Great day for cyclocross! It was raining for most of the night and morning before the race, setting the stage for slippery and muddy conditions. It was probably about 40 degrees for the 1pm start. The race preceding ours, combined with the continuing rain, tore up the grass and churned up the mud for the Open race.
We rode up the bricks for the start with Shadd and Brian leading on to the grass, while I sat in third. The first grassy section was a left then a right on a slight uphill to the pit. Right away Shadd started to pull away so I moved by Brian after the second turn at the wheel pit. The next section was cool with a slow-speed, muddy, slippery, left-then-right turn combination. This was followed by a gradual fast-but-straight downhill section. I was within a few seconds of Shadd here and it looked like a gap was developing behind me.
After the downhill there was a tricky high-speed right-hander. I had tested this turn during the pre-ride and it could be ridden without brakes if you got the line right. This turn was followed by a slimy mild uphill and a few sharp 180+ degree turns. The next section was defined by downhill right-hand turn followed by a sweeping left. This was tricky, but again could be ridden without brakes and pretty fast if the line was right.
Following this was a tricky little muddy kick-up and then a tractionless short gradual uphill section. This ended up being my trouble spot for the day. I bobbled the kick-up half the time and just couldn't get much traction on the following uphill. Probably needed to run a couple PSI lower in the rear tire.
As for tires, I ran the Maxxis Mudwrestlers, which were great. I was railing the corners fast and smooth. I ran 30/35 and this seemed to work for the most part. Only my lack of confidence and skill kept me from finding the limit of their capabilities.
By the time Shadd and I hit the run up on the first lap it looked like we had a big gap, 30+ seconds. We were both more than a little surprised at how big it was so quick. The rest of the course was fairly straightforward, with the exception of the thicker muddy section along the pond on the low side of the course. I rode the left tape every time and didn't have any major problems getting through each lap.
Shadd had more horsepower than me today and was able to pull away from me, but the technical portions of the course allowed me to keep him close. I would yo-yo, from right on his wheel to 5-10 seconds back, throughout the race. Late in the last lap, Shadd fell and I came back up to his wheel and passed him briefly. But, I had no intention of taking advantage of his fall after he had led most of the race and had the stronger legs. So, Shadd took the win and I was second. Brian managed to move up through the field to take 3rd and Scott Dunsmuir got 4th (not 12th?!).
Thanks to everyone who made this race happen, especially whoever cleaned up the men's shower room afterwards. I am pretty sure we didn't "leave it in the condition we found it" like the sign directed.
The end of a full week of bike-related activities: Thursday - KCCX/VERGE Fundraiser, Saturday AM - 3hr MTB Ride; Saturday PM - KC Sprints; Sunday - Cyclocross.