What a difference a year (and an upgrade to Cat 2). Last year as a Cat 3 I took 2nd place. This year, I just hoped to compete. When I've raced with out mechanicals I've done OK. That's been a rare occurrence. After racing last week I almost called it a season but hey, I needed to return my RFID so I may as well do it in person.
It was a dark and stormy night that had us hitting two separate parties. Lot's of fun but the short night of sleep on a few too many beers left me a little fuzzy Sunday morning. Maybe that's why when I showed up to register I not only couldn't find my race numbers but also the jersey they were pinned to. I rifled through my rig several times before calling my wife to see if she could find it lying on the floor somewhere....Yup....Great. I walked back over to registration and the crew was great. They just handed me a new number and linked to my RFID. Good to go....maybe.....What the hell am I going to pin them too. I had no jersey. I decided I'd where a base layer, arm warmers and my wind vest. If this were a road race I'd probably get tons of shit but at a cross race. No one will notice. I finally was able to get on the course. HOLY SHIT! This was not even close to the last two races we've had out here. The only somewhat fast section on the course was the start which led to a short, straight dirt section and then to a quick downhill section on pavement. The rest was tight and technical. Any other spot on the course that may have been somewhat fast was completely slowed down by copious amounts of deep ass mud. They craziest part of the course was this tape worm section that tightly wound its way in and the all the way back out. You didn't know if you were coming or going. By the end of my two warm up laps I decided I loved the course and was ready to go.
It rained on an off all morning but I think it stopped....maybe by the time we started. Off we went for 6o minutes of mud loving fun. We were going so slow during the first trip through the infield that we were actually having conversations. That ended pretty quick. It was so tight that no one was really getting away and by the end of the first lap I was still in contact.
The 2nd lap started and I was feeling great. I made the log section that you could ride over and had my first bobble. It was no big deal but a gap formed between me and the leaders. I forged on and all was good until I was almost to the finish. I rode through a hard sanded group of turns and heard a loud BANG!! Ha, ha, someone with clinchers just blew a tube.......A few seconds later I realized it was me. I've never had a tubie blow like that. I've rolled them and have had plenty of slow leaks but never a complete blowout. It wasn't completely flat.....yet so I pedaled my ass through the start/finish and onto the road. As soon as I hit the pavement the tire was completely flat and If I kept riding like the pavement I was going to hit the deck. My almost weekly question popped into my head....Should I quit or make the long ass run to the pits. Last race of the year.....I'm running. I got into stride and was soon passed by everyone and their mom and kids and dogs and....I was going to get DFL if again if I finished, Oh well. After what seemed forever I finally made it to the pits. I through my bike down, grabbed my backup (which should be my main) and headed back out. I had a blast after that. I was riding well and really only had a few small bobbles after that. I actually did catch a few guys and probably had the most fun I'd had all year. I knew I'd be DFL unless others met with the misfortunes I did. It ended up happening to quite a few guys. As the race wore on more guys were taking a wider line through many of the sections trying to find that last little bit of grass. Unfortunately there were a ton of blackberry bushes and the thorns were finding their way into many tires. (that is what happened to me). I finished and was happy with the race. My teammate Matt took the win!! Now it was time to take a little time off then start to get ready for the 2013 road season. Sean......OUT!!