By the third day of racing, I was pretty tired. Still, one more big race and then plenty of time to rest.
Harbin Park is the oldest Cyclocross race around. This course had less climbing than in the past, but still not a flat venue. The start almost immediately dumps you into a pair of off camber sections, then a long climbing sections snaking around a field to the finish. An uphill sand pit, with more twisty climbs and some downhills, with one run up (barrier forces the dismount) before the downhill sand pit. Snake around to the screaming downhill, rise into the woods, before twisting back to the off camber sections.
Even with the rain on Saturday, the course was pretty dry. The downhill and the woods were a little greasy, but not real bad, and there was only a 20m section that could be really considered muddy. I decided to run 28psi in the tires to split the difference between Friday and Saturday.
I had a fourth row start again, with the plan to just get through the off camber sections and then go for broke. I got a good start, and through the off-cambers in about 20th place. Climbing reasonably, though others were passing me. I rode the uphill sand even with the runners, and then pulled away as they remounted. I was fine until the run up, when I had some serious leg pain getting over the TALL barriers. On the bike it was fine, off the bike it was not, so the goal was to run as little as possible.
The race was going fine, I wasn't going to win, but I was holding somewhere in the top 30 places or so, when I hit the off cambers at the end of lap 2, and I rolled the rear tire. I did not go down, the bike just stopped. Off the bike, roll the tire back into place, and remount for the ride to the pits. I did not have far to go, but I did have to run the second off camber section so I didn't roll the tire again.
Into the pits, I first had to find my spare wheels, then swap it out.... it took forever, and I was loosing places like crazy. I got a push back onto the course as I was shifting back to the correct gear, and again off in pursuit of places.
I was pretty much at the back of the field by this point, and I made back four or five places pretty quickly. Then into the hard slog to get over some big gaps. I should have had 3 laps to work, and made about three more. I caught a group of three heading into the finish, and got around one and was going for the other two as the officials pulled us all. I guess we were about a minute and a half in front of the leaders coming through and they didn't want to have us clogging the course for another 8 minutes or so. Scheduling and all.
Disappointed with 54th overall, 29th for the age group. I figure without the rolled tire, I'd have come in the top 20 in the age group. There was a large "group" that finished between 52 and 54 minutes that I think I would have been in (based on who I was chasing at the time). Overall, I'll mark the two "not best" days with the one good day as a learning experience. In the past my days have gone similar but for fitness reasons, this year it was equipment choice/setup reasons. Looking forward to next year.
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