So, feeling good about how I had been doing on the bike I decided that doing a local Cyclocross race wouldn’t be a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I still had fun, it just didn’t go my way. Here is what happened.
I had been looking for a smaller local event to ride in just to try and ‘tune up’ some of my bike handling skills and see how well I could do. I found out that the Moosecross Cyclocross Race was going to happen despite stories and questions about whether or not it would actually get put on this year. I was still in the middle of harvest so the Saturday race was out but Sunday was wide open. The forecast for Sunday wasn’t great, but hey, it’s ‘cross season. Bad weather is part of the game right. So, I decided that I was going to ride it one way or another.
I woke up Sunday to a couple inches of snow. I thought in my head “this is ‘cross” and got ready to head out anyways. The roads were kind of crappy the whole way there because from where I live to where the race was the weather typically only gets worse. I arrived a little before the ‘B’ category was starting so I took that time to get registered, get my bike out and ready, and then settled in to watch the race.
It was cold. The ‘B’ guys and gals all lined up, falling snow, mud, ice, and all. With a shout they were off. I watched with the guys doing the timing and lap counts and helped out, all the while watching these people freeze their butts off. People were swinging their hands down the straight sections trying to force blood back into their extremities. I think the temperature was right around 30-31 degrees, so it wasn’t that cold but at speed, with a little water and mud splashed on you, it sure felt that cold. I watched the duration of the race since mine wasn’t supposed to start until an hour had passed from the finish of the ‘B’ race. I was going to use that time to warm myself back up in my car and then do an actual warm up.
So the ‘B’ race finished and everyone seemed very happy to be done. The winner was very fast, probably shouldn’t have raced the ‘B’ category in all honesty but that’s what self selection get you I suppose. I made my way to my car and started it so I could warm up myself before I started to warm up my legs. I hadn’t been on the course yet so I figured I would do a lap or two, maybe the first to see what was what and then the second to get my blood flowing. After the first lap I was already covered in mud. It had warmed up to just over freezing, so now the course was slicker and wetter than it had been for the ‘B’ race. I decided that riding more wasn’t going to benefit me at all so I changed the pressure in my tires a little and then got back into my car to keep warm until I needed to line up.
So the time for the race came and turnout wasn’t great. I don’t know if it’s because the race almost didn’t happen, if it was because it was a Sunday, or if the weather had turned everyone off, but there were only five entrants, myself included, into the ‘A’ race. My goal was to just go out and have a decent race, I wasn’t aiming for the podium or anything. I was just, more or less, wanting to use this race as a “skills development” tool for getting ready to race more cyclocross. The start shout came, I promptly missed clipping in with my foot, and everyone was off in front of me.
“Whatever”, I thought. If I am in good enough shape I’ll catch them soon enough. And that was my dominant mindset, right up until I hit the dirt. I was zooming around a left hand turn when it felt like someone just straight up yanked my wheels out from under me. I hit the ground. Hard. Not even halfway through the first lap! Two weeks later I am still feeling the effects of hitting the ground that time. I stood back up and grabbed the bike and tried kicking it in the ass again. I made about half a lap and then the same thing happened, on the right side this time. At this point I was thoroughly annoyed and borderline pissed off. I was in better shape than my laps were showing. My left wrist was throbbing (and aches even as I type this). My left knee was hurting with every pedal stroke and I was ready to just throw in the towel. Then, I remembered rule 5 and just kept going. I was going to hurt whether I was on the bike or not and at the least I was going to get a decent workout from the race.
I pushed through to the end, albeit much more carefully around turns so I wouldn’t spend more time on the ground. That approach only got me on the ground one more time for a total of three wrecks. Eventually I crossed the finish line. My body was not very happy with me which was fine because I was not very happy with my body either. I was cold, muddy, wet, and quite sore. I decided to chalk it all up to a decent workout with some valuable learning thrown in and made my way to my car after I chit chatted with the other guys that raced. After changing out of my super muddy clothing I loaded up the bike and made my way over to the local bike shop that sponsored the race and was giving racers a free cup of coffee, which sounded great after that fiasco that was my race.
I finished out the whole experience with some winding down at the bike shop, talk about tire choices (and an order on my part), and general bike talk. It was a fun race, poor performance notwithstanding, and I look forward to participating in the future. Hopefully turnout improves next year!