My return to racing came this weekend in round 5 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears cyclocross series in Johnson City. I was looking forward to returning and especially since this was Halloween and Spooky Cross! My 6 month no racing mandate had passed to allow my skull time to heal and although I have ridden a lot since the wreck, my race shape was expected to be lacking. Boy was I not disappointed.
I rode around to warm-up before the Masters 45+ (my 44th birthday was Saturday so that meant my "racing age" for cross is now 45, I am officially old) and I was thinking about how the pain was going to feel...ugh. Hey, this is cyclocross, it hurts! Deal with it. The Dwayne Letterman designed course was fast and flowed really well and included two trips through the sand. It was fun. At the start, I was sitting on my top-tube and mentally prepping when the USAC official said "Ok gentlemen have fun" and everyone took off! CRAP! No ready, set, go; no GO! no fanfare, nope, just a sweet little, soft spoken lady saying ok boys have fun. I was expecting cookies and milk later..... Consequently I buried myself deep in anaerobic hell trying to get into a good position on the first lap. 45 minutes later I rolled across the line in 16th. Whatever. It was training for me and my first race in almost a year so I didn't really care a lot about position.
My next race was a few hours later so I went for lunch. Maybe a burrito complete with jalapeno peppers wasn't the best idea before another anaerobic effort. That's all I will say about that for now. Readying for the CX4 race I was rather upbeat and looking forward to it. This time I was going to be ready for the start lady. If she even passed gas I was outta there like a thief on a new bike. I got a much better start and was in 4th place going into some dips and swoopy turns on the upper end of the course. I bobbled on one of the dips and almost crashed. I saved it but lost all my momentum and went from 4th to about 15th just like that. CRAP! I buried myself again trying to regain some positions and it was about then that mr burrito came back and merely suggested that I might want to eat something different before a race in the future. I rode around (some say there was a race going on.. hmm, I was riding my bike in circles and trying not to puke) and crossed the line in a dismal 21st. I was pretty unhappy with that and had to remind myself that I knew it was going to be bad, to suck it up and put on my big boy panties and deal with it.
After a birthday dinner with my sis (and a beer..yay) I rested and considered my plan for Sunday's Tornado Cross on the campus of King College in Bristol.
Sunday morning I woke up and my legs felt baaaaaaad. After getting to the venue and registering, I got on my bike and rode for about 40 minutes to try to warm-up and get my legs moving. They were pissed at me and not talking. The course was interesting with a swampy section and some woods complete with good, old fashioned singletrack. King College is a beautiful campus and a great place for an event like this. I only did Masters 45+ since I figured I had done enough for the weekend and I took the line not really knowing what to expect. We had a actual whistle to start and that went and I went - not so hard this time. Still, I found myself in second (for 45+, 35+ was out there too so I was about 8th or 9th in the field and I tried to go hard as I could but still remembering that I had 40 minutes left to race.
I got passed and was comfortably in 3rd for most of the race until 2 laps from the end and I messed up coming out of the woods and got tangled up in the marking tape - doh! My buddy Dwayne the saw blood and put in a dig to catch me and I dug as deep as I could to prevent that from happening. 1.5 laps later I sat up and soft pedaled the final 100 yards to finish 3rd.
Overall I was happy with the weekend. I knew returning to racing would really suck in one aspect but it still is a whole lot of fun and that's why I do it.