One week after my first CX race, why not do it all over again?
Very different from Race #1 all the way around. To start with, my wife was a little under the weather so she stayed home. And then my training mates were running a little behind so I did my parking lot prep, warm up, and course recon solo.
Much different course this week. Very few tight flat turns, no chicane section, and only one little run up over 10-12 stairs. Lots of short straights split up by 90 degree turns, the same out and back sand section from the week before, and several of the same downhills but this week they are all linked instead of being chopped up by other tech sections. Same start/finish ramp, a really fun, powerful, short steep, “do I ride it or do I run it” hill. Overall the lap feels a little longer and also a little faster. I really have no idea what that means, but it feels true. I get in a good warm up, and practice a couple of hard starts to get my clipping in at full blast tuned in. And with that the call to the line went out and we were set to go.
Whistle blows, I get clipped in no problem, peripherally I am aware of some people having problems getting started to my right so I follow a wheel to my left and end up being only 4 people back going into the first corner. A fast downhill section later and we are going into a really loose left hander that gave me trouble during warm ups and I sketch out a little and take a really wide slow line while 6-8 people pass me on the inside. I pick a wheel back up and play the accordion game for the rest of the first lap
I realize that I’m burning way too much energy doing the accordion thing and needing to sprint hard out of every corner so I settle back a little bit and try to stay hard-but-spinning the pedals steady for the next 2 laps. The short steep hill thing ends up being quite a bit easier at race speed than during practice. I’m losing time on the soft loose turns each lap and then making that time back up on the uphill and straighter sections. Starting with 3 laps to go I start to crank my pace up a little higher and my legs and lungs really get burning but not to the point that I’m going to blow up, so I keep going, raising my output every couple of minutes. I start passing a handful of riders but none of them have numbers from my group so its great psychologically but I’m not gaining any positions.
The bell rings on the last lap and I pass 2-3 people who went out too hard and are now having a tough time pedalling. Still no sign of anybody from my group. I finish really strong and completely spent. This course was tough, there wasn’t really anywhere to try to recover so it was nearly full gas the entire time. Lots of fun and I felt like I had a much stronger race all around than the first week. Ended up 6th, but my time gaps to the leaders was smaller than week one. Everything moving in the right direction. I just might have a couple things figured out by the time our local series starts in a few weeks. I would like to have a decent showing at those. More practice time, especially specific skills with handling a bike at high speeds on dirt. The CCCX series is a really well run set of races, great people, well organized, and as promised by my mentors a really great place to try out a ‘cross race for the first time.
Next Week: Rock Lobster Cup III