There were many ways I could have spent the cold, rainy Sunday. Fighting crowds at the mall. Hiking to the farthest end of the tree farm to find "The one". Sitting my ass on the couch and watch the Seahawks lose. I chose to head to Monroe for a little Sunday worship at the "Church of Cross!" What a way to end the 2011 Seattle Cyclocross Series! Copious amounts of rain, mud, sand with an added bonus of free beer and brats and chili!!
We arrived at the Monroe Fairgrounds at 11:00 and the weather was worse than what you'd expect for early November. It was pouring and the wind was blowing pretty hard. After registering I jumped on the bike and headed out for a couple of recon laps. This course had everything! Flat, fast gravel roads and grass sections, some tight. It had something for everyone.....I think. I was looking forward to the battle ahead. The first time through I tried riding the whole switchback section but had to dismount while climbing back up to the top. The next time through I ran the whole section. I wasn't sure how I'd approach it during the race but figured I would just go with the flow and decide based on the situation. I was almost done with my second warm up lap when I noticed something wasn't right. I jumped of the bike to do a quick inspection. To my dismay I soon found out I had rolled my rear tubie....Shit!! I made a b-line back to my rig to swap out my wheels. It sucked but at least it happened before the actual race.
We staged just before 1:30 but for some reason we were delayed for over 15 minutes. Any warmth I had was quickly lost. We finally got going I had another great start.
By the time things got sorted out I was sitting third behind Chris(Audi) and Brian(Stanley) and things were looking good. Chris seemed pretty amped before the race and I could tell he was going to have a good day. He set a hard pace and really got the field strung out early. There were a couple of sections on the course that would provide plenty of heckler fodder. The first was the off camber switchback section. After a really tight right hand turn you found yourself tight roping a short single track at the top of the hill. If you got caught behind slower riders here you could loose valuable time. There was really no room to pass. Chris was the first to reach this section and he dismounted early and ran it. Brian decided to ride it. Hmmmmm. What to do?? I decided to ride it.
I remounted at the top of the hill and had no problem negotiating the rest of the maze. I think it was somewhere around here where Todd(Collision One), our series leader, made a move to get by me. Soon after we had our run-up. It was short, steep and muddy as hell. It had developed steps during earlier races but it was still tough going. After a short downhill section with large tire puncturing rocks the course gave us our next (to me at least) tough section. The transition into it was via another really tight, single track right turn with no way to pass. This is where all the deep ass mud on the course was located. If you didn't lose your momentum, the first section wasn't too bad but at the end you had to negotiate a hard right hairpin. I was forced to the outside and I soon found out that this is where you DON'T want to be. The mud was super deep and after a few tough pedal strokes I came to a complete stop. I had to dismount and run the rest of the way, praying I wouldn't lose a shoe. I didn't drop any spots but I think the panic sent my heart rate up and I had a few bobbles through the winding sand section. I made it over the barriers and into the start of lap two still in 4th place.
Lap two was one I'd like to forget. The first section went fine and I was actually able to make up some of the ground I'd lost and got back in the mix. I neared the off camber switchback section with a slower rider from the single speed field right in front of me. I yelled that I was coming by on his left but he didn't give way. I really needed to get around him but there was no place to go. Just as he started downhill he bit the dust(read: ate mud) and I had no place to go. I made a split second decision to bail off my bike. My momentum sent me tumbling down the hill sans bike. I had to hike up a few yards to retrieve it. It was lying in an awkward position and it took me a few seconds to gain control. This provided plenty of heckler fodder. A couple of guys made it by me during this circus act. I got back on but I think lost a bit of focus. I was loosing traction in sections I should be able to handle and during the deep mud section took the same line I did on lap one.....Start running Forest!
Lap three started and I had no idea what place I was in. I could see a few guys in front of me but could not see Brian, Chris or Todd anymore.
I started playing it a little too safe and a few others passed me. Things were not going well. I was riding like I was on a warm up lap. I wasn't making any mistakes but I also wasn't setting lap records. Pretty soon Steven(Old Town), Mark(Audi), David(Mafia), Matt(20/20 Fuel) and Art(Corpore Sano/Viking) all passed me. I was moving backwards fast. When is this going to be over?
I don't know exactly when it happened but somewhere during lap 4(2nd to last lap) I snapped out of my funk and started racing again. I had no real chance of winning but I decided to make the remaining two laps count. I was riding super aggressive and slowly stated overtaking the guys that had passed me. Lap 4 ended well and I was ready a one lap super sufferfest.
I geared up, jumped out of the saddle and sprinted as hard as I could down the start/finish straightaway. I made it by all that had passed me on lap three except Steve and Mark. I got on Mark's wheel and was ready to overtake him when we reached the switchbacks for the last time. A gal from the Cat 3 field was right in front of us and didn't move over to let us pass. I think she panicked when we got on here and lost it as soon as she started downhill. Both Mark and I had to dismount to get around her.(No muddy cartwheels this time)
I was able to get on his wheel again and we battled the rest of the way. I thought I was going to overtake him but he had a better line though the last mud section and made it to the finish just in front of me. I had no idea where I finished and was happy that I didn't give up and finished strong. It's amazing what one bad lap in these conditions can do to you.
I found out I ended up 7th and was actually surprised and quite happy. When the final series standings were posted there was no surprise that Todd was on top after winning the day but Don(JL Velo) finished 2nd with 569 points, Chris(Audi) 3rd with 568 and I finished 4th with 567. Are you kidding me! The three of us finished that close after seven races. Wow!! Congrats to Todd for taking it all. It was time to hose off...literally and hook up with everyone for free beers and brats. Thanks SCX for another great season!!
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