The drive to Rockburn was only slightly different from all of the other northern bound Maryland races. The difference was simply putting in a different address into the Garmin and following the route. I arrived around 8 giving me approximately 30 minutes to unpack and get on the bike. Not so fast, it looked as if I would spend the first thirty minutes, unpacking and visiting the ever so nice port-o-johns. So I missed the pre-ride before the CAT 4 race, no worries, I would have a few minutes between the Men's and Women's races. I spent the next 45 minutes getting everything together and waiting for the first race to end.
The pre-ride was good. As I rode the course, I was looking for roots, bumps and other obstacles that would assist in my decision regarding tire pressure. I was starting with 32 psi and debating on whether to go up or down. This course was well laid out, long paved start uphill, followed by a few serpentine turns, then over to a sand pit. The pit was completely ridable, if you and seventy of your closest friends were not sprinting into it like a herd of cats bolting for the litter boxes after devouring a can of bad tuna. And that is precisely where I expected to be on the first lap. After the pit, the course weaved back and forth, dove into the woods for some single tract action, then back in front of the crowd for the standard barriers. After that, back to some single track, followed by a run-up peppered with four angle stairs. During the pre-ride, I was able to ride the stairs, but the risk-to-reward was too great. I would run these during the race. After that, the course continued through the woods and eventually back to the road. I knew from the pre-ride this one was gonna be fast.
Regardless, I made it to the start-line and found my spot, off the grid, and 11 rows back. I looked toward the front to see if I could find any of the regulars, spotting Thom Moore, Doug Owens, Jon Hicks, and a few more. A few seconds later, Adam Austin rolled up, but not on his bike. He had broken his hanger during the warm-up, grabbed Larry Sterrett's bike, raised the seat and posted right in front of me. Well my first Rapha Challenge was sitting in front of me on a bike two sizes two small. This provided an opportunity and an issue. With Adam on someone else's bike I knew I would smoke him fairly quick, but with 75 guys in front, it might be hard to get around him during the prologue. Then my worst nightmare, appeared. In the spot in front of Adam, a guy hopped in with a mountain bike and CAT 5 tattoos on his right calf. Objective 1 for the race was now shot.
Quick side note: While we were lining up, one of the racers, Gunnar, said, "Hey, aren't you Chuck Kyle?". Shocked, I simply replied, "Yes". He told me he reads the blog, enjoys it since it gives him a goal. I initially thought this was pretty cool, glad someone is reading it. Then several other guys who start in the back and fight their way forward told me the same thing. I don't want to speak for Gunnar, as he did not tell me his actual race goal, but some of the others did. Their goal? Catch me. Yes, I am a marked man in the middle of the pack. Now that is pretty cool since we can't get all the way to the front and chase the leader. Instead, the gantlet has been dropped and we have a race for the leader of the (middle of the) pack. If you are one of these guys and racing Capital Cross, hit me up with a cross results Rapha Challenge, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Back to the race....
The race started and Adam got a pretty good jump, but we were all bound up. I got around him only to have to slow pedal behind the mountain biker. After what seemed like an eternity, I finally (and safely) maneuvered around him and hit it as hard as I could. When we hit the grass my prized position of 25th was still 30 in front of me, I gained no ground. The race was fast, we went back and forth through the turns and eventually made it to the sand-pit. It was chaos. Some mistakenly tried to ride, others were in the tape, a few just were flopping around the sand making snow angels. Post race discussions revealed that the top 15 or so had the choice of run or ride and went through it seamlessly. Not my pack. Out of the pit I was sitting 48th. I was in the top 50 but still a long way from 25th. The next two laps were pretty normal, hard racing. Plenty of places to pass, but most everyone was running hard, so even though there was room, the pace made it fairly prohibitive. Only if someone screwed up was there time to get around them. I had worked my way to 39th and was continuing to climb.
Once I was back on the road, I saw Bill Schieken, off the side of the road with his bike. Though Bill will say it was a mechanical, I think he was just waiting for me. Bill normally gets in the top 7 or so, but I am sure he just wanted the change to bet me twice in one race, and that he did, wasn't long, Bill was behind me giving me a little heckling encouragement, rolled up beside of me smiled, and then was off like a bullet. Damn, how does he get so fast? Back to my peer group I went.
Not a great race for me today. I ended up 45th overall. Still beat my cross results predictor but by only 5 and that sucks. I ended up 8th in the 45+, that means only 28 points to the overall series. Unfortunately, cross results is no longer showing the points for the Masters 3/4/ 45+, so I am not sure if I am going to maintain 4th. I figure that I am may drop a position. A quick stop by Freshbikes and Greg was able to get the shifters back in place, fix the front derailleur and clean out a neglected bottom bracket. The bike is ready for next week, now I simply have to do the same for me.
Next race? 2011 MABRA Championship, Thanksgiving weekend. Crossresults Predictor? 30th out of 60. Hey I might get a good start position. Hopefully the leaders will be full of turkey.