Up until the Montrose Park race, the weather had been mild, if not downright nice. And, although I don’t really like playing in the mud as much as this guy, I was pretty much expecting to experience a range of fall conditions. Even the Lansing race, just three weeks ago, wasn’t all that cold. At Montrose, there was snow on the ground and it was (somewhat) cold.
I got there around noon, plenty of time to register, visit with friends and get in a practice lap after the women finished their race. It was a technical course, challenging and fun. This was also my first time racing in mud, so it was going to be interesting to see if I could keep the bike upright or if was going to be one wipeout after another. For a really good description of the course (with pictures) see Tristan Schouten’s blog. Jim also has a nice description of the course at his blog. Other blog reports of the race here, here, here (pics and video!) and here. This guy will have something soon. I'm sure there are plenty more. Feel free to put a link in the comments. Maybe I should have trained harder and blogged less..?
I spent most of the next hour warming up on the road, occasionally stopping to watch the race. With about 20 minutes to spare, I went back to the car, drank some water, dropped off my ski gloves and decided to keep my Lake 300 winter shoes on figuring that dry feet are more important than lighter shoes. I headed out to the start.
There were about 40 of us and I was right smack in the middle. There were the usual preliminaries and we were off. Right off the back someone bumps me and somehow we both stay upright, but it was a slow start for me. Well, slower than usual.
By the time the 4As raced, the course changed from icy and slippery to muddy and slippery. The turns around the trees were treacherous, but I managed to keep the bike upright the entire race. I love how you can get a cross bike sliding all over the place and still keep it upright if you just keep on peddling through it.
The first challenge was the double barrier at the base of Cricket hill. Running up, riding down and running back up this sledding hill killed me. The first run up it told me I wasn’t in any shape, running-wise, to be doing this hill more than one time. Each lap it got harder until the last lap it wasn’t a run up the hill so much as a trudge. Note to self…
Sometime during the first lap, I felt my saddle shift. It didn’t feel uncomfortable, but I was sitting pretty far back on it most of the race. At the end of the race, the saddle was pointing upwards at about a 30 degree angle. Turned out to be the end of the line for that saddle post as the teeth in the clamp had worn down. Anyway, I don’t think it affected my race much, except it may have contributed to me catching my tights on it on one remount. I didn’t fall, but it wasn’t pretty either.
The race went pretty well for me. I executed the dismounts, carries and remounts with some measure of confidence and grace. I pulled off a couple of passes in tight spots and generally rode smart, if not very aggressively. I didn’t have time to stick around for the race results so I’ll have to wait for them to be posted on the web site. I figure I came in somewhere around 30th.
For my first racing season, I happily achieved the following:
Finished all six Chicago Cyclocross Cup races.
Got at least 8 points as a Cat 4 (A group).
Met some quality people and had a ton of fun.
Some of those quality people caught me on digital film (either by accident or on purpose). Thank you Luke, Ed, Julie, Ben, Kristin, Carolyn, Brendan and anyone else who shot me.
For next year, I need to:
Polish my cross skills.
Work on strategy, power and fitness.
Take a few more risks in the turns.
Oh yeah. There’ll be a next year. Count on it.
I love this sport!