Bay Area based cyclocross squad representing Fresh Air Bicycles in San Francisco and Hunter Cycles from the mountains of Santa Cruz County. Besides our title sponsors, we are fortunate enough to have the support of some fantastic folks: San Francisco based companies like De La Paz Coffee Roasters and Una Pizza Napoletana, in addition to Thunderbird Energetica & EpicBar, Vans, Pacenti, Sim-Works and Paul Components.

See you in the dirt.

 

Check

I’m on my third glass of wine here, sitting in my kitchen about 50 something hours after my first ‘cross race of the season. Still getting my head around that, still am, so bear with me here.

Thinking back to the start line of CCCX #2 at Fort Ord this past Sunday. A few pros, people talking about riding in their drops, a meek crowd gathering around the group of me and the other 10 women signed up to race the A’s together. My nerves were smooth that day, which was surprising but awesome. The weather was balmy and sunny. The course was straightforward, perfect cake; sweet, textured, enough depth but not overkill.

An anti-climatic whistle trills and we’re off. How many times can I rotate the crank arm before I lodge my cleat into the goddamn pedal? Three! Cost is seconds, literally, but more than that mentally. Rotate, rotate, rotate, I’m watching the group and finally manage going a good click. There’s a turn about three quarters of the way into the course that I don’t see anybody around. I’m slipping back, plain and simple.

Come the fourth lap, I slow down a moment to listen to the whispers of my quads begging to cramp. They’ve done this before and pulled the plug, dialed back the efforts, plenty of times before but I’m going to override it today. I have nothing to lose and a bit of water (with ions, science shit) at the ready, so I listen for a moment and then plow through it, take a nip from my waterbottle, and carry on.

The agreement I had made with myself for the day was simple: remember what it’s like to go hard like this. No pussyfooting. There’s plenty for me to work on, absolutely, but I’m glad I’m getting the first one out of the way. The first race always rips me from the calm world I’ve been riding in. It’s a storm that comes tearing through, leaving things in me a little unrecognizable, shifted, tattered.

Last lap. Last lap! I’ll show you, last lap, I’ll show you that I can still motor this mother and finish strong. Out of the saddle on the flats, up the kicker, pedal thick down that flowy singletrack on the backside there, out of the saddle up the last bit of climbing, and then down down down down to the twisty gravel turn, around the picnic tables with kids fiddling around on their bikes, around a few more turns, off, over the barriers one-and-a-two, hop back on, and finish line. That always feels good, the finish line, but I make note here that I can still go. Should have left that out there, I think, but there’s no going back so I’ll put that in my filing system.

No patience to talk, I make my way back to the car and sit down. Heart palpitations, and lots of them. Not sure what that’s about, and who cares anyways. I make myself decent, grab a banana, coconut water, and cherry Coca Cola, and carry on to watch the men race. There’s some tough competition out there. I’m glad to be on the other side of it right now, glad I already put my bid in and fought a little, and keen to the idea of fighting a little more this season. It’s funny that us racers do this but I’ll laugh along and keep at it, because why not?

-Heather P

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