Monday, November 19, 2007

Hillsboro Cyclocross Race

First, a few pictures...

The race was held at Hillsboro Stadium. Well, not so much in the stadium as in the fields and parking lot surrounding the stadium. It had been raining for 3 or 4 days straight and also the day of the race. My race time was about 10am and it was still at best in the mid-40's. Add the fact that by race time I had been standing in the cold with nothing more than my cycling shorts Craft no-sleeve thermal, shortsleeve jersey and arm warms, and a light semi-waterproof shell and you can see that I was miserable waiting at the starting line. Again, we all get there early so that we don't have to start at the back. My race time is composed of two divisions, open C's and Master C's 35+. I race the master C's. There is only one class slower than our field, the Beginner class, which starts an hour earlier.

By our race time, the course had already been beaten up pretty bad between the 130 racers in the 9am race and everyone who had pre-ridden the course to get an idea of what it was like. I pre-rode the course, not that it made any difference, becuase by the time my race started the course had changed with all the racers riding on it. I pre-rode it in hopes of warming up a bit, but by the time the race started I was freezing. However, about 3/4 of a lap into it I wasn't feeling cold anymore.

The race started on asphalt and then to hard pack gravel/dirt and then to sloppy peanut butter like mud. It was not meant to be a running area but for most of us, if not everyone, it was faster to run that 50 yards than to ride through it. Then back to a fast hard pack double wide dirt path over a double barracade and then back to the fast hard pack again. Then the second half of the course was pretty tough. It took me two laps to figure out the route to take on the first of the next peanut butter sections and the feel confident enough to go in to it fast enough to hold my momentum. Without momentum riding some spot would have been either very difficult or impossible. Later after a couple of mud puddles or mud soup sections there was a slight uphill that was just too difficult to ride. Maybe the A's and B's could ride it, but I didn't see one person in our race do it. The second picture above is from this section.

Later after some tough riding we had to ride back down this same area. That was fun. While others were perhaps conservative in their riding of this area, I just hammered though it. I am sure that many attacked this section as well, but nevertheless it was a spot where I could make up time on those around me. I don't worry about falling when it is really sloppy. The mud is soft enough to dampen a hard landing, and I have found that if you are making good speed your forward momentum can often bail you out of a bad line or over a hidden rock or hole. On the second lap I passed three guys in this section and felt pretty dang good about it. the fact that 2 of them passed me again once we were back on to asphalt didn't really matter.

My glasses proofed to me useless after the first lap or so. I chucked them to the side during the second lap at a spot where I could hopefully find them after then race (I did get them back). I just couldn't see much with all of the mud. Plus some mud would find its way somehow inside my glasses which made it as bad as if I didn't have them on anyway. Without the glasses on the fast sections I just tried to squint as to make the space where my eyes were vulnerable as small as possible.

I don't have my result yet, but I am sure that it was around the same that I always place. I had a bunch of fun. When I got back home I was surprised all the places that I had mud packed. It took quite a while to shower.

Below is a few pics of my bike the morning after before I cleaned it. I should have done it when I was spraying out my clothes but didn't feel like messing with it. Click on a pic for a more detail image. Also note the most of the mud was washed off by the rain on the car ride home. Yes, I wrote most of the mud was actually aready washed off.

UPDATE: preliminary results show that I was 48th out of 77 finishers plus 7 DNF's. Not bad for me.

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