Pain comes in three's
After last weeks triumphant return to racing for me, I knew I had a looong way to go to feel like I was in somewhat decent shape. From riding my bike all summer at pretty much a tempo pace, I have a good base but I lack high-end fitness that you need to do well in racing. Above all other forms of bike racing, in cyclocross there is nowhere to run and nowhere to hide.
Round 6 of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series rolled into Johnson City and Winged Deer Park Saturday. The threat of snow and frigid temperatures got me really excited and reminded me of the State Championship race at this same venue just 10 months prior where it snowed 4 inches. The snow held off but the cold was there to stay. Ahhh cross weather.....
My goal after last weekend is to race my way into decent fitness and try to do well in the upcoming State Champs race in January. With that in mind, I signed up for Masters 45+, CX4, and Singlespeed. The classes were staggered just enough to give me about an hour between each race. Just enough time to get cold and suffer more when it was time to race again, yummy! Having said that though, I don't think I am ready to go 1:45 at or above my AT just yet, nope I think I might just puke if I tried that. After a pseudo warm-up, I took the line for the Masters race where I got the holeshot -yay me! I have learned from nearly 30 years of racing (good GOD I am old!!!) motorcycles and bicycles that the start is critical. Get a good start and go backwards if you must but it's a lot easier to stay at the front if you are already there. Plus you stay out of all sorts of trouble by getting a good start.
I had no intentions of staying at the front this day however and about half a lap in, I started making my way to mid-pack where I would set up shop for the next 40 minutes. I felt - meh... Not bad but definitely not good. Perhaps the only thing I had going in my favor was I was there, doing what I love and I was no longer cold! In fact, I was starting to roast and my tights were causing me problems on my remounts by getting caught on my seat several times and subsequently ticking me off. I pushed hard until the final meters of the final lap and then sat up and rolled across the line in 10th place. I headed to the dirty orange box that I drive to rest and get some fluids before the CX4 race.
I didn't get such a good start in the CX4 race and that was fine with me. I still felt some of the effort from the Masters race and was thinking that I was happy that this was just a 30 minute race instead of 45. By now the course was getting slick in some of the off-camber sections and in one corner I went down. It was nothing spectacular, I just fell over like a dork, costing me time and nearly costing me positions. I was determined to defend my 14th place or die. I just kept telling myself that I am training and these races don't matter, heck none of it really matters in the big picture. I don't have anything to prove... Try telling that to a competitive soul on a course with other people on bikes. I pin a number on and I change. Who doesn't?
Despite falling and having a few wardrobe malfunctions, I had a decent race and as far as training goes, I was having a great day. After the 4's I went to get a Coke and a smile and chill out until my final event - Singlespeed.
In SS I got a second place start right behind my pal, Neo-Pro Wes Lamberson who races for Union College. I knew I'd be following him only as far as I could so I just tried to settle in second and that soon became third then fourth (dangit) but I managed to stay there for the remainder of the race. At that point it was all about blue-collar suffering. I began to get real sloppy and fudged a few corners and tripped on the barriers at least twice. Training, training, training, I'm only training, I'm only training.... I kept telling my legs to shut the **** up (thanks Jens) and push onward. I pushed as hard as I could until the end. Everytime through the Redline run-up (a steep bank that was kinda slick), I attacked it like my life depended on it as opposed to a death march or crawl up it. Fitness is coming back to Duckman's house one way or another!
Three races hurt and I was really knackered at the end of the day, only speaking with one syllable words and using a lot of hand gestures. I was happy with how I did and am anxious for the rest/recover/rebuild cycle that brings on the gains in performance that I am expecting. I will get a chance to gauge my progress next week at Round 7.
Until then, Arriba, Arriba, Arriba!!!