Round one of the 2007 Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross series got underway yesterday at Steele's Creek Park in Bristol, Tennessee. I was looking forward to opening day since I have been training for weeks for this - yeah, right. I hadn't practiced a dismount since last year's MSG Series. I was anxious to race though. I hadn't raced since the Fool's Gold race back in August and I was getting really antsy.
I have had a rush of crappy luck recently, I almost broke my face at the 6 Hours of Warriors in Sept and a couple of weeks later, I dnf'd at Benge's Revenge due to a broken spoke. I was looking forward to a fresh start on the fall series that will have me racing for the next six weeks. My luck wasn't any better yesteday as I was getting ready to warm up and realized my shoes were at home. With the Pro's just starting, I had one hour to drive the 22 miles back to my house and get back in time for my race. It also meant I'd get to race with no warm-up whatsoever, effectively taking the pain I was going to feel and kicking it up a notch - BAM!
Don't you know I got behind every piece of slow moving vehicle you could imagine. Heavy equipment, cops, tow trucks, old people. About the only one that didn't get in front of me was someone on one of those little electric chairs. I was really pissed off when I got back to the park and pull in behind a guy at the self-serve entrance gate that only accepts dollar bills. He is out of his car, scratching his butt and looking puzzled. He asks me if I have change for a $5 ( I didn't) . I did have $2.00 so I jumped out, gave him a buck and wished him well ( I also wished he'd get the hell out of my way because if my math was right, I had about 10 minutes left before I was supposed to start).
Oh the drama.
I did get to the start on time. Actually I got to ride 3/4's of one lap for a warm-up (oooo big deal, might as well read a magazine instead but at least I got to look at the course). I was really in a bad mood but decided I was going to make the best of it. When the starter said "GO" I popped in behind the guy that pulled out front.
I didn't really think much of it then and I just rode my pace and followed him for the first 3/4 lap. He turned out to be a lot stronger than me (won Master35+ and got 2nd OA in CX3 last year, he should be a lot faster than me.) and I didn't want to try to match the pace he was setting. After 2 laps, I looked back and only one dude was behind me about 30 sec back I was guessing. This was weird. I felt like s**t and my legs filled with lactic acid really fast. I just knew everyone else was about to pass me. Coming around to the front stretch on lap 3 this is what I saw
Mr Sandbagger checked out and It was just me and the dude that was closing in on me, slowly but closing in steadily. I tried to ease up where I could because I was about to die. On the run-up, I hopped back on my bike and squished one of my boys. There's nothing like riding a bike with a heartrate at around 190 and mashing one of your nuts to really make you want to puke. While I was trying to recompose myself, my stalker caught me and passed me.
I figured he would and there really wasn't anything I could do about it at that point. I got it back together and now the hunted became the hunter, yeah right. I was keeping him in sight hoping he'd blow.
Going into the last lap, I felt like I could get him. I put my head down for one last hail mary attempt and got to within 20 feet of him. He saw me and put in a surge of his own. With about a mile to go, I should have waited longer before I moved but I tried to get him in a spot where I noticed I was faster. I had hoped I could blow past him and make him think I was stronger than I really was but it didn't work.
Ah, it was better than nothing. I got 3rd.
In the end, I was not surprised that the Masters/CX3 guy whipped our asses, I was surprised to see that we had almost a half a lap over 4th. There were some strong riders back in the field. I didn't expect that.
My Vassago Jabberwocky performed like a champ despite all the ribbing it took from comments about the little bitty cross tires I put on. It was just one more confirmation that I am on the best bike made. It takes whatever I ask it to and doesn't complain one bit. I could make a number of comments about that but maybe I shouldn't. That whole Lorena Bobbit thing still gives me the willies - so to speak.
Addendum: The 1.56 mile long course designed by Dwayne Letterman was one of the most fun cross courses I have ever ridden. It had plenty to keep you interested instead of just being a crit course on grass. Thank you Dwayne, Eric and everyone else involved in putting on this series.
You guys rock!