MFG CX #1 - Cycle-U Kick off Cross - Big Finn Hill
Did somebody say there was a cx race this weekend? It was marked on my calendar but it doesn't seem like there should be one scheduled yet. It's been in the 80's and hasn't rained in weeks. What's wrong with this picture? I was just coming off a long road racing season and was ready for the transition....Except for the fact that I haven't spent any time on my new cx bike. I did race in the Midsummer Night's CX race at Suncadia in July but that didn't go well for me. It left both me and my bike broken. We had just arrived home from vacation the night before and I barely had time to set up my bikes before it was time to head out the door. I had the RV and wanted to get to the venue early so I could find a good place to park in the team lot. When I arrived at 7:30am it was already in the 70's. It was going to be hot one. I had a chance to catch up with a lot of cx buddies and watch the early races. Our Cat for men and women came out swinging with Justin and Jeff going 2nd and 8th and Theresa, Brie and Mehgan all finishing near the front in their race. Jitka looked strong winning her first race of the season.
My Cat 3 old guy race was at 11:20 and we were going off a minute behind the 35+ field. Since it was the first race of the series there were no call ups. They had called guys up randomly by numbers earlier but didn't for us so it was a little chaotic. I didn't get a good spot so I just had to hope I could use some of my "roadie" skills to move up on the long paved section that started us off. I looked around and saw that pretty much all the big hitters in my field were there. It was going to be a shootout!! I was hoping I had my tire pressure right because based on the earlier races there were going to be a lot of flats.
The whistle blew and off we went.
The long paved lead out gave me time to get my sprint legs on and I was able to gun it and get around a lot of guys. When we entered the course I had moved up to about 8th position. I wanted to be patient but I was too amped. I quickly got by a couple of guys and slotted in right behind Paul L. He won the Labor Day race and is always strong. By the time we entered the first single track section we had already started catching slower guys in the field in front of us. The first pass through the single track section was super SLOW and I new other strong guys were sitting right on my wheel. We were racing for 45 minutes in 80+ degree heat so it might just be the last one standing in for this one. There were no run-ups or any other obstacles except one barrier section. It was dry and fast so it was a perfect course for the roadies. I'm not sure when it happened but while in one of the single track sections Paul went down hard right in front of me. It was deja vu all over again. Just like the Nats crit his bike flew right by my head. I braced for it and figured I was going to hit the deck too. I don't know how I got but but somehow I did. Guys behind me were not so lucky. This was a good chance for me to put some distance between me guys that got caught behind. I gunned it and passed some more slower riders in the 35+ field as well as a few more guys from ours. This year MFG decided to go with color coded numbers and it definitely helped. We were in yellow and the 35+ field was in pink. I knew Larry B.(Stanley) was right in front of me but I wasn't sure if anyone was ahead of him. I just focused on closing on him. By the start of the 2nd lap I realized I was feeling really good and I just needed to NOT have any mishaps...Easier said then done.
By the time we were about half way through the race I really didn't know what place I was in. I figured I was sitting in 2nd but people were yelling out that I was in the lead and had at least a 10 second gap. Unless Larry had flatted and was a lap down I was going to keep racing like he was the leader. He wasn't riding away from me but I was not able to close on him. Every time I got close I would either get to one of the single track sections or get caught behind slower riders.
There was one short climb on the course that was nothing for me to tackle but with the heat, dust and the speed of the race I felt like Zoo hill on the final laps. After cresting there was a 180 onto a paved downhill section that many coasted down so they could recover. I hammered down it every time, trying to get by slower riders from the field in front of us.
One lap to go! After spending several laps trying to close on Larry with no success I decided to just ride smart, make no mistakes and hoped that Larry's bike would somehow explode into a million pieces. Mark, my teammate had been right behind me for most of the race and I didn't care if he caught me. I had no idea that he got a flat at the worst possible time and about as far away from the pit that you could get. We had about 3/4 of a lap to go when Don(JL Velo) came storming by. I had cut my speed down to make sure I made no mistakes and failed to notice him closing on me. I now had to kick it into high gear again and try to chase him down. We hit the pavement for the long finish straight and I gunned it. I started to close on him but ran out of real estate. Here is where it got funny. I thought I finished 3rd. Larry thought there was someone out in front of him and Don had no idea where he finished. I had people telling me I won. It turned out I was right and Larry took the win, Don was 2nd and I was third. I checked my Garmin stats later and saw the the average temp. during our race was 86 degrees.