Our good friend and Grease Rag founder Dr. Durkee has moved out to San Francisco, where she continues to ride, wrench, and blog. Her blog, Woman in Chains, is starting to develop with posts about safety, beauty, and competitive spirit.
From Woman in Chains:
Cycling, chains, women- the pun is obvious. Being a woman in the world of bicycles is a challenge of balancing gender roles and determination, society’s assertions of equality with the truth, of crashing the patriarchal hegemony that is ‘the norm’ in the ways and means of superior knowledge. Woman in Chains is a blog, foremost, to examine the ways in which the cycling world and women find each other both fantastic and exasperating.
I've been enjoying Dr. D's posts, and her latest is really great. I hope you'll check it out.
Dr. D's latest is a race report on her VERY FIRST cyclocross race! She did no less than win 4th in her class! This is one fast WTF, let me tell you. I liked reading her account because she talks about her nervousness in the beginning, her doubts while racing, and she attributes her success to willpower and endurance. (In that order.)
From Women in Chains, "Race #1:"
Sunday was my very first race, cyclocross or other (OK, other than Babes in Bikeland 2009, which was awesome!). I’ve been preparing for about 2 weeks since I got my new bike (All City Nature Boy!) and have thoroughly enjoyed the string of “firsts” that have accompanied the experience. The “first” I was really really nervous for, though, was this race. I couldn’t eat the night before or in the morning when we awoke at the butt-crack of dawn to drive across the bay.
The race went well. Category C women were the first to hit the course- started 30 sec. behind both the junior boys/girls, and the 55+ men. That early in the morning the course was still fresher and less technical (esp. since it started raining soon after our race)- something I was relieved about since I have good endurance, but pretty new handling skills. I tipped over once during my practice laps and almost snuggled up in the soft sand, defeated, but got back up and decided that it was probably a good corner to run through rather than attempt riding.
Right before the start I looked at the women around me joking and laughing and wishing each other good luck, and I felt comforted. The urge to cry turned into a determined burn in the pit of my stomach. My friend gestured for me to come up to the front, but I hung back, waiting to see how people would dash out with the “GO!”.
I headed out just concentrating on the wheel in front of me, watching it snake back and forth trying to gain traction on the gravel. We rounded the first corner and the second to the run up, where I surprised myself by jumping and leaping like a gazelle, managing to keep pretty good momentum through my mount (something I’d been struggling with! So, success!). Descent, run-up, descent, sprint, corner, corner, ascent, descent, corner, soft sandy patch, run-up, and round the corner to the start line. I made it one lap and how many more to go? 4! Fuck- my language apparently goes to hell when I’m under stress- I thought, and kept pushing, trying to make up speed on the flats w/ my legs spinning my 39/18 gearing.
They say in every race there’s some moment when you think about just quitting, you’ve had enough. That was mid lap 2 for me when my breathing became uncomfortably heavy and I thought “shit, I’m going to have an asthma attack.” and that was followed by “NO! You’re finishing this. Just pace yourself”. And then came the corner where I heard my partner (mistakenly, it turns out…humorously…) shouted “What are you doing!? You can go faster than that”. “You son of a bitch! Way to be supportive!” flashed through my busy little brain and spurred a very determined/dark look on my face. I started concentrating on passing people and making my corners faster, which culminated in passing people and almost wiping out a couple times. As I got more and more tired, feeling that area of complete auto-pilot start, my handling was more and more of an effort even as I knew the best lines more and more. At the last lap I passed my friend in the field who was struggling and I knew I was doing well because she had started at the very front and is a strong rider. We rode right with each other until the end as I made a little gap through a tough spot by running through it and came around the last corner with my eyes on the finish line. I crushed an old man because it seemed like I may as well catch up to him, and it’s a good thing I did because my friend was right behind me all the way.
We ended in 4th and 5th! So awesome for our first race! We can’t wait for this next weekend when we ditch the boys and go it alone!