Did the drive to Elyria for the Cascade Park Cyclocross race. Fifth race of the NEOCX series. Somehow I'm on top of the 40+ series in eighth overall. Cool, though I need some better finishes to stay in the top 10.
Interesting course, we started riding up the sledding hill, then back down. A long road section to another short hill, and some nice twisty bits. Road section back through the start/finish to the other end of the park and a few more twists before returning to the sledding hill. That hill definitely was the entire race. Ridable, but a choice, and a lot chose to run it.
On my first warm up lap I didn't realize the road section took us all the way to the wooded section. So, when I rode it during the C race I followed to the far section, but was surprised to head up the short hill... so surprised, I broke my chain and nearly ripped off my rear der! I managed to roll it back to the truck... and contemplated calling it a day. A long drive for nothing... I didn't bring a spare chain, but still had the tool box with me. Crap! I used the large crescent wrench to straighten the deraileur hanger, and used a spare powerlink to repair the chain. Needless to say, I was not confident the bike would make it through the race.
Team Spin/RR Donnelly showed in force in the A race. Jason, Brent, Zak, Dave, Tom Humphrey and I lined up with another 15 or so. This is the first neocx race that did not have a count down, so it was tough for guys to get a jump on the gun. It was nice, the same way the UCI races ran in Cinci... Cool.
I did all right on the start, hit the hill about half way back and I committed to riding as much of the hill as I could until forced to dismount. I was not forced, so I rode the whole thing and (according to some FB photos) exited in about eighth place. Nice, oh! That means I need to COMPLETELY DRILL the rest of this to hold my position for as long as I can!
A few guys, including Dave, got around me before we hit the short up hill. Urgh! Get through the twisty bits as quickly as possible and GO HARD on the pavement again. I ended up in a group of 4 through the barriers on the first go. Managed to get to the twisty bits first on that end, and hit the hill for the second time.
I liked the gap I got the first time so much, I decided to ride the hill every lap. It was the strategy to use. I left my group behind, and my race was set.
PAIN! My place was sorted out in two laps. It would have been nice to stop here, but not the case. I could see 9th through 6th place ahead of me, with 11th and 12th close behind. Sprint, twist the technical stuff, sprint, twist, CLIMB. I managed the gap to 9th pretty well, and wondered how many laps we'd be doing. The guys behind me tended to run the hill, and I was opening the gap every lap. The gap in front was pretty pegged throughout the entire race.
As the laps went on, the road section showed the race ahead of me. First I saw Jason sitting in third. A couple laps later, Jason in third, Brent in fifth. A couple laps later, I'm in 10th, I can see 9th still in front of me, then on the road heading back, Zak sitting on the group that includes 8th.
I finally see the lap cards with 3 to go. Breath.... three more times up the hill. I'm pretty safe in 10th. I MUST continue to chase ninth, or I'll risk coasting and possibly loosing my top 10 placement to the next guy.
For some reason, I still decided to run the hill this time. Maybe to give my legs a little break? Use some different muscles? Cause I'm such a good runner? Um... not really the case anyway. That decision cost me time... at least 10 seconds, and maybe closer to 20. I hit the road, see the leaders, and now I'm thinking I may get lapped. Crap again!
Two to go. I HAVE to ride the hill, because this may be my last lap. As I'm heading in, that's becoming more certain. I'm caught after the first road section. I follow the leader through the twisty bits, but can't match the acceleration before the second road section. Still, I rolled it in for 10th place! That's one season goal made!
The race goals are
1.) not get lapped.
2.) a top 10 finish.
3.) Top 10 series overall placing.
OK, so I get my second goal the first time I miss my first goal. Go figure. Still, I was grateful I didn't have to do that last lap. I was the last guy passed, and held my spot. I don't think that lap would have helped or hurt my placing. Just hurt my body. Still I flopped to the ground after crossing the line.
Jason finished fourth, Brent was fifth, Zak finished seventh, and I was tenth. Pretty descent showing by the team. Nice work! So I finished slightly above the exact middle of the field. YAY!
Mehul caught lots of photos of the faces of pain on the sledding hill. It would have been nice to run a slightly lighter gear for that. Maybe I can figure out a way to put together a decent B bike with a double ring set up. Run the single 42 for flatter courses, and the double for hilly things? There are times a 46 would be nice on flats or downhills, with a 36 or 38 for climbing? I don't know the right gearing answer.
Recovery and costume design in order for next weekend. Another short course, without the hilly bits, so it's going to be work to hold my number 1 goal. Maybe I can pull out another number 2 or two.