Get this true believers--I came in first place! (Disclaimer: there were only 4 people racing Master C)
I felt great and I rocked the race. Everyone just got out of the way as I went by! (Disclaimer: Well at least the guy that lost his chain, the guy that flatted, the junior racing the Beginner class that I lapped, and some other random guy)
After my win today I am feeling confident that it will soon be time to move up to Master B's! (Disclaimer: By confident I mean that I don't think I will be DFL, and by soon I mean I will decide to do a race as a Master B some time within the next 2 years or so...maybe more.)
Ok, ok, time to get a little more serious. I drove down today with Lane, AKA Spider McCloud, keeping me company. It was to be Lane's first cross race. Frankly, I was impressed that he came. I figured that, like most of the guys at the shop, he would bail on me. But nope, I picked him up as planned.
Once we arrived down at Camp Harlow we started getting set up to race. I had debated whether or not to race Master C's or Master B's. I wussed out and decided to race with Lane so that we could leave and head back to Portland once the race was done instead of sticking around for another hour. I felt a little guilty about being down there since I was missing work which costs us money. Well, that is what I rationalized and so I was on the starting line at 10AM with the other Master C's and the C's for the mass start.
I was on the front line but for some reason I just sucked off the start. I mean I got passed by about a dozen guys right away, including Lane in his virgin cross race. At this point I was just wondering what the heck was going on. I had been under the weather this week, but I didn't expect to get worked over by everyone right off the bat.
But, about a half mile into the first lap I started feeling ok and started passing a few guys, including Lane (whew, thank goodness). I ended up getting stuck behind a slower fellow in the singletrack section. He wouldn't get out of the way despite the guy behind me yelling "Damn it, we're getting gapped! We're getting gapped!" a few times. This was true, the guys that made it in front of me were long gone by the time we were through the long singletrack. I managed to catch up with a couple of them later in the race but since they were C's they didn't affect my placement. All of the Master C's were behind me by this point in the first lap. I just didn't know it.
Fast forward a few laps. On the third lap (I think) I passed a guy that had been ahead of me, his name is Paul and he is on the Portland Velo team. The dude is pretty fast, but he was having difficulties. I think he said he dropped his chain on the single track section and I passed him, only to have him blow back by me on the bumpy rutted flattish sections later. Then he ate it over a little short 6 inch metal barrier and I caught him again. Then I caught up with him again on the fourth lap in the singletrack section because he got behind a slower rider, a junior racing Beginner class. But once we got out to the open flat ground he blasted off again. Then on the final lap I again caught him in the singletrack. I thought to myself that it would be sweet to actually be able to pass him and hang on for just the half of a lap that was left. The fact that it was the half of the lap that he wasted me for each of the other 4 laps was really beside the point. I was right behind Paul going into the triple barricade section and sandy run up. I really don't like those steep run ups. Skinnier guys usually torch me at those spots normally. But I maxed my effort and hung with him going up and was right on his tail when we re-mounted. I stayed right behind him as we enter the fields. I tried to pass him at one point but was unable to get past him since he had the better line and better position on me. As we went into the barriers I went in hot and managed to get along side him and we were getting back on our bikes at the same time side by side.
At this point I remember thinking to myself that I had him, that I would be able to pass him. But, um...no. I couldn't get into my pedals and once I did I was in to tall a gear because I had gone into the barricades without shifting down into a more appropriate one before dismounting. So Paul went on ahead and I tried to catch up but I could not bridge the gap. I shut it down for the last 100 yards and tried not to vomit on myself. I was seeing dark spots in my vision. I think that was about as close to passing out as I have ever come during a race.
Paul and I, we had been having a bit of conversation here and there during the race congratulated each other. It was a good battle and I felt good to be in the game at the end of the race with him. He has had some pretty good finishes this year--better than I have--and he really is in better shape than I. But since he was racing regular C's instead of Master C's I ended up in first place there. The faster riders were all in C's. But I think I did OK. I thought I had a decent race. If Paul hadn't had issues I wouldn't have been close to him on that last lap, but that is OK. I still hung tight for half a lap with a better rider and rode well enough that his bobbles were all I need to get close to him.
Lane had a great time he said and I think he will be back for more. So the cyclocross disease has probably spread to at least one more person this weekend. And he was hungry enough from the race that he downed two Big Mac on the way back from the race. I was impressed.
Still I wish I was faster. I think I am getting there. My running has helped. I have learned to throw it in a lower gear so that I can stand and mash the pedals out of the saddle when the course gets pretty rough instead of sitting in the saddle. This takes more energy, but it is faster and doesn't beat me up as bad. I need to be more aggressive at the start. I need to ride more.
Lucky for me my wife is letting me start commuting back and forth to work again. It had been more helpful for me to be at home more to help out with the newborn and our boys, which is possible when I drive back and forth to work instead of riding. However, since we won't have the use of a second car anymore since Bridget's sister's family is back from their 6 week trip to Europe. So, my training will be ramping up once more.
Here are some pictures of the course and the B race that my friend and frequent commenter Brian was in.