...this is the kind of stuff I'd post on it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Cyclocross 2009: Crosstoberfest

Crosstoberfest 2009 was last Saturday, at North SeaTac Park, in well.....SeaTac.  SeaTac is the only city I know of that's literally named after an airport, and the airport itself is named after the two main cities that it serves (Seattle and Tacoma).  I haven't spent a lot of time in SeaTac, and it may in fact be a lovely town, but seriously: worst name ever.

I decided to take the light rail down to the Tukwila station, right near the aforementioned airport, and ride about a mile and a half to the race.  Never one to miss an opportunity to take a picture of one of my bikes, I snapped a few pictures while I waited for the train:



Yep, you're seeing that correctly: I have mismatched wheels. I'm in the middle of building up a new set that will eventually find their way onto this bike, but for now I'll have to put my anal-retentiveness aside.

The train ride was quick, and once I got down to the Tukwila station, I headed north to the park, following Military Road.  The road had a wide shoulder, but there was a lot of glass and other crap laying around.  I kept thinking "I'm going to get a flat on my way to the race, and not have time to change it before the race starts".  While this wasn't the case, I did happen to get a flat later that day........

The Cat4 field was much smaller than at the other MFG races I've been going to this year.  I think there were about 30 of us, instead of the 50-75 riders that had been at the other events.  My guess is that not too many people were "doubling up" on the racing for the weekend, since the Starbucks GP was the next day.  My favorite part of the field: the couple on the tandem, dressed as a swim team.  I didn't get a picture of them on the bike, but I did snap a picture of their mean machine later:



Now that's what I'm talking about.

During my pre-ride of the course, I was amazed at how much singletrack there was on the course, and technical sections on top of that.  This first section of the course was on a running track, but it wasn't long before we were in the woods on some pretty gnarly singletrack. This course also contained the first "run-down" that I'd ever seen.  It was a really steep downhill section that had some loose, torn-up dirt that made descending difficult.  During the race, I rode it each time, mainly just skidding down it in a "controlled crash" sort of way, but I saw others just dismount and run down.  There were also 2 run-ups, one was a loose dirt scramble, and another was a long set of stairs.

The track:


The stairs:

The race started with the usual sprint for the holeshot, and I faired pretty well, making my way up towards the front of the pack by going up the right-side.  I seem to fair better on courses that are more technical and "singletracky" than courses that are more flat-out grass and asphalt, and I was able to move up in the field quite a bit in the first few minutes of the race, before everyone got spread out.

The laps were long, and this was a 30-minute race, so it wasn't long before I heard the bell indicating one more lap.  I was getting pretty excited about the prospect of finishing near or in the top 10, but then again, I couldn't breathe and my legs were screaming, so it evened out.  I could see a few people up in front of me, and I planned on hanging near them, or trying to catch up in this last lap in my quest for a top 10 finish.  I was coming down a short straighaway about 1/3rd of the way through my last lap, when I heard a horrible "ppppppppssssssssssss" coming from my front tire.  Within seconds it was completely flat.  Shit.

I hopped off, and made my way to edge of the course, cursing up a storm (under my breath of course).  Juuuust as I was about to go under the tape and leave the course, some guy shouted "Hey, number 20!".  I looked up and saw a guy holding out a spare front wheel, motioning for me to take it.  He said "the pressure's pretty low, so you'll probably have to baby it a little".  I thanked him profusely while I scrambled to change my  wheel.  His rim was a little wider than the rim I had on originally, and I fumbled with getting the straddle wire put back on my front brake for a few moments while I heard people ride past me.

Once I finally got the wheel on, I was able to finish out the lap.  I had to corner pretty gingerly though, since the pressure in the tire was pretty darn low.  Finishing the race was way better than DNF-ing though, and I was incredibly thankful the guy who loaned me his wheel.

Once results were posted, I saw that I ended up in 16th place.  The guy I'd been following before my flat came in 6th.  So much for my top 10 finish!  I stuck around for the awards, and watched the winner receive his 6-pack of Fat Tire, mix CD, and bag of homemade chocolate chip cookies.  I couldn't think of better prizes to give out, especially since beer and cookies both sounded really incredibly good at the time.

Overall, the event was a great time.  I loved the technical course, and having giant airliners flying just over the tops of the trees every few minutes.  Despite Stevil Kinevil's recent pronouncement that racers tend to be douchebags (which they certainly can be), I met a bunch of friendly people that day, and even got to ride on their equipment.  It's events like this one that really make me like 'cross.

~D

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