This is my third year racing cross and I've been out of town the last two years for this race. I was really exited to finally get to race it. With my bike fixed....again, I set out to face the urban monster. As I walked over to register I could tell that there were way more racers and fans here than I'd seen all year. This was going to be fun. While walking over I saw Tyler Farrar coming my way. Cool, he will be racing at the same time as me!!
I took a couple laps on the course with Todd Anderson and he said it was no where near as muddy as last year. I was digging the course, not only for the layout but also for this weird, almost surreal feeling that is hard to describe, like I wasn't really on a race course but on an amusement park ride or something. Maybe it was the Christmas theme complete with a snow making machine and angry metal tunes that the Hoodolla crew had setup on the course. I don't know but I had a big ass grin on my face when I was done warming up.
The race started on a grass section high up in the middle of the park. It was a super fast start and I was able to get up near the front. We wound our way through the park and I was having a blast. The course was lined with hundreds of fans. I'm guessing it the normal crew of family, friends and other racers along with random people that happened to be in the park or the fact that Tyler was racing and everyone wanted to get a close up look at America's premier sprinter. I don't know but it didn't feel like I was racing, I was having too much fun. The highlight of this course was the crazy run/ride up. I'm not sure if it was the same for every race but for the 1/2 fields it was a leg buster. You could ride up the first section. It was a choice, sometimes. I was able to ride it the first time through. After that there was a short downhill section and then another crazy uphill sections that had multiple logs and barriers. This is where the professional hecklers staked their claim. The yelling was so loud it felt like I was at a Seahawks game. Oh yeah, I'm in a race. I gunned up the next climb and was feeling awesome. Thing were looking good....Did I just say that??? Dumb ass!
I was on the second lap and not far off the front when I reached the section near the tennis courts...yes, about as far away from the pits as you can get. I was behind two riders and won of them went down in the sweeping, muddy turn right in front of me. I almost avoided him but did make contact with his bike as I went by....No big deal, except that contact completely destroyed my rear derailleur. Things like that happen all the time in cross races and it never usually amounts to much more than a muddy kit. It seems like this year a bee could fart next to me and something on my bike would get destroyed.
I was about as far away from the pits as one could get. There was no reason NOT to pack it in except I'd been having a blast racing this one. I knew that unless there were some DNF's or others with mechanicals after me, I would finish DFL. I didn't care. I decided to start the long jog to the pits and, a long as jog it was. I've never been heckled more in my life. All I could do was smile and have fun with it. I even took my first ever beer hand up at the top of the Run up. I got a lot of cheers for that. It took for ever. I got passed by most of the Elite 1/2 guys and by the time I made it to the pits the first few 1/2 35+ guys had caught me.
I grabbed my pit bike and set and headed back out. I still went hard but had no reason to take any unnecessary risk. I made it to the finish and I actually had a smile on my face. Even though it was a shitty day for me, it was still fun and...... I soon found out that my teammate Nikos had one the race and I didn't end up DFL. Others had misfortunes out there as well. I was ready to make my weekly trip to the shop for a another bike part. I think I'm replacing the Force with Rival this time.