by Lyne Bessette
In the plane on my way back from Louisville. I had a blast! I am now a master racer (it’s official its on my racing license!) That makes me feel grown up!
Most people know that I pilot a blind athlete on the tandem for Canada. When I started doing that, I was right away sucked in by the energy, hard work and kindness of that particular group of people. This weekend, I felt the same.
I arrived on Thursday and got on the course right away, “Ah great,” I told myself, “It’s muddy, I can deal with that.” After riding, I was so muddy I used the power washer to wash my bikes and … myself! Not such a good idea when I realized my ride for the hotel had left.
“It’s not that far,” I said to myself … Not far when its sunny and you are dry, but three miles might be a little chilly when it snows … and it was. I left the venue in a rush to get back before I froze right there like a statue. I did 300 meters and that was it.
My ride goes by! I wave and make Johnny stop. Phew. Saved.
Cold night. The mud freezes, the ruts are there waiting for us …
Friday morning, I rode inside for an hour to save my energy and not ride the mentally hard course that it became overnight. I still wanted to go watch the last race of the day. Not sure if that was a good idea. Guys all over the place, crashes after crashes … I was scared for myself and decided to leave. Sometimes its good to watch races before yours, it gives you energy, but this time it gave me fear.
Fear of crashing, hurting myself and not being able to be the partner I need to be for Robbi, my blind friend. I got back to my room and try to get rid of that by chatting with TJ about what I could do to get over to ruts …Tim won Nationals on similar conditions in 2007, in Kansas City. He gave me the confidence that I needed to get my head straight for the next morning, tire pressure, how to ride the ruts, saying, “Babe, keep your eyes and head up.” Isn’t it funny how we always forget that one?
Off to bed early, cold night , the ruts and ice are still there …
Saturday morning, I had my plan: up early, ride to the course, do two laps , ride trainer to stay warm, change and go. I followed.
I get to the line, I know most of the officials from my 16 years on the circuit and it feels just like home. Big Dog takes my jacket, I joke around with the girls, one of then tells me that its an honor to race with me (she made my day.)
And we are off. I take the holeshot. My nervousness is gone, I’m in my element: racing! The course is ruts all over, and ice. Lucky us, they moved the tape a couple places over to give us a chance to stay upright! Thanks, Bruce.
After an hectic start, I’m in the lead, I feel good about everything. I’m in control.
I come past the first pit because the bike is good, no changes needed. But halfway past the entrance of the pit, my handlebars get caught up in the red fence and I go down like two tons of bricks! Ouch. I get up try to push the bike. Nothing, it’s stuck. In my head I’m thinking my race is over, I have to run the whole half a lap.
“Stop! Turn around, go backwards on the course to re-enter the pit!,” I hear. Really? So I start running backward, thinking that I will get disqualified, re-enter the pit, get a new bike and go!
I didn’t know, but since I wasn’t past the last flag of the pit zone, I could do that! Lucky me! I’m now in fifth. I get into my chase mode, trying to be smooth and focus. Within a lap, I was back in the front. When I got closer to getting back in the lead, I relaxed a little and saw where my opponent was slower than me. When I passed her, I pushed where I was strong and went easy in the more technical spots. With one lap to go, I’m all business; I know I want this. I have a one minute gap. OK, stay calm and upright, this is no time for mistakes.
Of course, I ran into the tape twice in the last lap bringing down the gap to only 26 seconds, but that was enough for me.
I had a friend Johnny Jensen helping the whole weekend. He drove my two bikes out here and helped me with anything I needed, I had Bill Marshal from Challenge, who let me borrowed his Glacier Gloves for the race (awesome!), I had the SRAM guys (Jose and the crew) that helped with making sure my bikes were A1, I had a Bruce Fina’s hug before the race, Tim’s old friend from Lindsey College, Big Dog, who was at the start for me and tweeted my race for my family and friends. I traveled alone, but really, I wasn’t ever alone.
Another big thanks to the five guys at the Pub after the ceremonies that just walked by and saw that I had a World Champion jersey on and came back for a picture … they didn’t know who I was. “What’s your name,” one said.
“You can find out,” I reply, smiling. Then I told him I was TJ’s wife … No, really! Perfect!
The guy that made me take a picture with a sign that his wife made … funny.
All the fans that came and said hi through the weekend, thanks! Thanks to my husband Tim. Thanks to all my supporters , my parents , my sponsors, my teammates, my friends, and my team, Cyclocrossworld.com. I will be back next year. Until then, have a great winter and see you on the road.