I was a bit unenthusiastic about pro nationals mostly because it has been a long season already and I had a string of three races planned that started with the nationals in Portland. And I was sad that Jeff wasn’t able to make the trip, but the race wasn’t in Portland as we thought rather about 45 minutes out of the city at Hagg Lake so he opted out as logistics for getting out there turned into a nightmare. But my attitude completely changed once I got to Hagg Lake and saw the course. It was beautiful and perfect for me: incredibly hilly for both the bike and run exactly what I like and works to my strengths.
When I arrived at the race site on Friday, I was pleasantly surprised and started to get a very excited for the race, my first ITU style, drafting race, since June. Race day was beautiful for us; we started late in the morning so it had time t warm up and the sun was trying to breakthrough the cloud cover. It was the perfect temperature where I was never cold but never hot either. The swim wasn’t my best; I picked the wrong feet to follow and was SOL when the feet I chose were dropped off the back of the front pack. Definitely a lesson to not be happy at the back on the front pack but rather try to get closer to the front so that I at least have a shot at staying with the small pack around the buoys. I came out of the swim in the second pack and felt good the second I got on my bike. I rode with our group for about 2 laps and then made my move and rode very aggressively over the next two laps to close the minute gap up to the lead pack. Entering my 4th lap through transition, I was only 8 seconds off the leaders and was definitely going to bridge. Then disaster….I hit the corner at the top of the hill going down into transition and my tubular tire came off the rim. At the time, I wasn’t sure why I hit the deck. I got up quickly fixed my chain tried to ride and the wheels wouldn’t move. I checked the brakes tried to go again and the bike still wouldn’t go. Hmmm what is wrong. .. Needless to say, after about a minute and a half of chaos, a spectator volunteered that my tire was off the rim. I checked and indeed they were correct a six inch section of the tire had come unglued and was off the side of the rim. I popped the tire back on adjusted the font brake as it was rubbing again and was off…a minute and 45 seconds later with a few bruises and scraps and a much more timid riding style. While I was off the side of the road, the girls in the second group both went by me and I busted my ass to try to make up all the ground I lost. By the 5th lap, I caught one of the riders and she sat on my ass for the rest of the ride. I made up some time on the other rider and the lead pack but definitely wasn’t as aggressive through the technical sections and keep worrying that my tire would pop off the rim again. Starting the run, I felt a bit tired and frustrated that all my hard cycling effort really netted me no gains with the time loss as a result of the crash. I tried to focus but ended up just running smoothly and simply holding my position of 7th. Overall the race was frustrating but I wouldn’t change the way that I rode or anything I did except to maybe have a better swim. On a side note, the tire was a USAT wheel that was glued by the trade team mechanic, the husband of a competitor I might note. In retrospect, I need to do a better job of checking the equipment that I receive since in the end it’s my job to be safe and stay upright out there.