On a cool, cloudy Saturday the Pro Women’s field took the start in the green and pleasant Bonelli Park of San Dimas, CA. As the gun went off we hurried up the pavement in a bunch, staying mostly together for the UCI mandatory start lap. I was happy with my position in the top 10 as we hit the dirt, remembering the physical sensations of race pace and settling in for a quality effort at threshold. As the field began to spread along the course, the short steep climbs provided opportunity to pass or be passed, World Cup style, with fast riding ladies vying for position. What would prove to be large gaps were quickly appearing between riders, although the cloverleaf course layout allowed for multiple viewings of one’s competition. The trail wound through the trees of the urban park providing a challenging mix of sharp rocks, powdery dirt and sharply turning hardpack.
For me all was proceeding nicely when I heard the gut dropping hiss of a tire losing air. Within seconds my tire was flat and I veered off trail riding the rim of my Stan’s NoTubes 3.30Ti hub prototype back wheel. Since I rarely have flats on the Stan’s NoTubes setup, this seemed quite a stroke of bad luck, especially since I had no awareness of hitting anything in the trail. Sometimes when you hit something you know it, it was operator error, and you wait a moment with baited breath to see if you will pay penance; but this came as a complete surprise. I had a large sidewall gash, which may have sealed except that my inflator was not the nice new pink Big Air provided by Genuine Innovations, but an old and apparently defunct one I had brought in an effort to avoid TSA confiscation on the flight out.
I guess there are some times where a frugal approach is not the best approach. As a racing pro since 2003, I’m embarrassed to admit I made such a rookie mistake. Like I said, not many flats over the 9 years I’ve used Stan’s system! So, I commenced duathlon training and began to run. I ran a leisurely 4k with my Orbea Alma 29er bicycle (glad for its 20 pound svelteness) to the start/finish pit. I had lots of encouragement and comments of “bummer” as folks empathetically cheered me on. When I hit the pit, I was greeted by team sponsor and sixty-five.12 owner Kricket Lewis, by Krista Park’s husband Todd, and by Luna mechanic Zach who graciously lent his floor pump. After plugging, pumping, refueling and remounting I was exiting the pit when the tire gave way again. So we tubed it up with lots of air and I took off again as Todd said “go get your training on”.
I jumped back into the field between Lea Davison and Krista, holding my place for most of the next 2 laps, pulling off trail when I heard someone approach in order to not affect the outcome of the top 10 racers. I believe it was my first ever last place finish, 2 laps down from winner Georgia. But I rode 3 laps at race pace and ran 1, so those efforts will go into the coffer of training adaptation for later benefit. It is a long season, and there is always another race! Tomorrow is short track racing. Let the hurricane of pain commence…