Monday, January 6, 2014

The Race That Should Technically be Called "Elevation Adjustment" Cross

Did my first cross race since the beginning of November over the weekend.  I figured that, since I was racing Nationals, I should have something in my legs other than long rides in the mountains on my singlespeed.  Mother Nature also allowed me to tick a box off my bucket list: race cross in the snow.  Now, let me clarify.  I've raced cross while it was snowing before (Rockville Bridge Cross in 2008 or something), but I have never lined up for a race with six inches of snow on the ground and more falling out of the sky.

Keep vest on as long as possible
It was pretty cool.  The venue, while not very exciting, made good use of their hill sides, putting a bunch of 180s of various size on them to add some turns to an otherwise, drive-your-bike-straight-through-the-snowpack race.  The previous fields had worn a nice singletrack-width line in the track which, as long as you didn't stray from it, provided very good traction.  It was like railing a nice singletrack on a soccer field.  The first day I got a second row call up.  I'm always surprised when I get call ups out here.  I feel like I've only cracked the top 50% a few times, so why should I be in the second row?  I don't know how they work it here, as I'm currently ranked 87th in the BCR Cross standings.  Maybe they do it all by reg order, or by whose bike is the most red... Either way, I've gotten call ups, by name, at a bunch of races this year.  I only wish I had the legs to do them justice.  I don't think I'm going any slower than everyone in the corners, or even on climbs anymore, but any flat sections I just get gaped.  Anyway...

On Saturday I pulled a solid DFL, but I always have fun racing cross, and this time was no different.  I don't have the fitness to "race" Nationals on Wednesday, but I'm going to anyway because I like racing at Valmont and I love racing at Nationals (of any kind).
These snow-covered road sections were the sketchiest part of the course.

I probably could have ridden this but, but it felt faster to run.

The most pro I've looked all season?
Sunday's race was a bit of a different animal.  Same venue, and same course, but in the opposite direction.  The old Mercer Cup switcharoo.  I think it actually made the course more fun, although that may have been the ten degree colder temperatures and the lack of consistent snowfall (high on Saturday: 18F, high on Sunday 9F).   Everything felt even more grippy on Sunday.  There were only 6 racers in the U35 Cat. 3s, so they started us with the 35+ Cat. 3, making for a total field of 15.  People must have been severely dissuaded by the cold.  All in all, I ended up 4th, which is as close to the podium of a cross race as I've been since the last Iron Cross Lite.  I felt pretty good, even though I was 2+ min out of 3rd place.  Old me would have said "bah, there were only 6 racers, 4th isn't that great."  New me says "4th is 4th whether there are 6 of 126 racers;" I'll take whatever ego boost I can get.

Since Jonathan Page decided to show up on Sunday, I decided that I should watch his first race in the US in a few months, so I stood around the Oskar Blues beer tent, drank tasty beers and watch the fast guys and gals.  It was a cool preview of Nationals, and Driscoll was on fire.  I'd also like to tip my hat to Page.  Once he had lost contact with the Raliegh guys (Krughoff and Driscoll) after a few bobbles and crashes and had third place locked up from an ever-charging Justin Lindine, he chilled out and thanked the folks in the beer tent for coming out and cheering the last two laps.  I don't think I've ever seen an top end elite racer do that; I'll definitely be cheering loudly for him next Sunday.
Gould rolling with a ton of daylight behind her.

Page all decked out in his American flag for at least another 6 days.

Honey Badger.

Driscoll with the W.
Racing in two races at Nationals on Wednesday: Non-Championship 10-29 (i.e. I'm going to get beat by a bunch of Juniors), and the SS open (i.e. I'm going to get beat by a bunch of pros).  It should be good fun.  The Race Predictor has me in 43rd and 93rd respectively, so my real race is against that.

1 comment:

Fatmarc Vanderbacon said...

great post Jake and congrats on the 4th.. I tend to take your philosophy on finishes...