Although I'm in horrible shape compared to most of the racers out there, I wasn't getting onto the cross bike completely cold, thanks to a little cross practice in the woods, and a few weeks of Cross Club (although all the beer from Cross Club probably negated any possible fitness I might have gained).
After watching a few friends in the Cat 4 Masters race (sorry about the flat Mike), I stripped down my my race duds and headed up to the line. To say that the fields were large on Sunday would be a complete understatement. Cyclocross' exploding popularity was in full effect in almost every field. I think more than 75 riders started in my race.
Since there weren't any call-ups, I had to jockey pretty hard to make my way to the front of the pack after the start. The course was virtually unchanged from the year before, and included a few singletrack sections that were going to make passing a little tricky.
I felt pretty good on the bike overall and found myself in a decent placing for most of the race, but I did end up hitting a little bit of a wall around 30 minutes in (there's that lack of fitness!). I ended up losing probably 6-8 spots on my last lap or two, as fresher guys passed me. A generous beer hand-up from the infamous "Sally from Raleigh" provided just enough hydration and nutrients to get me across the finish line. When all was said and done I ended up 27th out of 71 finishers, which was just about the same as last year, considering the larger field.
Afterwards, there was plenty of beer and food to keep everyone company through the rest of the racing. I sauntered down to the woods where the mud was to get a better view of the tricky sections. I quickly found that my puny cowbell was no match for the megaphone beside me (best spectator idea ever).
|Photo courtesy of Karen Johanson|
It was a great start to the season, and a pretty good wake-up call that I need to get my shit in gear if I want to compete this year. This weekend is Starcrossed (lights! velodrome! Euro pros!) and the Rad Racing GP (sand! sand! more sand!). Wish me luck. Us Cat 4's need all we can get.
|Gratuitous post-race muddy downtube shot|