Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Santa Cross

Two weeks ago, Mudslinger hosted a cycle cross race in Corvallis, Santa Cross.  As far as I know, it's the first CX race in Corvallis in years (not that I'm really in the know).  I figured I'd give it a shot - it was just on the other side of town, and only 30 minutes of riding.  I even signed up for two races (back to back) - beginners and clydesdale.

I invited Mom and Dad down, and Sam came too, and of course Mary and Simone were there to cheer me on.  One nice thing about CX races over my more standard XC races is that they're more spectator friendly.  The course for this one happened to look like a snake that had coiled upon itself many times, and there was really no open space in between the lanes - just barely enough in a couple places for spectators to stand.

It'd been raining for a solid week, and the course was under the trees that looked like an old Christmas tree farm (very close together), so there wasn't any grass, just pine needles holding the floor together.  The course turned pretty muddy by the middle of the second race, I've no idea what it was like after an entire day of racing.

The course was super zig-zaggy, and pretty dark under the trees - I had considered bringing my headlamp and kind of wished I'd had it.  Luckily there were no real obstacles (other than the trees), so other than the geek factor, it wasn't really necessary.

I psyched myself up pretty good for the first race, the beginner men, and made sure I was in the first few people at the start - positioning really is everything in these tight and fast races.  I tucked in behind a guy wearing knee high striped socks and hung onto his wheel.  We passed a few people and were near the front of it all.  Another guy came up from behind and was racing with us as we passed the last person in front, and it was just the three of us - but they slowly pulled ahead.  I pushed hard, but never caught them - and I finished in third, well ahead of the remaining pack.

I stood there panting and wheezing, confirming with a guy at the finish line that I was in the next race.

I pedaled down to the start line, sucked down some water, ate a sausage/rice/egg bar, and chatted with Jason (a friend on Team Dirt) who was racing in the Cat C race.  The organizers made all the Clydesdales start at the back of the pack (weightism!!!!), and they started the race.  I realized just seconds before the start that I hadn't reset my Garmin (gotta Strava).

I realized I was a bit winded and decided to not worry terribly about the start - especially since they forced us to be at the back of the pack.  I took my time pedaling up to the barriers since I knew everything would bottle-neck right there.  Sure enough, I caught up to everyone and hadn't lost any time.

I slowly picked off the (5) Clydesdales and worked my way up the pack.  It was a bit confusing as the two categories were together.  I could tell one of the Clydes was serious about racing (I recognized him from Pickett's Charge) and he was my only serious competition.  I had passed him going over the barrier on the 2nd lap, and was ahead of him for a while, but couldn't manage to gap him.  I came up on a slower guy from the Cat C and remember thinking, "I gotta pass this guy" - but I wasn't aggressive enough and remained content to sit on his wheel.  He was a pretty good obstacle, almost as fast as me, and had I been able to put him between me and Mr. Yellow, I might have stood a chance.  But... one one particular curvy point, we got jumbled up and Mr. Yellow and another guy passed me and got behind Mr. Slow, and then they passed him, and I didn't.  A gap opened up and even though I passed Mr. Slow, I wasn't able to bridge the gap.  I finished probably about 30 seconds behind Mr. Yellow to come in 2nd place.

I was happy with the two races, they were fun, and I learned a little.  And, it was definitely a better showing than my first CX race a year ago where my chain fell off 10 times.  I had no mechanical issues whatsoever.  Yay singlespeed!

After all this, we went to Les Caves for brunch and chowed down on some tasty grub.  I hope to do the race again next year.

Dark under the trees, but plenty of bright white tape kept you from going the wrong way.

Navigating a corner, with Mr. Yellow chasing.

Barriers on a muddy uphill section, not much fun.

My form is not to be copied, not if you want to win.

I am but a blur.

Simone is ready to ride.

At brunch, happy to be sitting down (and together).

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