I love doing this race because it is close, easy, and early in the Cyclocross season. Good starter race of the season, so it’s practice, which is good because to date this year I have put in zero Cyclocross specific training time – so I’m basically winging it. It’s all good.
Today was going to be interesting due to 2 days of rain. We need the rain, but I knew it would make the course extra muddy. I’m in Cat 4b and we ride last. 3:30pm start. I can never get used to such a late start so I worked hard at it today… slept in… (until 7) then worked… cleaned…worked…cleaned… napped… worked… cleaned… finally started to stretch and get ready.
Radar showed a nice storm system coming to visit too.. should hit about the time of the race. Nice.
So I leave and not 5 minutes into my ride my phone goes INSANE – there’s a tornado warning. Crap. Son1 is at an activity and is due to be picked up shortly. Son2 is at home and is not a fan of severe storms. Even though the Cyclocross people are a nutty group, I’m sure they won’t race in a Tornado.
So I call home and we determine I should go get Son1 and she’ll alert the group he’s with of the warning. Within minutes I can suddenly not even see 25feet. Wind, Rain, Debris. WOW.
I get to where Son1 is and get him and get him home. Just in time for everything to calm down to just normal race. *sigh*
I check and racers have indeed been pulled from the course and they’ll announce later if they continue or shut down for the day. So I sit and wait and watch Facebook (thank goodness one of my virtual friends was there already and posted some updates).
YES! They are continuing… but NO! They cancelled the race they pulled guys of the course. Which means I now have BARELY enough time to get there and sign in.
I race over there, put my Tornado Cyclocross Game Face on
And get signed in. Thank goodness I know the organizers, otherwise I would have been too late. Phew!
I warm up, meet up with some local peeps (Tony from Elgin Blue Waves and Tomasz + daughter from Prairie Dogs Multisport Club) and meet a few of the virtual ones (Jon and Bob from the mountain bike group). Warm up and stretch. Check out of the course. OMG. It looks like everything has been torn to SHREDS
We get lined up, they start calling off names. It’s cool out and super windy – 20mph+. My name gets called, up I go. It’s starts to lightly rain. They keep calling names… rain intensity increases. When it’s time to start – the winds have picked up and the rain is coming down – or rather it’s going all over the place. Mostly sideways.
Horn goes off and we’re off! I quickly dominate the field… from behind. The first half of the first lap is always chaos until the field stretches out. So they have a flat section on grass, some hairpins, and then the hill. Now, this course is a “mild” one compared to most. In this instance we have a hairpin in which the apex is on a 60 degree slant. That takes out a few guys. Another hairpin and then we ride sideways on the same hill. That takes out several more guys (remember it’s raining? We’re on grass and now MUD). Another hairpin and back uphill.
This is where it starts to get tricky, it was a truly evil (and brilliant) design. Uphill, then all you have to do is get around this tree. So you go to the left of it, which is about a 75 degree camber, which is entirely mud. Anyone trying to ride it, went down. Anyone trying to run it, went down. Almost everyone walking it, went down. The crowds were, naturally, at this point screaming, jeering, cheering, and generally whooping it up. Yes, Cyclocross has people cheering on in 30 mph+ winds (oh, with 44 mph gusts I find out later) in the pouring rain. Encouraging and then heckling your every fall. Good times! Well, I watched the prior race and your best chances were to run the bike down LOW and then up the hill, or take the VERY top and carrying the bike. But the top was super crowded. I took the low route and managed to get up without a fall, running with the bike.
Then you go between two trees and an immediate left and straight down a steep short muddy hill. Most who rode it fell. I ran it.
Back on the bike we got to ride the path for a breather. A good 20s worth. Because I this point I’m unable to breathe and I’m pretty sure I’m going to die. Apparently I didn’t so I kept riding. More grassy hairpins, a couple barriers you have to dismount and carry your bike, over a tiny creek, and finally back on road. Another rest spot… a whole 20 yds worth. Oh, with people screaming to MOVE YOUR A$$ THERE IS NO RESTING IN CROSS! ROFL
Ok… the farm. Yeah, last year this was NUTS (see race report, friggin hilarious). This year was basically a mud bath. Because of all the rain the mud was 4-6inches deep for a long track – 50yds maybe? It was impossible to ride. I made it maybe 10ft before my wheels were just spinning out constantly, not to mention spending serious energy just trying to not fall down. So off I go. At first I push the bike – which is dumb – and I heard Tracy scream CARRY IT!!!! (Thank you Tracy!) I grab the bike and start running. In the mud. Fun! There were a couple of mounds of dirt, which had I been riding would have been fun, but since I was carrying this freaking bike on my back, were just a pain in the … legs.
Another 50 yds until pavement. Several guys thinking they could ride it – hahaha that was funny, many more people eating a mud pie. Off to the pavement and back into the grass.
At this point, however, my sunglasses (to protect against the rain and mud chunks) were completely useless, so I put them in my teeth and kept going.
The rest of the loop was pretty standard stuff. Mostly flat, mostly grass, some obstacles to run over, a creek to hop over, and rain just coming down in buckets. Saw Tomasz and his daughter cheering me on! She was so cute, her first cross race to spectate (and probably last!) and a gal dressed up like this
I tossed my glasses near my car and finished the lap.
One lap done. 13min. OMG. I have to do this AGAIN?!?! Crap! I’ll spare you the play by play – it was pretty much the same all over. At the end of the second lap I got lapped by the top 3, which was sweet mercy – because there was no expectation I needed to continue. Race was 3 laps or 30min.
Cross is fun. Cross is hard. It’s 30min of Z5 heart rate, but it’s a blast. I averaged 172 HR and I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen those numbers for that long on the bike. That’s about my 5k run heart rate and the bike should be about 10 less! So I gave it everything I had, had a good time, mission accomplished.
My hope is to get 1-2 more cross races in this season before I hang the cross bike for the winter… we’ll see. Work schedule may not allow it, which is fine. This is a diversion activity for me – an excuse to keep racing and riding later into the fall. If I were to take this seriously, I’d need to modify my training. Well, actually, I think it would better to say “I NEED TO TRAIN” for this stuff. It requires some very specific skills and coming from a triathlon background, they’re not the same.