In racing Cyclocross I should have some advantages. It is mostly off-road with some (slightly) technical sections, tight turns and running sections. I can ride in packs, throw elbows and my bike is decent. My first cross race went poorly, but I can blame that on the limited clearance on my bike. So for last race of the series I was ready to race.
I hopped on a commuter train out of Union Station that dropped me within a few miles of the Bonelli Park in San Dimas.
Because it was a UCI race, the 2.7 kilometer course had to start and end on pavement that was LONG with a 180-degree turn and a small incline. After that was a long slight downhill on gravel, then double-track before the grass sections and tight turns. On the first lap I stayed with the front group: it was tough, but I wasn’t completely blown-up. My plan was to break after the grass downhill that went off a curb into the pavement section. I wasn’t the only one with this idea and when a few others broke I tried to hang on but totally blew up. Done. Then I couldn’t shift into my big chain ring. I rode the next lap with a second pack, then couldn’t hang on through the soft, pseudo-mud sections.
After the second lap it wasn’t fun anymore. About this time Jack, Kyle, and Jim C. showed up and I could hear them yelling ‘Swarm!’ and other things to me. I have suffered through long races, but the kind of suffering that comes with super high output is so different. It wrecks you like nothing else. Concentrating enough to make the turns was tough. My whole body ached. And this is only a 35-minute race! At one point I got caught by a guy on a single-speed mountain bike. On the pavement. D’oh. 16th out of 23.
Sure, I have not trained at a high output level and it is a different sport, but man I thought I was going to do much better. Very humbling. Overall I am sold that Cyclocross is fun and I know what I have to do differently. Next year?