A Return to Cyclocross
If you’ve been following my twitter feed over the last few weeks you might’ve seen bits here and there about building up a cyclocross bike and getting the crazy idea to start racing that series.
It’s all true, I scored a Trek XO-2 frame, dismantled the venerable LeTrek, and built up a sweet new bike that I’m looking forward to punishing for the next couple months, and train on during the winter.
It all came pretty fast too, after a slight delay in getting my fork painted I got the bike built up on a Friday night, gave it a shakedown ride to/from work on Saturday, and raced the Cat 4 Mens race at the Sun Prairie USGP of Cyclocross that morning. When you have no preparation whatsoever there’s no time to get worried about anything – and that’s just how I like it.
Other than the fact that I could barely sleep due to nerves, (it’s been 2 years since I’ve last done a CX race, and never done it on a geared bike before!) eating the morning of before the race was an issue as well – stomach didn’t want any part of that, so I fueled up for my 35 minute race with a Clif Bar (chocolate mint w/caffeine … yum.) and left it at that.
I scored a sweet set of Bontrager Aeolus 5.0 ACCs to ride from the shop, and to help me look oh-so-pro while out there representin’ the store.
Race reports are always an interesting thing to read online – it’s hard to convey the emotion in just typed words without flamboyant arm waving, facial expressions, or visual aids.
To that end, here’s a handy bullet list of the facts to keep in mind for the start:
- I fell over, clipped in, in the start chute.
- Out of 98 riders registered for the race, I was lined up in the last row as number 97.
- I haven’t had barrier practice since the race I did 2 years prior.
- My ankle still gives me a little trouble from my crash every now and then, I had no idea how it would hold up.
- My last actual anaerobic race was back in May.
- I was pumped as hell to be in that chute at 8:30 in the morning.
With the start gun firing, I made the best of the start that I could. Going out way harder than I should have, I arrived at mid-pack before the end of the first 2 mile lap. Long stretches of power terrain interspersed with quick turns and switchbacks made up the first half of the course — the second half was technical, twisty, there was a steep climb, followed by a EXTREMELY steep downhill 180 to a “run up” section that was rideable if you could power through it.
I did a lot better in the 2nd half of the course, riding almost every day does give one a bit of fitness but it sure isn’t anything like powering through the flat stuff. Halfway through the race my muscles near my lungs started searing in pain – guess I haven’t used them like that in a very long time. I would catch people in the technical stuff, pass them, hopefully hold them off in the open sections, and repeat till the end.
A slip here or there as I tempted the limits of traction cost me a couple spots, two to be exact. There was a fight in the last quarter mile during the downhill 180 were myself and 3 others were all vying for position. Elbows were rubbed, lines were cut off, and some two wheel drifting was used to score the advantage. Barely enough energy left to hold off my adversaries in the final sprint brought me home in 43rd place.
The bike was perfect. My fitness was surprisingly good. Goals were achieved. Now I’m hooked. I never got the chance to put forth a proper effort this summer for racing and training, I guess now is the time to take advantage of the opportunity that’s being given to me.
As you can see, the story is much better told with proper visual aids and vocal influences. The following photo provides a small experience of just what it’s like to hear about one’s battles on the racing field.
Now if I can only pry myself away from ice cream, cookies, and proper Oktoberfest Beer as the weather gets cooler I’ll be set to go. Next race is on the 18th – here we go!