• Sunny Gilbert

Sweet dreams are made of these

With the UCI C1 race of the week-end behind us, and the experiential knowledge that the "mud lake" on the backside of the course was not going to swallow us whole, the mood on the starting line was decidedly more jovial on Sunday.


📸@bruce_buckley catches my pre-race game face

Short "Sunny" recap of the UCI C1 on Saturday: It was epic, for me - 5th is my highest finish ever in a race of this caliber. Take a quick look at the splits, and you'll see that I was *almost* right there! Fitness is good, just need to add the finishing touches (and according to Frenchy, some bike handling skills). Lest we forget, it is early October, and yet, still feels like summer - Thank you, Global Weirding. The big race - USAC Nationals - is still two months away! After we sorted ourselves out during the first lap, the leaders were off the front, and the chasers were scattered. Frenchy, Becca, and I were together for a few turns around the course, but even then, the order was established, and I would solo to 5th.


Back to the UCI C2 and that jovial mood. We knew we were about to get very sweaty and very muddy. The @Van_Dessel #FullTiltBoogie was outfitted with mudders and the tire pressure was dialed down so I could send it through those two mud lakes. As Becca and I were chatting, the legend Georgia Gould roles up soaking wet. She had use the bike wash hose to clean-up after her pre-ride lap, but also thought it was a good way to stay cool. We must have fixed her with dubious looks, because she chuckled, said "maybe not, maybe that is a terrible idea, and I'm going to be dragged down by the extra weight, or chaffed, or...." Something like that. By then Becca and I were laughing too hard to hear her. I had the nagging thought that I should have done something similar. #SoPro


With a first row call-up, I slid in next to Ellen. At the 3-minute warning, she raised up a full, dewey water bottle. To take a sip or chug it? Nope, she poured the whole thing over her head. Now, I was really thinking I should have done something to cool off. "Stay cool", Sunny.


2 minute warning. Arley, sandwiched between me and Lily, mused out loud, "I wonder if I sang, 'Sweet dreams are made of these'' (intoned in the Eurythmics melody) out loud, would you all get it stuck in your head?" "You're welcome", she concluded.


30-seconds, jeez it's hot.


Party-time! According to my Handupgloves. At the whistle, I held my line off the start, and somewhere between the first corner and the first set of barriers (this course "compelled" us off our bikes four times a lap! Special dispensation from the UCI?), I had slid in comfortably behind Becca into 4th place. We stayed that way until near the end of the 1st lap. Then, the "mud lake" claimed its first victim. Becca slid sideways on the uphill exit and was popped off her bike. My progress was "paused", but not "prevented", and I was able to, literally, slide using my momentum (PDX packed with mud) past her and onto the pavement to complete the 1st lap.


@Gofahr and I at the front of a chase pack early on Day 2 @CharmCityCX. 📸bruce_buckley

I've got a gap! At one point it must have been 15-seconds (not right away). I forgot about the heat while I was putting the pressure on. But, too soon, I started to feel light-headed. I focused on forcing my muscles to continue to push forward; everything felt like it was in slow motion. On the last lap, I heard Becca's shoes hitting the 29 stairs a second after I started up, and with one final gasp, I attempted to hurl myself over the top ahead of her. To no avail. On the next incline, she came blowing past with the gale force winds of a cyclist seizing her moment, and I kissed a podium good-bye.


One last jump over the "tree box barrier". 📸bruce_buckley

There was still half a lap to go. And even though I felt like throwing up every time I got out of the saddle, there was something motivating about being chased by Georgia Gould. I managed a late charge, maxing out my proverbial credit card, to hold her off for 4th. What a purchase, though, something I would pay for at the finish line. Wobbly and spent, I barely avoided a near collapse as I dismounted my bike, sauntered over to the fencing. Ceril - bless you - was there with watermelon, a cutie, and a full, dewey water bottle for me to pour over my head.

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