The final race of the Cyclocross season for me looked like it was shaping up to be nice. It was 58 degrees, windy, and slight clouds. But there was a storm front coming. Forecasts, however, showed 40% chance of rain right about the time I would be racing. Eh, what’s a little mud? Pretty normal for ‘cross so who cares!
It’d been a LONG weekend… up at 3am Sat to get around and get my run in before I had to get the family up and going to ARRIVE at the kids first swim meet by 6:45am. Liz and I also had to volunteer, so we stood and did timing for the entire 4.5 hour swim meet. Some good, a nap, and off to haunted hike with Logan by 4pm. Back, got Erik, and returned for the “scary” version by 7. We got home about 9:45. In bed by 11. Wow. And back to the swim meet 6:45am again, but at least we were done by 10:30 Sunday. Some food, quick nap, and I packed up and headed out to the race.
Being that this is the day before Halloween this is one of my more favorite Cross races because people dress up. I had a Viking outfit complete with horns that my mother in law made for me which attached to my bike helmet! However, last time I wore it they all were cheering on the caveman… so whatever. Costume is costume!
I get there in plenty of time. Get my bib and get it attached. See Tracy, a lot tri friend, and find out her husband is racing and her kids already did. She’s 3 weeks out from Ironman Arizona so she’s WISELY hiding in the van!! LOL. Smart because at this point it is 45 degrees, 20-30mph winds, and RAINING. Ug.
I get out with the costume and gloves no jacket and find a good place to warmup. Do that for a while and return to the car for my jacket. The rain, mixed with the wicked winds, is taking the perceived temps well below freezing. I got my coat on and wished I had tights and thicker gloves. I brought jacket and gloves out of a last minute whim – glad I did. I was still cold with them, but it was annoying and not REALLY a problem.
I get lined up for the start… after wandering a while looking for it (the courses seem to be different every year, so even though I’ve done this one 2x before, it was nothing like prior years). The winds picked up something fierce as we were all standing around getting cold. They did the usual call outs (where you get to move up to the front to start because you’re in a top 10 position, wearing sponser jersey, or DRESSED UP!). So I got my call up and lined up. The rain really started coming down at this point. We REALLY wanted to go. I was starting to not be able to feel my legs. Time to start GOOOOOOOOING!
Here’s a video of the Cat1-3 and ladies. So you can see portions of the course and costumes. See around 1:15 for the section in the woods – just add MUD and RAIN and WIND to everything for the 4B race. It was dry for most of the day.
So they let us go finally!
The course had a bunch of flat stuff before the fun began. The rain subsided once we got going (or I stopped noticing so much!). Typical turns and such and a very early wreck. Those with slick tires were going to have it rough today and the first wreck took out maybe 30 people. Bad. I avoided it and went around. I started up the “steps” and picked a good line (for a change, I have traditionally done poorly here on this course!) but we were all bottlenecked up. I was joking with some of the guys telling them “HEY LOOK, we are doing BOTH Miles per Hour! Wheeeeeeeeeee!” – we were barely moving. Some more people ate bushes as it was slick and if you chose a bad line… well, you ate the bushes.
Up and over, I was climbing VERY strong, felt good, and heart rate was already spiked, as expected. Whatever, only 30min. Just GO. Big long flat section with some turns and then we get to the off-camber love fest. So “off camber” means “at an angle”. Rain on grass means “Slippery”. Combined they mean “You will Fall Down and Go Boom”. After about dropping the bike once I hopped off and ran this section. Passed maybe 10people. this was a waste to even try to ride, everyone was on the ground. I got passed by a chick in a frog suit.
After this was some more normal stuff, a descent with a sharp turn into uneven rocks – the guy ahead of me dumped it, so he was kind enough to show me what not to do. I made it and headed back uphill and around. I passed the frog lady.
Then we get to the crowd. You KNOW in a Cross race, if there are lots of spectators… it’s gonna be hard. They revel in the thrill of heckling and passing out treats (prior years were dollar bills, beer, pie, and candy corn). I enter the woods only to see this single trackish section weaving in and out with some steep small hills. I was up and “almost” over the first when someone gave me a push (this is not illegal… and is encouraged… by the crowds at least!) and I went over fast, down , around and up the next hill but…. off angle and I dumped it. I took out 2 spectators and the caution tape and the big stake they used to hold it up! Oh well, spectating can be dangerous in Cross! Here’s some videos of that section
I hopped back on and finished out the section. Down back into the wet-as-heck grass, around several steep off camber hairpin turns. Made the first one. Dumped the second one. The guy behind me ran half over me, he was too close. I ran the next 2 turns and he tried to ride them… and failed. Dumped it 2x more. I took the heckling that “this was a bike race”!.
Here’s a tutorial on “To Ride it or Run It”
Back on, past the cheering squad from Suburban Multisport and to the “finish” line…
finish of lap 1 that is… 13min. Wowza. However, due to the variety, my heart rate was only redline and not BEYOND redline like 2 weeks ago.
So back I went. Now the crowds were thinned so I had a few guys I was leapfrogging. Won’t go into detail on lap 2, mostly the same except more people down on the bike. Saw several guys running it – even when they could have ridden it. I’m guessing mechanical. Saw a kid who was racing down and out – had to yell at some spectators to MOVE THEIR AZZ AND GO HELP THE KID WHO IS DOWN HARD DAMMIT! I saw a spectator walking him back into the start – looked like maybe sprained ankle and possibly broken wrist/collarbone based on the way he was holding it. Hoping it’s not serious, poor little dude. He was one of a pair I saw 2 weeks ago. They both kicked my butt I think.
The wind cut out about 1/2 way through second lap, which was actually bad because them my glasses fogged (maybe a cold front came in?) because I couldn’t see for crap. Had to put ‘em on the bridge of my nose to see where I was going.
Once I hit the tree section I tried for a beer, failed. I tried for a Twizzler and SUCCESS! I took a pass on the cigarettes (really?) they were handing out.
Off to the finish… well, apparently they’d recently rung the bell, so they flagged me off and told me I was done. Oh well! Unlikely last time, I could have handily done another loop. But I was fine calling it quits. I couldn’t feel my fingers and toes.
SUPER fast cool down, back to the car, and headed home!
so there ends my short cross season. It’s time to focus on skill building for the 2012 tri season. I will get some mountain biking in until the snow/ice prevents that, but otherwise I’ll be in the pain cave for the next 6 months or so on the biking catching up on all the pop culture shows and movies I missed since April!