I kept repeating that to myself and reminding myself that medicine, by it's nature, to do you any good has to taste really nasty or hurt like a $&%$@, several times over the opening two rounds of the 2008 Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series this past weekend. New this year was me racing Singlespeed and also Masters 35+. The Singlespeed race is 30 minutes and the Masters is 45 minutes, both a lot shorter than the races I am used to doing but the races I normally do aren't done WFO the whole time either. Cross races just plain HURT!
I was on the line for my first Master's race and I looked around at all the pro1/2 and cx3 riders I saw plus the field in general was big. In fact all the fields were pretty big, a nice testament to the popularity that this series has earned in the few years it has been around. Low entry fees, great prizes and awards and stiff competition make this series one of the premier Cyclocross series in the Southeast. A win here means you did something. Once we were off, the butterflies were gone and I was at my redline from the beginning. As I expected, I faded within the first few laps and camped out somewhere at the back if the field. It was really painful but I did what I could.
I ended up 22nd.
By the time the Singlespeed race was ready to begin, I was questioning my motivation and wondering if I made the right decision to do two races. To make it more fun, they called a holeshot prime. The Singlespeed race is another class that the pros and other fast guys have found to be a good place to get podium spots and more track time. I guess that's fine with me, If I win a race, I want to know it's because I beat the fastest guys around not because none of the fast guys showed up. The start was brutal but I felt better on my mountain bike ( at the last minute, I borrowed a cross bike from a friend to use until my Vassago Fisticuff comes in. I could not have even dreamed of being competitive in Masters on a singlespeed). My mountain bike fit me and I have been through a lot with it this year. It's like an old friend.
The Dwayne Letterman designed course contained one sand pit (I love it!!) and the WTB Weirwolf on my Optimus just ate that up. The bucking and kicking I experienced earlier on the cross bike was replaced by buttery smooth ripping it. I felt good in the sand but suffered everywhere else. I ended up 10th.
Sunday's round 2 found me with poo filled sacks for legs. I could not get warmed up for the masters race and after the start, I wasted no time doing a solo break off the back. My only goals were to not get lapped and not finish last. I got lapped on the last lap - dammit but managed 21st which was not last. I just kept reminding myself that this was training and it had to hurt for me to get faster. About 40 minutes into the race, I was really tired and that led to a spectacular endo in the sand pit (on Sunday there were 3 sand pits. Evil but cool at the same time). It didn't hurt but it did piss me off. I was happy when the race was over.
The s/s race was the last one of the weekend and I had no motivation to ride. The temperature was now near 80 and it was miserable. My motivation returned when I heard "GO" and I got a great start. I stayed near the front for the first lap but then began a slow trip back through the field and settled in at 11th by the finish. I was tired but so was everyone else. I felt good about what I did.
All in all it was a great weekend of learning for me. I know how fast I need to ride and I have a pretty good idea on what I need to do to get there. I definitely feel like it did me some good. It will be interesting to me to see how I progress over the course of the series.
Thanks to David for the use of his crossbike, I'll clean it up before I bring it back.