Cross season officially kicked off for me at the Ed Sanders memorial cross race Sunday morning. I got home from the Beer Run around 7:30 and didn't have much time to dick around before picking up DKEG and heading to the race. Fortunately, I knew Saturday might be a long night and I had the bike and gear ready to roll for the race. Quick cuppa joe and a shower helped to clear some of the cobwebs and I was off...again.
The venue is a cool water garden/nursery with numerous ponds and you guessed it, lily pads. Coming back from PA I drove through some heavy rain and was looking forward to a nice, wet & muddy race. That's what cross is all about, right? We drove through some light rain on our way up there, however, it stopped before the 9am race. With the exception of some damp grass in a few (very few) places, you'd never know it rained. Much of the course was dry and dusty and could have used a little more rain, just to be tacky. I geared the bike in anticipation for some mud bogs and probably could have used those teeth out on this fast track. However, I knew I would be staged WAY in the back of a large field, 110 registered racers to be exact. Only 98 of those people actually showed up that morning, but, I was still pretty deep in a very competitive class. Today was going to be about improving my passing skills....and not puking on anyone.
As usual, I tried to hit it hard at the start and gain a few positions. Tough to do when there are so many guys, but, I got a couple in the opening straight-away. From there it was all about finding a hole and jumping in it. I felt surprisingly good, considering, and was looking for my tempo. About mid-way through the second lap my seat starts to move and slowly slides all the way down until it bottoms out. Well shit, that sucks. Nothing major, but, I'm not getting any extension in my legs and this is not the most efficient position to be in. Riding out of the saddle for 3 more laps is not really an option, so, I just deal with it as best as possible. The long, flat gravel sections kill me and my legs burn as they grind from this compacted position. The good news is my gear choice helps with several of the steep hills encountered and I only run up one, which is a mandatory run-up anyway.
It was on the second lap I saw a rider down on the side, not looking very good. A number of people were on site to direct people to the side and keep the injured out of harms way. Well, any more harm that is. I later read that he may have broken his neck and the race volunteers continue to re-direct racers for the remaining laps. Apparently he tried to cut a corner a little too short and stuffed his wheel in nice sized hole. I wish him a speedy recovery.
Update: I just read the rider did not suffer a broken neck. He got banged up pretty badly and is in a neck brace, but, nothing is broken. I'm glad to hear this.
With my elfish seat height I rolled along for 3 more laps. It was damn near impossible to push hard on the flat sections and I lost time here with each lap. I would get passed and then make up those spots once the course got technical again. Unfortunately, it was a fast course and straight-line speed was more important than technical ability. I finished mid-pack at 39th and 11th in my age group, meh...
Later that night I was sitting in front of my computer waiting for the registration to open on 3 more races. Hitting the refresh button in my browser every few seconds. Start position is everything in these short races and the race to registration is just as important as anything you do out on the course. Learning to play the game, one race at a time.