Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A dream comes true...

CX Nats Race Report— Elite Women’s race

Callie McDowell

This weekend I found the phrase “dream come true” on my lips at least once an hour. There was so much to psyched about: phenomenal weather (sorry Cali girls but that was a veritable heatwave for New England), fast course conditions, an encouraging pre-ride session on Saturday, and of course, the company of the circuit’s finest ladies of our team Velo Bella-Kona! It should be said that last year— my first year ever racing ‘cross— that I had admired our pink, blue, black, and –boa’ed flag from afar, but let me tell you, it has been 10x more fun flying the colors myself and getting to race with such a wonderful crew with the support of so many fabulous sponsors.

Race day on Sunday unfolded for me without much fanfare or nervousness. My difficulties were in conveying to what extent the whole experience was a little surreal for me. My first season racing in the elite category has been a mixed bag of results but an absolute blast. Truthfully, I’m still shocked my license is green every time I pull it out of my wallet. Among so many other aspects, just my upgrade has been a goal and dream come true.

Inside of 2 hours to the race, my pulse picked up bit. But the course was fast and so much like my favorite mountain bike trail “Chutes and Ladders” in some places that I couldn’t help smiling to myself thinking of how awesome the race itself would be. Warming up in a humming line of trainers with Dee-Dee, Anna, Erin, and Melanie, I was again overwhelmed by gratitude for my good fortune in finding such a talented and positive squad of women with whom to race. Right on!

Cut to the race as my teammates were off like shots from their hard earned staging positions in the rows nearer the start. More gushing and appreciation: In the elite field I’ve found you need not harbor much concern that the girl in front of you will bumble with her pedals. The start went smoothly and was uphill— just my style. Soon my legs were singing with the pleasurably pain of digging it in and seeing girls recede in my peripheral vision. Unfortunately, a quick bout of nerves prevailed and I let up off the gas for the transition from pavement to grass as I had a flashback to a previous race where with well-meaning, targeted aggression I had hit the terrain change with such force that my race ended then and there having overcooked the first turn. Fortunately, I quickly collected and refocused my thoughts. I motored along for the first lap, pleasantly surprising myself by riding with and even past women who only last year I watched from afar thinking such thoughts as, “Golly, they are taking those barriers awfully quickly!” and “Gee, how the heck did they ride up that!?” Nothing quite so fine as amazing yourself in this manner by taking a step closer to becoming just such a racer.

Now, I cannot lie that the details commence fogging over in the second to last lap. I recall voices of encouragement, both familiar and anonymous. Before the race I was recounting to a friend that there’s nothing more humorous to me than having perfect strangers screaming “Yeah, Bella!” as I am racing my last laps with a near complete lack of poise, snot emerging from my nostrils, and my tongue lolling out of my mouth in a most uncomely fashion. Makes me wonder just why they are calling me beautiful….

Hilarious, but as usual, I revel in the way in which everyone loves our team, colors, attitude, our fabulous kick-butt Kona kitty bikes, and supports us with great gusto accordingly. The energy all along the course had me smilingly giddily all afternoon and dreaming of cowbells throughout the night. And while no amount of cheering would have landed me on the podium this year, after the race, I was equal parts content with my finish and inspired and eager to improve for next fall.

Congratulations to our whole squad and best wishes to Steph for a speedy recovery. Thanks to our support crew and all the sponsors for contributing to yet another one of my dreams becoming a reality.

2 Comments:

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Velo Bella said...

so very awesome

watching you make the jump to pro this year and getting the chance to race alongside your fellow teammates (and be inspired by them)....well thats exactly why we do this.

thank you Callie

 
At 7:24 AM, Blogger Denise said...

WOW! Great report...thanks for passing that along.

 

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