By: Cassandra Maximenko, DC, MS, ATC
Known as a “celebration of cycling,” the Sea Otter Classic is North America’s cycling season opener. The four-day event welcomes over 10,000 professional and amateur athletes to join in to complete in circuit, criterion and road racing with over 70,000 spectators egging them on. This year, pro cyclocross and endurance coach Cassandra Maximenko wasn’t sure if she would even be able to race until an hour before the start, but she dug as deep as she could and ended up taking first place in the women’s division. Here, she recaps how HOTSHOT helped her hold on, and win.
I had a tough start to the Sea Otter Classic race weekend. The Pro Women’s Criterium was the first event on Thursday. It was raining for most of our race and, with four laps to go, a rider cut off my line in a fast sweeping corner causing me to slide out. This resulted in a severely sprained right ankle and deep wound just below my knee requiring eight stitches. I could barely put weight on my ankle and the sutures prevented me from bending my knee, so I had to skip the road race on Friday.
Saturday was a day off from racing and I was determined to race on Sunday, so I tried a short ride from the hotel. Within 10 minutes, my right quad was cramping and I couldn’t pedal. I was desperate to stretch it just a little but when I tried I felt a couple of sutures pull out. I struggled to get back to the hotel and immediately iced my quad since it was sore from the cramping. Sunday morning I returned to the ER to have them check the wound. They couldn’t replace the popped sutures due to risk of infection, so they applied some steri strips and a bandage and wished me good luck in the race!
I headed over to the Raceway Laguna Seca, right quad still cramping, and spotted the HOTSHOT tent. I told them what was going on and they were happy to help. I took one bottle of HOTSHOT right away and the cramping stopped immediately! I started to have a sense of hope! I took a couple of bottles to go and continued with my pre-race routine. While warming up my legs on the trainer, I took another bottle of HOTSHOT about 30 minutes before the race. I rolled over to the starting line and had no idea what to expect…I was carrying another bottle of HOTSHOT just in case I needed it during the One-hour Circuit.
I felt great at the starting line. My energy was high, and although I was experiencing some moderate ankle and knee pain, I tried not to think about it. The race went well from the start. I watched the other riders to pick out the climbers and with four laps to go there were a few attacks on the big climb. I saw this could be a decisive point in the race and pushed myself to stay near the front by the crest of the hill. I managed to break away from the field on the “Corkscrew” descent by diving into the corners and maintaining momentum. By the end of that lap I had a 30-second gap, so it was time to dig deep for the next three laps and solo my way to the win! The cramping never came back, not even a twinge. My legs felt strong the whole race and of course I was overjoyed with the win after the events leading up to the race!
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