What would you like from a blog? That is the question that I have pondered as I sit in front of the keyboard thinking of what to say. A little advice that I was offered from a friend suggested that I give a little more course description, since not everyone races the races that I do, and to provide a little more insight to what is going through my mind during the race. Most of the guys that race with me wonder if I am thinking about chasing butterflies through a field, while others wonder if, like them, I can’t think of anything due to the sound of my pounding heart, beating at over 190 bpm as a move along. So if you have and thoughts, either place them in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. So here it goes.
Saturday morning I woke up looking out to see snow flurries in October in Virginia… what the hell is going on? After a couple of CompuTrainer sessions in my garage, affectionately called the Bike Torture Chamber, BTC for short, I spent a few minutes seeing what was going on in MABRAland courtesy of gamjams.net. After a few hours making sure that I had the appropriate tire setup and prepared for the race, I looked out, it was still snowing, but the decision was made; neither cold, nor the rain, rollers be damned, for me it was 'Occupy Kinder Kross'.
My race was at Kinder Farm Park, up in Severna Park, Maryland. The weather had cleared as far as rain but the temperature was still sitting around 39 degrees. The course appeared fairly dry except in a few areas and flat. The technical aspect was more of the serpentine turns and curves then steep hills and turns like DCCX. I forgo the traditional course preride due to the flatness of the course and the concern of getting completely soaked and waiting for my race. Also, based on my past finishes I knew I would not be off of the front, so discovery learning could be accomplished by simply watching the guys in front of me.
I was fortunate enough to have a descent starting position, about the forth row and the preregistered field as around 72. I am not sure how many racers showed up but I would estimate it was around the mid-sixties. I looked around for both my cross results nemeses and cross clash challengers. I spotted Thom, Adam and Doug, so I knew I had a challenge for the day. Interesting enough, Doug pulled up on a 29er. Typically I would have seen this as an instant advantage for me, but earlier the winner of the CAT 4 was on a 29er. One note, that guy was also wearing a dress for the day, I am assuming it was a Halloween outfit.
We got lined up and ready to race. After the gun there was a little calamity behind me but the front got off pretty good. I was sitting in the top thirty for the hole shot. Once on the grass we had a few S-turns that dove in and out of one of the three muddy sections of the course. Completely ridable when alone but much more challenging with you and fifty of your closest friends are attempting to nail ot. A guy went down in front which caused us to dismount and shoulder the bikes. This was the first and last time I saw Jon Hicks who would later win the race.
After this section of the race I began moving through the crowd, passing some and being passed. I settled in behind Dave Tambeaux and kept Thom Moore in my sights. No matter how hard I would go, Thom would keep the exact distance between us, there was nothing I could do to close the gap. Back to following Dave. Dave was taking great line and seems to be gaining on the riders in front of him so at this point it seemed better to stay on his wheel, which was pretty tough. We came to the second mud area and he went though clean. I went high and found myself in a rutted area causing a little problem and creating a gap. On hindsight, the gap is probably the best thing that happened to me for the day. As we came up to the virtual lake, basically a 12 foot by 6 foot, six inch deep water /mud puddle, Dave too the center line, once in the middle, his front wheel just dug in and he flipped over the handlebars creating an addition crater in the mud. Instantly he was digging to get up and back on the bike, this forced me to the left, which is what I figured would be the worst line, but was one that I was able to ride each time without issue so discovery learning at its best. Thom was still ahead of me so that was my next racer to chase.
The next four laps went pretty uneventful. I will say that on lap two I was ready to bag the race. My heart felt like it was going to break through my ribcage. I was praying for a rolled tubular or something, but Thom was still up there nailing each of the turns so I continued to chase.
On the penultimate lap I began to gain a few seconds on Thom, I am not sure if he was slowing or I was getting a little faster. We came off of the asphalt and into the hole shot twisting curves, Thom went cleanly though all of the turns and on the very last little climb his front wheel lost traction and he went down. I made it by him and then went as hard as I could. I settled in and looked back but could not find him. During this time one other rider grabbed my wheel and was pursuing closely. I didn’t recognize the dark blue kit but I think the race number was 469. I could be absolutely wrong, but … As we approached one of the “right turn out and around a tree section”, the rider in front took out the tape. It left a pretty good gap and if you lacked integrity, a perfect opportunity to just turn left. I went right and the rider behind me went left. Complete crap!!! Over the next half a lap I tried to chase but it gave him a solid thirty second advantage, I could only hope Karma would met him in the mud pits, but today, he took a chance and it paid off. (Note: this does not mean I would like to see someone hurt, that is not true, but flopping around in the mud, would have been okay) I didn’t see the rider again so I don’t know if it gave him a place or two in front of me or much more. Where he finished I have no idea. I worked my way around the course caught a few more, made it through the lake and up on to the hardball. After a few good pedal strokes I finished in 27th. Crossresults predictor had me at 52nd, so 27th, I will take.
As far as the Rapha Focus Clash Challenges, I think I got Adam and Doug. The results are still not published but I didn’t see Thom for the rest of the afternoon so I might have gotten my nemesis too. Thom, thanks again, you made me ride my tail off.