Cyclocross Season Update #2 2017-2018 | October
I was able to break up my east coast campaign this year with a visit home and the opportunity to race at the U.S. Open of Cyclocross. While I'd been gone less than a month it was a well earned change of pace to travel west for a week, spend eight hours cleaning the house, ride my familiar jaunts, dodge late season rattlesnakes, race at familiar elevation, and visit with my favorite cyclocross family. Coaching juniors has an amazing side benefit of being loved and welcomed by all the local cycling families and I can't say how much it means to me to be recognized and cheered on by so many kids and their folks.
The drive east from Wisconsin included carting one wayward racer friend along for the trip. I don't have company too often and having someone else to look up the next NPR station as we passed through each new town was definitely helpful. Having two extra bikes and four extra sets of wheels was a bit trying on my compulsive organization habits but I survived and many giggles were had to make the drive go by quickly.
While the KMC fest made much promises of less pavement and more dirt the new ratio wasn't much more impressive than the inaugural year. With little rain falling anywhere near the east coast of the US this fall what little dirt was provided featured two run-ups, their consequent descents, and turned quickly into sand under the many practice laps.
I have to say for someone who does not much care for road racing and has strengths based in bike handling and elevation changes, there isn't much more dejection than showing up to a 60% pancake flat course with the most technical aspect involving climbing over an actual guardrail and a greater than 90° turn through gravel to avoid an ill placed jersey barrier. Both days and for most of the categories the race involved the lead group staying cohesive until the final lap.
The race start involved a start circuit around the bermed pavement oval track to then dive through two tight turns under the flyover, stretch out on the grassy infield straightway, jump back on the pavement in the opposite direction and follow the track to the back side.
Day one in Connecticut had me solidly in the pack on the start but blocked in and shoved back when the group went for the first corners effectively putting me in dead last place on a course I had little motivation to attack.
I was determined to have a better start on day two but on a sadly similar second day's course with few changes to the route the start once again presented group tactics and this round I went off the front. I nailed the first corners in the top three and sat in for the straightways.
Feeling oddly not over-cooked I entered the first run up and had a (literal) front row view of my need to get stronger running up things. I was swallowed by the pack but still in the mix as we rolled over the top to the sandy option filled plunge. In a split second lack of thought, I went the way other than I had planned in the pre-ride and found myself on the ground and rolling through the dirt only to pick up and attempt the next immediate climb in what was without a doubt....the wrong gear.
I once again returned to the rear of the field in a dismaying attempt to fight as much with my motivation to ride hard as actually using that mental energy to go faster. Definitely not the way to perform well at a race but it was something to tuck away and learn from as there are no shortage of races to come.
Further proof it’s a road race… hey look, they’re clearing out the one rock on course!
Pretty sure that brake bump just swallowed me whole
I'd love to ride my bike up something else but if you took the whole day to build it....
These must be the bargain port-o-potties
Is that a guardrail step up? Is that a carpet on a guardrail step up?
If everyone is just going to sit there and stare at each other go for it!
Start the turn at the piece of carpet, wait, where'd the carpet go?!
On the plus side I was able to spend time with my favorite Massachusetts host family while managing zero tangles with cars (not so lucky last year), finding that low tide was the perfect time to train on the beach, and exploring a few areas I hadn't stumbled on previously. The east coast is such an elaborate collection of history and nothing is more cool than picturing the land as it was while standing in the exact place generations before had been.
With a few days to regroup before heading down to Baltimore for the next UCI race weekend there was time to stop through Shrewsbury for the can't- be-missed Holy Week remnant and Wednesday night fun of the Night Weasel Cometh.
This race features local flavor, beer on tap, a night lit ski hill in all it's rough and tumble glory, and a late arrival by yours truly who then started the race without a full pre-ride lap. Rather than get warmed up I opted to tape glow sticks on my spokes but was seriously outdone by a few racers (namely our winner Mags) weaving actual strings of lights through their wheels.