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Frozen over

Barbara Howe
December 18, 2009, 21:23 GMT,
December 18, 2009, 21:34 GMT

Chilly temps, not mud, at Portland USGP finale

Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten) during day one of the 2009 Stanley Cup in Portland, Oregon.

Barbara Howe (Vanderkitten) during day one of the 2009 Stanley Cup in Portland, Oregon.

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Every year I look forward to racing in cold, wet and muddy Portland. This year the weather played a trick on everyone and instead of dumping an insane amount of rain it got really cold and stayed dry.

Saturday's race had a little tiny bit of residual mud that caused a first lap crash. Of course I was behind the crash and once things sorted out I managed to make my way past several ladies. It was fun riding the BMX track dry, I even caught huge air (at least an inch) a few times over the second kicker. Linda Sone (Planet Bike) grabbed on my wheel when I caught up to her and we battled. She put the hurt on me and took eighth place leaving me with two UCI points, eighty-four dollars and ninth place.

I was a little bit over-dressed in the 33-degree Fahrenheit weather in my leg warmers, arm warmers, short sleeve wool undershirt and ear warmer. Linda had a different take on the weather, she wore only a short sleeve skinsuit with no leg covering and no undershirt. She thought the low 30s was warm and I thought it was cold, I guess that's the difference between living in California and living in Minnesota.

On Sunday the course was even better, we got routed up some makeshift steps and a different part of the BMX course. My race was not so good. Warm up went well, I had a good call up, my legs felt great and the bike worked perfectly. When the start whistle went off, however, I clipped in and heard "whup whup whup", my rear tire was flat. I watched, unable to believe this was happening to me, as everyone powered away up the start straight. Not knowing what else to do I kept pedaling as a few tears crept from the corners of my eyes. I couldn't stop thinking how unfair this was and how did the tire go flat between call ups and the start? It was even worse that I had just glued this tire earlier in the week and it saw only one race before flatting.

Everyone was staring at me as I pedaled as fast as one can on a flat tire. I had to run a few sections on the flat and about a minute in I saw Emily van Meter, usually a competitor, sidelined with a cold and I asked her, "Should I quit?" She yelled back at me, "it's a 'cross race, don't ever quit".

With that cleared up I continued my slow ride/run to the pit. Earlier I told Tim that he didn't need to be in the pit so my bike was just hooked over a section of fence. I ran in, dropped the old bike, grabbed my new one and took off. At this point Tim realized something was wrong and headed over to the pit. He moved my bike out of the pit lane in case someone else needed a bike.

Riding with air in both tires is AWESOME! My legs felt really good, perhaps the best they've felt all year, good legs coupled with mad passing skills I managed to ride into the money in fourteenth place.

I spectated most of the men's race with my friend Andrew but when the wind picked up and the sun disappeared the temperature dropped several degrees. Even in my long down coat and multiple layers I was way too cold to watch the end of the race.

Onto bigger and better things next weekend at National Championships in Bend!


Barbara Howe

Just as Barbarella bumps through the universe, comically oblivious to the dangers and threats being thrust at her, Barbara Howe has had a few misadventures of her own. After a year of sickness and a grievous injury she is finally recovered and aiming for the podium. Barb has recently signed with Vanderkitten Clothing and looks forward to a season representing "clothing for women who kick ass!" She currently resides in Berkeley, CA with her boyfriend, a room full of bikes and her cat. Follow her adventures here on

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