Got to dip my feet back in the proverbial pool this weekend. While I have been getting some riding in over the past 7 months, I haven't done any racing, training or hard efforts. Nonetheless I can't complain about my results. I was mostly able to ride steady, but had no punch or ability to ride in the red zone. The bottom line is you cannot effectively race CX unless you are doing lots of short very hard efforts in training.
First off, it was awesome to see everyone from the local CX scene. I don't think I've seen nearly anyone for about a year. Thanks to all those cheering me on during the races.
360 Cup - Saturday
This race was at Stump Park, on the hilly, north side of the park. The main feature of the course was a moderate uphill stretch probably 300-500 meters long. My initial strategy was to try to pace my effort out for the whole race because I figured going too hard in the early part of the race would mean running out of gas at the end.
I got off the line okay, but I didn't get right into my pedal (no practice). I was in a pretty decent spot, 5th to 10th, until the first gully turn. Shadd rolled a front tire in this corner and there was some chaos as everyone tried to get around. I didn't get by cleanly and found myself back a number of spots. I didn't panic and just tried to figure out a rhythm for the course. I resolved to push the hill hard and cruise the curvy section across the top of the course. Later on in the race I found it easiest to push the flat sections hard, ride the hill steady, and cruise the technical parts.
At first I battled with Nate Woodman and then caught Adam Mills wheel. I couldn't really hold his punchy pace and had to settle into my own rhythm. After a couple laps the race was more or less laid out, Joe was leading and riding away, followed by Andrew, Mark Savery, Adam, me, and Nate. Through the mid-part of the race, the gaps between the chasers started to grow. At some point it looked like Shadd was going to make it back up to me, but then I didn't see him anymore.
I felt like I was holding my pace fairly well because I was more or less holding steady with the guys in front of me and seemed to be riding away from those behind. In fact, with 2 or 3 to go the gaps to Andrew, Mark and Adam had gotten pretty small. Mark and Adam were dueling for third and ultimately Adam won out. The battle must have blown Mark, because I caught him and basically just went by him without a fight. He later told me he was having an off day from a skills standpoint and more or less resolved to ride it in.
That was pretty much it. I rolled in for 4th. Not a tactically interesting race, basically just man vs. course. Thanks to 360 Racing for putting it on and all the officials and volunteers!
Boulevard Cup - Sunday
Good course---had a little bit of everything. All good course have some sand and some tricky corners. Even better with a steep downhill, into a turn, into a run up! Props to the course designers. Based on Saturday, I figured today would be a good course for me. I ended up being weaker on the hill and stronger on the flats yesterday, today was all flat.
I started from the second row and was pretty far back after the start. Over the first lap I moved a up some spots, but tried to do it without blowing a gasket. I rode a bit with JP Brocket and finally moved my way up to Adam Mills. We were sitting 4th and 5th, with Joe out front and Mark Savery and Colton Jarisch together battling for 2nd/3rd.
Yesterday Adam rode away from me without much of a fight. Today, given the flatter course I figured I'd have to be a little clever to get away from him. I hoped that if I was able to get a small gap I'd be able to maintain it. We traded off work for a lap or two while I figured out my best plan of attack. I was thinking this duel was my "race" because Colton and Mark seemed to be out of reach. Adam had been leading in the curvy section and I found myself soft-pedaling a little bit, so I resolved to lead through and see if I could get my gap. I did and I hit the flats hard to make him work hard to close it up. In talking with him afterwards, he thought the gap was so small he'd have no trouble closing it up. Needless to say, small gaps in 'cross are like big gaps on the road. That small gap meant he was getting no rest and it turned into a drag race. I got the better of it today and gradually stretched it out and locked down 4th. The rest of the way was man vs. course again. I did keep Mark and Colton honest and kept the gap in the 12-15 sec range the rest of the way. Just didn't have juice to punch across that gap.
Two 4ths, no complaints.
Don't know when I'll be back in town, but who knows maybe I'll get another race in before the end of the year.
Headed out Tuesday for a whirlwind tour of the east coast: Columbus, Philly, DC, Durham, Orlando, San Juan, back through town on the way to Boulder for a week, and back before Christmas.
A rolling stone gathers no moss.