I headed out early Sunday and picked up some new friends -Ginger and her boyfriend Nick and we headed for Hendersonville North Carolina and the UCI Cat 2 NCGP Cyclocross race. I was excited to do some extra curricular suffering between rounds of the MSG Cross series that's going on at home. It's interesting to me to look back and see how cross has worked its way into my riding.
2004 - MSG was new and I did one race just to say I did and to support a local series.
2005 - Two races.
2006 - Two races. Cross was still a novelty and not something I really felt a need to do much of.
2007 - Five races. Uh, would have been six but I got sick. I went to the sixth race and stood in the rain to watch.
2008 - I have done 8 races so far (two classes at most MSG series events) and the season isn't over yet. Already thinking about "next year".
Yeah, I guess I am hooked.
This was the first road trip to do a cross race for me and I was excited to see a different venue and some different faces to race with. It was cold but sunny and the venue was fantastic. We got there and after getting registered, I headed out on a few hot laps to check out the course and get warm. It was a long course with some really nice features like fast, swoopy turns, lotsa flat "roadie" stuff and even a little pseudo singletrack. Oh and a really neat feature called "the wall" - a short, steep climb that was all power. Don't have enough and to you it would be another run-up.
When I went to the start, I was in the third row and had someone in each armpit and a couple of front wheels rubbing my legs. Hmmmm, wonder how this is gonna work. I looked around for Ginger (we raced a the same time) and couldn't see her anywhere. There must have been about 50 CX4's and with the juniors and women, there was probably 75 or 80 people jammed in there.
Good thing we started in waves.
I rarely get nervous at the start of a race but today I was a little jumpy. I felt better when I heard "GO" and I managed to slip inside a few racers and get some clear pavement to sprint towards the front before the first turn. By the first turn, I was in a real crappy position on the extreme inside and was going to have to brake hard and then sprint hard again to maintain my position. Just as I started to brake, I heard "I'm passing on your left". Uh, dude there's a fence there and then there's me and I ain't moving. He hit me and as I went through the corner, I looked over and saw him on his back with his bike up in the air.
I was in about 15th place and the pace was really hard, really hard. I got passed and passed some back and forth through the first lap and coming through the finish, I saw 3 laps to go. Cool. I love long courses.
I didn't love what happened next though. Going through the barriers, I tripped over my bike on the remount like a dork and twisted my knee really bad. I had a sharp pain through it and considered quitting but rode easy instead to see what was going to happen. I got passed by pretty much everyone, I thought. I was surprised to later see I finished 31st.
Yeah, whatever dude. I had fun but was disappointed. I wanted to do better.
After my race, we all hung out and watched the Elite men and women. The men's race was won by Jeremiah Bishop in an impressive display of tactics and sheer strength. Equally impressive was Steve Tilford who at 48, was the protagonist of the break that would decide the race and plum whupped all but two of the elite field.