Crazy in Kansas

December 20, 2007 · Print This Article

By Kari Studley
Bothell, Washington

It was hard to believe how fast the season flew by and that it was finally time for nationals. I have been the joke of my friends and family for the last month with my ambitions to go race my bike in circles…in Kansas…in the middle of December. My mom took it a step further in telling me the night before I traveled east, “ I thought it was funny until this week, but now I think you’re crazy!” (especially in light of the ice storm Kansas City experienced earlier that week – my game plan: bring a lot of knitting to be prepared for any flight delays). Always good to have parental support in such endeavors. I also remained undeterred in my national quest when my host family asked, “why Kansas in December?” You know it’s a good sign when even locals think you’re crazy….

Our flight to Kansas was unremarkable other than I woke up that morning with a faucet for a nose and congested sinuses – not fun, especially on a plane. We even managed to navigate correctly to our host family and discovered in unpacking the bikes that my seat clamp bolt had gone MIA in flight (I really did tighten it, but lesson learned in the importance of taping bolts as well). The time change suited me well because even though it was 6:30 in Seattle, I could still justify going to bed since it was now 8:30 in Kansas.

My head cold remained persistent through the weekend, but fortunately, I felt good on the bike. I had THE BEST start EVER for me. Going into the first slippery turn, I was right where I wanted to be and even stayed upright as everyone else went down around me. Since there was no space to ride around them effectively, I was forced to dismount and run up the slight hill. At the top, I remounted and pushed down the pedal only to have the other side smack me in the back of the calf with no resistance and no momentum gained – my chain had dropped! Always a first for everything, but what an unfortunate time & place – especially in this race. I really think I would have placed 20-30 had it happened anywhere else other than the first half lap, but that’s the way it goes. So back to working up from almost dead last…

This was my first (and only) experience of riding/racing on FROZEN mud. It wasn’t quite as bad as I anticipated, but certainly the most challenging technical riding I’ve done (I quickly figured out the concept of “tripoding” I overhead before the start of the race, now it made sense). I actually felt quite good once I got racing – I think I’m like Shannon Holden in that I do better the more adverse the conditions. I only took out one course barrier stick (with a spectacular summersault to accompany it) on lap two and slid down the last mud hill on the last lap (had to run back up the hill to get my bike!). With my season of mechanicals and crashes, it really could have been much worse, so I’m pleased with my 40th place. I know I can achieve better, but with all things considered with a dropped chain and head cold, that’s the way it goes. If anything, it has me super motivated to get next season started. My season of “experience” is completed and now I’m ready to RACE in 2008 & I can’t wait!!!!!

Thanks again to all our sponsors – especially Donn with Challenge Tires (who went out of his way to ship me a new tire just in time for this race and graciously helped us in the pits – that’s sponsorship!). I really have appreciated everything our combined sponsorship has helped me achieve this season. I also want to thank our gracious host family who had never heard of cross before our stay but are now hooked. Plus it’s great to see someone get as excited as I do in having their OWN cowbell. And HUGE thanks to Alex for all his coordination for this and throughout the season and our great crew of mechanics. I really appreciate it and look forward to crossin’ in 08 with everyone.

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