone calls in the airport bathroom, drinking mediocre espresso, running around with a timeline, gotta make the flight!
I dropped my bikes off at Wrench Science in Emeryville after waking up at Dan and Sid’s house in Oakland. (HUGE thanks to Dennis at Wrench Science for opening the doors at the ass crack of dawn. I really, really appreciate the favor!) That has been a real fiscal and logistical hurdle, packing and shipping the bikes. Stressing out about them getting there on time and getting there in one piece. It is expensive! So, I am just sending them right over to Providence, RI seeing that I have 4 races left and they are all in New England.
We flew out of Portland really early last Friday morning and got to Oakland at like 9 am. After finding some espresso, picking up the bikes at Velo Sport in Berkeley and, finding snacks I decided to go down to Santa Cruz and spend the night there, the race on Saturday was in Watsonville which is like 20 minutes SE of Santa Cruz. It just made sense. I lived in Santa Cruz in 1995 for about a year before moving up to San Francisco. I used to work at the Santa Cruz Beach boardwalk. The weather was amazing. It was atypically warm, just about 80 degrees all weekend! The drive from SF the SC was beautiful. The ocean on the west the entire way down, Pete has not ever been to SC or much of the Bay Area and I consider it home so it was fun to point out all of the houses I have done it in.
Santa Cruz was nostalgic. Not in an “I miss it” way but, “I’m glad I don’t live here anymore” way. Dude. Yeah, dude is a fair way to describe SC. Dude.
We made our way to the boardwalk, walked around and I pointed out all the spots I have worked at. Then we played a mean game of airhockey. The entire time I lived in SC I never went mini-golfing so, we did. It kinda ruled. (NOT that golfing rules, I’ll get around to that in a second. But yes, mini golfing is fun.) Pete spanked me at airhockey, I spanked her at pinball and she took me to school on the putting green. I had a really good time. It took my mind off the racing and the shop, I felt relaxed for the first time in a long, long time. (maybe there is something to this golfing thing…)
We got some dinner at the Saturn Cafe and then dropped the bikes off at a sketchy motel in the flats. We decided to try and sneak into the new Harry Potter movie on opening night. dude. The movie was sold out and there was no hope of seeing it so, we just wandered around Pacific ave. and then back to the hotel where I watched parts of the Matrix and some professional boxing before dozing off. Ok, I confess, I like to watch the boxing when I travel. The match was really interesting. It was NOT this heavyweight slug fest or anything but a match with a really professional and consistent boxer (with an undefeated record) and a kinda hectic up and coming challenger. The challenger was all over the place, wasting energy and constantly adjusting up his shorts and tripping and fumbling over himself. It was almost embarrasing to watch. And I thought about how he must have trained and trained for this bout, that boxing and training was his life and you could just see himself getting mad at himself. Like shaking his head just saying “shit man, I am screwing up SO bad.” And, the other boxer was just this solid consistent force in the ring. Really professional, really clean, not screwing up at all or giving anything away. Not wasting any energy or time. It made me think about my cornering. (more on that later).
We headed out the the Watsonville race and the weather was HOT! It was like 70 degrees in the morning and by the time we got to the venue it was baking! Watsonville is a little more inland than SC and is dry and hot. Once I got there and signed in I went to say hi to Christina at Crank Brothers, Jesse, Patrick and Ming at Ritchey and Shiela of Shiela Moon design. Those folks have all given me a ton of support this year and I wished I had tons of goodies to shower them with. The racing was underway and I was just trying to stay hydrated and out of the sweltering sun. I took off to preride the course and it was a pretty short, dusty, mountain bikey, rutted, gravely, fast course design with two big run ups. It was a lot like Steilacom park in Tacoma. (for those of you who are familiar with it.) I always practice riding everything I can so, I found that you could ride the long run up with out too much trouble. And then I followed another rider around and found a good line to ride the smaller run up. But, I’ll admit, I felt like an asshole all over the course. I felt like I could not ride as fast as I would like to in the hard, dusty conditions. I was just not riding good lines and felt like I’d make up most of my time on the road sections. Chris Horner was there in his UCI cross debut, I made a mental note to NOT follow his wheel. We both got crappy positions at the start and I ended up getting stuck behind him in the chaos of the first lap. Of course, he stuffs it on the first off-camber section we hit but, I got around him ok. I did get to ride over someones bike, that was fun. I cannot stress how hot it was. My throat was burning and I had taped a water bottle to my spare bike in the pit where Partick from Ritchey was working it for me and Jesse. I was having bike trouble and when I had done a few laps and saw 7 to go I knew I wanted that water sooner than later. Of course, first thing I do after swapping bikes is hop the barriers and bounce the bottle out of my skinsuit pocket. HA! I wanted to drop out so badly, I felt crappy and the heat was taking its toll. I could not really tell if I was in or out of the top 20 but I knew I just had to finish. The race seemed so, so long. To the point: Barry ends up catching me in literally the final few hundred meters. I got lapped. I was so pissed. Really mad at myself, bummed that I would not get any points, bummed that I was not riding faster. (note: I never actually checked the results, I think I was 17th or 18th. apparently Barry was putting in killer lap times, like 6 minutes or something. It was a full minute or two before the 2nd placed rider came rolling in. Also, Barry finished the race in 1:06. Typically cross races are run so the winner finishes in just under and hour and the last riders finish in just over an hour. They miscalculated and we ended up doing a lap or 2 too many.)
I left mad at myself and looking forward to the race in SF on Sunday. I just wanted to get it over with and go home…
Bridgette and Rhonda had AWESOME races. Eric had a good race too, Shannon dropped out. Bridgett, Dani, Ian, Pete and I went out to Thai food in SC and then drove back to Oakland to sleep at my friend Dan P’s house. Dan is the friend who hung out with Tommy and I at the Sea Otter Classic this year. Dan is also good friends with my Rhode Island pit crew Dan Action.
Um, I’m going to pause this update and resume in a sec, you’ll get to hear all about last Sunday.