Monday, November 28, 2016

Cyclocross Action - Time to Get Real

Finally, I had a moment to take a break this month for just plain old fun. Painful, nasty, messy fun.

The final race of the local cyclocross series was taking place and I had a free day. Of course being my first proper race it just had to be the worst kind of day, or in cyclocross world, an awesome day.

The temperature was freezing (as in zero), it was snowing, then raining, then snowing and the wind was extremely gusty. As the ground wasn't frozen due to the nice day we had the day before, that also meant the ground was actually muddy. But I had been waiting all season to finally get a chance to race and couldn't pass things up.

I had prepped my bike the night before, finally mounting my new Clement tires, and adding a little extra lube to the chain and pedals. When I awoke the next morning I knew I was in for a treat.

I arrived on site and was happy to see quite a few other racers. I paid my entry fee and got my bike and myself ready.  I took 2 practice laps and then headed back to the car for final prep. Soon we were all on the line to start.
There I am, way at the back

Soon we were off, though in cyclocross that isn't always as explosive as it sounds. We were on slush and snow and mud and going slightly uphill, so it took a bit to get the confusion going. Still I managed to get on and start riding and not get too caught up in others.

I passed a few riders initially and then settled into a pack.

And then the crappy thing happened. I stumbled getting off my bike due to a chain reaction back up and my chain came off. It only took a few second to get it back on, but I lost a few places I had worked to get. So back at it I went.

The rest of the race was circuits of the crazy muddy mess, which included quite a few dismounts for obstacles, or treacherous downhill corners. I passed a few more people, fell off once going around a corner, cut my leg (just a little) and generally couldn't breathe a lot.  The only thing I hated was that my pedals filled with snow and that froze to ice and I could get clipped in. So on the bumpy course it was hard to maintain total control and often I couldn't really pedal as hard as I wanted to.

Finally I passed the start finish line and was told, final lap. I pushed hard to pass a couple of more riders and finally brought it home. I manged to get 7 laps compared to the leaders 8 laps which was fine in my book. I finished 8th out of 13 in my age group and 35th our of 46 for men. It took me a little more than 50 minutes (45 minutes plus a lap) to complete the journey.

Then the aftermath!

Still smiling

That's why I couldn't clip in

It is amazing what a bucket of hot water will do to help this situation

So what a baptism by fire. I loved it and can't wait to get some more riding in soon and some racing next season. Many parts of me are tired and sore now, but it was totally worth it.