Race Report: Harbin Park CX

img_4694So, race #2 was at Harbin Park. I went up the evening before to pre-ride the course (one big, big bonus of local races). The course was mostly the same as last year — lots of power sections, nothing terribly technical — except for one giant hill in the back. Dubbed “The Sledding Hill” (not for this race, I’m assuming that’s just what it’s called because it’s long and steep and ends in a field and would be perfect for sledding), the downhill was some steep switchbacks that led into a very open 180 degree turn, straight back up into a switchback halfway up the hill, to finally end with a gut-wrenching fifteen foot climb. 

If it was paved, it would have been decently challenging probably, but for whatever reason Harbin Park just has this crazy grass that makes everything six times harder to ride. I pre-rode the hill a few times, but only bothered to actually ride up the hill twice, figuring like, it’s going to suck no matter what, I might as well not do hill repeats the day before a race.

I managed to get the switchbacks on the way down figured out pretty quickly, at least to my own degree of satisfaction. I saw other people practicing over and over and over again to find the smoothest and fastest way around the turns, but I figured if I had a line that let me get down to the bottom without crashing or putting a foot down, that was good enough for me.

Honestly, though, when Ellen texted me the morning of the race and said “we don’t have to do the hill!” I was pretty thrilled. The course was enough of a lung- and leg-burner anyway, I was definitely not looking forward to climbing that hill in the middle of the race.

Anyways, skip ahead to the race.

I had a better start than I expected, and took the hole shot with one other junior. Around the first corner I slowed up, which was a mistake. I let several girls get past me, and had to struggle to re-pass a few as the others got further and further away.

I spent most of the race by myself. Besides the two leading juniors, I knew there was at least one other Cat 4 ahead of me, and I caught glimpses of her as I rode. One spectator told me I was in fourth, and then the next lap corrected himself to tell me I was fifth, which meant I was sitting third instead of second. I soon confirmed this after seeing the two ahead of me locked neck-and-neck.

I thought the course was a power course, which would usually be my forte, but the terrain just sucked my strength, and after hearing someone describe it as a “climber’s course” I was like “oh, yeah, that’s probably right.”

I never successfully fully rode the sand, but came close within six inches the final time through, which was a highlight.

img_4710I told myself repeatedly I could catch the two women ahead of me, but by the time we hit the back half of the last lap and I saw that they were pushing each other to their limits and extending their lead, I resigned myself to the fact I wouldn’t be able to catch them.

Well, I’ve waited too long to write this post, so all I really remember is the power-sucking course, and the pain in my legs and lungs as I struggled to catch the two leading ladies.

Takeaways include “learn how to ride sand,” “take the hole shot,” and “don’t slow up and let people around you or they’ll take off and you’ll have to watch them be ahead of you for the entire race.”

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