amy alison dombroski

2009 Blogs

Sunday was off to a beautiful start with bright blue skies, the sun's warmth, and not a cloud to be found. I arrived to the venue with ample time to recon the new course. It had actually changed quite a bit from the day prior. There were some more zig-zagging corners which, with finesse you could rail without grabbing a handfull of brake. The u-turns provided the feeling of a crisp arc on a finely tuned pair of slalom skis. The middle of the course was fairly similar to the day prior, holding steady with rips dispersed through the trees. On the 2nd half of the course, the railroad tied stairs turned into two grueling kickers - the first S'd it's way up, quickly topping out and shooting hard back down to a tight u-turn with a pitch looming before you.

As the minutes ticked away from the final hour before the gun show, the bright blue sky transcended into a deep grey. Trees were aswaying and the wind was ripping through the venue. The final pre-race instructions were muffled by the wind and soon we were within 15 seconds, waiting for the ominous shotgun to set us loose. In the name of torture, firing the shotgun must be a pretty fun and cruel job. At any point in the final 30-seconds the gun can fire. So you've got all these overly caffeinated skinny bike racers who are chomping at the bit like a raring bull before a red flag. The jitters are already there before the call-ups even begin, and as each name is called, some riders attempt to be sociable and calm and cool, just shootin' the shit (mtn bikers). Then there's the other stone-faced racers, who look as though they're next in line for execution (roadies). But what's going on inside? A racing heart and crush, conquer, kill! Each rider nervously looks down and around, feeling his or her tires to make sure they're spot on, checking out the bike beside them and speculating how flash it is. Of course the photographers who come to every race have observed this matter of behavior, so they're all clicking away, while us riders are trying to look good in our skinsuits - suck that gut in, make sure the heart isn't beating too far out of the chest, make sure the legs aren't trembling too much, adjust the helmet and glasses for the 47th time so they're not crooked, checking the flair to ensure it's doing whatever job it's supposed to do. Meanwhile the slowest 30-seconds of every Saturday and Sunday in September through January are crawling by as Shotgun Willy is harvesting a great satisfaction in watching us all tremble in our underwear. If there's one thing I want to do when I retire from racing....

Believe it or not, the gun fired within the 30-seconds, and I was off to a better start than the day prior, sitting probably 5th or 6th wheel. I was trying to hold steady to the wheel in front of me, but my legs weren't quite there today and that pop to match another pace was lacking. The zig-zag section spit you out into a raging headwind and a slog along squishy ground. I was a bit gapped going into the straight, and being alone, the wind ate me up and spit me out. For the remainder of the race I was with me, myself, and the wind, just doing damage control. Finally on the final lap I was feeling a tad bit more spry and saw that Dunlap was looking over her shoulder at me. I gritted my teeth and pushed a little harder, shutting the original gap of 15 or 20 seconds down to about 5 or 6. But the finish came too soon, although I was quite happy to pass it, albeit a 7th place finish...finish lines are sweet.

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