Friday, February 09, 2007

Dee Dee Does Worlds!

Final Race Report from Belgium

The last week I was in Belgium I got some good mud racing tips from Eric Tonkin and Rhonda Mazza. They were even so kind as to take me out on a training ride… in the mud. I had a blast. I was like a pig in poop. I felt relaxed and more confident and was making it through sections I would never have previously been able to handle. Woohoo!

So Thursday and Friday we pre-rode the course. It was a very different ride b/t the two days and I was thinking it was only going to get worse. The course started on a long straight stretch, took a 90-degree left turn and then another 90 degree left turn into a very muddy section. This proved to be a huge downfall on Sunday after the gun went off. I thought I had a pretty good start and then a few women went down in front of me in this section. I stayed on my bike, and then a few more went down, this time I had to get off. I was running my bike through the mud at this point seeing the front ladies disappear to never again have even a glimpse of them. Once through the muddy section you enter onto the grassy soccer field area, go around the pit, out the other side and head uphill to the first of 3 descents. These were much sketchier the previous 2 days than they were this a.m.

The course had been somewhat groomed with some sand put down here and there. Once down the first descent there was a long straight stretch, a hairpin turn to the right, up some stairs, down the second (the worst of the 3 descents), down around, up some more stairs and down the third descent. There was a long stretch that became somewhat muddy and proved to be the most challenging part of the course, power wise, anyway. (It was here that on my last lap through I heard the announcer saying Katie Compton is in 2nd place. I was ecstatic! I even gave a little cheer and continued my race.) I was climbing through this section in my easiest gear feeling like the pedals weren’t even turning.

There was another hairpin turn, down the slightly slick descent, around the tree and back up. I had to dismount this area and run my bike which proved for me to be faster and keep my heart rate a little lower than trying to ride it, up the ramp and down the other side. I was back on my bike. I hit the sand and found a clean path on the right hand side with a fresh tire rut. I hopped off, put my wheel in it and started running. I was so very close to the edge that I was almost running into the fans. Those that were hanging over had to scoot back a bit when I came through.

I was back on the bike after the sand and another deep rutted mud pit was straight ahead. I had seen people go down in this time and time again. I told myself, keep your head up, feet pedaling, never stop pedaling, look straight ahead, never down. Every time that I did this I made it through the mud without bobbling. I have to admit that I was not going at a rocket’s pace but it kept me upright. Baby steps right?

I always knew I needed the practice and this was great practice. I only wish I had had some earlier in the season. Up the hill, down the other side, around the corner, one more set of stairs, back on the bike, down the ramp and just a short muddy section until the start finish stretch. The previous week I had much trouble staying upright on my bike through the deep rutted sections of the course. Today, not so much. I kept my pace even and my head up. I had some improvements in these areas but my finish was still below par. But… I did the very best that I could. In all that I do, I have to practice, practice, practice before I get good at it. This was something that I hadn’t really done much of but actually look forward to doing in the future b/c of what I now know. I am not sure that I will ever be super talented at riding and cornering in the mud but I am certainly willing to give it the ol’ college try.

All in all, my experience in Belgium was fantastic. The training rides, hanging out with the other athletes and getting to know some of the locals made quite an impression on me. Having 3 silver medals from Danny Summerhill, Katie Compton and Jonathan Page was a great statement for American cycling. Both Rhonda and Kerry had impressive rides as well and all I could think was if Ann and Georgia had come to Worlds we would have had 5 women in the top 15. WOW! But… I was excited to be here and very grateful that I got the chance to experience cycling at this level. I was certainly happy to be home but I do miss hanging out with some of the people who had become friends in such a short period of time.

What’s next? For now, some time off of the bike. For later? Well, I am not really sure.

Thanks so much for everyone’s support and words of encouragement. It was truly a special occasion!

Dee Dee


At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you are awesome!


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