Stiggity on the climb

Photo: Bill Draper

Stiggity / 30+ & M123
The hills of Dan Ryan were configured into the best incarnation yet. Ups and downs that were a great test of the skills and the legs. The Grifos were pushed to the limit on just about every corner and just came back howling for more. When those tubies hook into a turn with that velcro feel, you just can’t help but smile. And that course offered smiles by the truckload. A mediocre start left me with some work to do. DaDoubleG called me out, ‘Hey, there’s no eating in cyclocross!” He was right, as I gave up five spots mid-race – just a few seconds fiddling with a stupid gel wrapper and the top ten was adios. I fought back and held out for 14th. Aside from the ridiculous hemorrhaging of positions, finishing lower than your starting position is always a bit of a win. So much fun that I just had to double up and hit the 123 race as well. With no delusions on placing, starting in the very last row was fun. Being a few years since jumping into the 123 race, it’s great to see that field with more than 50 riders multiple weeks in a row.

Photo: Bill Draper

Ol’ Dirty Blickster / W123
Just another Sunday, ridin’ bikes up a dusty toboggan hill. Repeatedly. Dan Ryan Woods is the anomaly in our flatland series and the course didn’t let anyone forget it. Although no one in their right mind would call me a climber, I’ve always liked the challenge of Dan Ryan Woods.

Staged 20th, I took a spot on the edge of the grid with the hope moving quickly up the side. That low branch in the woods after the start was face-level for tall people and I didn’t have a spare face in the pit, so I needed to get ahead of traffic. Sure enough, space opened on the side and I shot to second wheel, holding it through the first major climb. Post-race chatter confirmed I played it well: the field stopped at the first turn and gals had to run that climb.

After that it was a slow crawl backward, with a stronger second lap than the last few weeks but settling in by the third. Holly Klug and wonder-junior Arianna Schafer had me beat on the climbs but I’d reel them in on the straights, while Rachel Gatto’s bunny hopping skills helped her inch closer and closer. In the end, it paid to be strongest in the climbs. Holly and Ari gapped me on the last lap of hills and I rounded the final corner with Rachel half a wheel behind, sprinting ahead for 15th and coughing up dust for day.

J-Rad / Singlespeed & Mens 3
We’re going to have to chalk up this week as a learning experience. I began the day lining up in the singlespeed race, and was fairly optimistic with the modest field size of 24 riders. Without time for a pre-ride, along with concern that my gearing was a bit too high for the hilly course in front of us, there was plenty of added stress and discomfort while waiting for the starting whistle to blow. Once it did, my race ended just a few minutes thereafter. A rider skidding in front of me, overly forceful squeezing of my brakes, and the ensuing tumble of myself and the rider behind me resulted in a broken brake lever, and my first DNF ever.

Relatively unscathed, with the exception of my pride and the broken lever, I lined up for the Mens Cat 3 race a couple hours later. The course itself was a brutal slog with several trips up the hill on the south end, and sweeping descents en route back north to the more technical, barrier filled front side. All in all, my second race of the day was relatively uneventful. But, therein lies my problem for the day. Whether it was the early morning crash, or a general sheepishness in the saddle, I was way too tentative for the entirety of the race. A bit too much braking here and there, and not enough chances taken when opportunities arose made for a mediocre performance at best. Thankfully the season is still early, and I must now remind myself week in and week out to shake off any previous mistakes, focus on the course at hand, and stop riding like a bag of anvils.

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