Just a quick post to Czech in (hee hee)! I am in Albstadt, Germany preparing for my second World Cup of the season, and finally have a little down time to recap my FIRST World Cup of the season which was in the Czech Republic. I have been thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to race as a part of the US National team as we work towards earning points for Olympic qualification. Here’s how the race went down.
I had a starting position of 47 out of 90 women. They call you up and put you into a grid basically on the start line. My position was middle/middle which is not ideal as this is typically the slowest part of the pack and also where the most crashes happen. So, my strategy was to get out of there as quickly as possible. I intended to bury myself on the start lap to try and get closer to the front of the race and minimize the passing I would have to do later. I executed my strategy near perfectly and was sitting close to the top 20 when we came through the start finish for the first time. I shifted down to try and push a harder gear and my chain immediately got jammed between my cassette and chain stay. In disbelief, I tried to shift and soft pedal, praying I could coax it back up onto the cog. No luck, it just got stuck deeper. I had not choice but to slam on the brakes, hop off, and try and get the chain unstuck…watching as a steady train of people I had worked so hard to get around went by me. After a few tries I got it un-stuck and back onto the cassette. I hopped back on the bike and went through to finish my start lap…in 44th place. I was frustrated and bitterly disappointed. But, lots of racing left to do so put my head down and hammered. I worked my way back into ~31st and was holding steady there with two laps to go. Then, for whatever reason, I started to get frustrated again reliving the start. I lost my focus and promptly ate shit off a drop. Like hard. I hit the ground superman style and laid there for awhile trying to breath. I rolled over and sat up and saw that the medics were running towards me-stretcher in tow. They took off my helmet and were putting a neck brace on me. As I sat there looking at my helmet, I realized that it was relatively unscathed…which meant that I was relatively unscathed (relatively!). I was sure as hell not going to DNF a race if I could still see straight. So I took the neck brace off, hopped on my bike with a crooked front wheel and handlebars, and finished out my last lap…getting pulled at the bottom. I finished in 40th.
So, with some time to reflect, my takeaways are: FOCUS! The chain jam thing had happened to me before, and there was a workaround that helped prevent it. A workaround that I forgot to mention to our mechanics. Mechanical bike preparation was something I didn’t really focus on and it bit me. Then during the race, my mind started to wander and I immediately lost control. Always focus on the task as hand. Don’t take anything for granted and put as much mental energy into the race as physical. IMPROVEMENT! I had a better finish this year with all my catastrophes compared to last year. I am a better athlete and bike racer than I was last year…and I’m continuing to improve. I feel pretty good about this. MOVE ON! When my chain jammed I became a little baby and felt sorry for myself and that bit of negativity cost me. Next time I will take a deep breath and force myself to move on…which is also what I’m doing with this race in general. I have taken the past few days to a.) get my shifting fixed so no more jamming and b.) to focus on the positives from this race and move onto the next one…which is this weekend!
I’ve been pre-riding the course in Albstadt, Germany and I’m liking it. I’m really looking forward to racing again against the best ~100 mountain bikers in the world on terrain that absolutely challenges me both physically and mentally. I will be focused and confident in my improved abilities and I will move on from one moment to the next!
Oh, and also-while out on an easy spin a few of us found a castle to storm. I F’n LOVE castles. I’d like a t-shirt that says this…