With rain Friday and Saturday and threatening skies on Sunday this looked like it would be a muckfest of a race but Sunday turned dry and, while muddy (more on that later) the race was generally clean - all things considered. Here's a map of the course.
The start was at the bottom of a flyover that, I assume, is part of the winery where they must dump grapes into a big two story crusher contraption sort of thing. As a race obstacle it was a steepish, but short climb, with a flat section followed by an equally steepish, yet short, descent. After that was a sweeping left hander onto a short sidewalk and a 180 onto a dirt path. After that was a left hander down into the turf section of the course. With the rains the grass and turf was plenty soaked. But instead of standing mud puddles, the turf soaked up the water and turned into a soul-sucking peanutbutter like consistency that grabbed everyone's wheels and had us grabbing for ridiculously small gears just to slog along. A few barriers and up and down a big berm finally turned into the "spiral of DOOM." It's that cinnamon roll looking part on the map there. In warmup, I could tell this was going to be the most hellish part of the course and it certainly was. Each time through was an interminable spiral in through the lecherous muck searching in vain for good lines that maybe were just slightly packed enough to get through slightly faster. Right when the legs were screaming for a break, a 180 degree turn came and the slog to spiral back out began. Then came more wheel grabbing sections of muddy turf going up and down and around and finally the short merciful section of pavement came to the start/finish and all too soon it was back into the grind.
For once I grabbed a good spot for the start. I launched and clipped in well and had a really great position at around 12th going into the technical stuff. I even moved up a few spots as riders bobbled the first turns. Going into the first barriers there was a slight bottleneck and I got swarmed a bit (got bashed into pretty good too but that's just part of the fun). Coming out I had trouble clipping in and lost a few spots.
That was about as good as my race got. By the first time into and out of the spiral of doom I was falling back back back and getting passed. All I could do was just keep grinding away and shake my head that I simply am not on the same level as the rest of the field. What a frustrating experience to be that overmatched. It's just become a regular occurance this year for my giveadamn to simply quit at that point. I spent the rest of the race just slogging along in no man's land getting passed by most of the 45+ field and the 55+ field to add insult to misery.
My final result was 34th of 40! Ouch ouch ouch ouch. I think that's the worst result I've suffered in the two years since I've been back racing. I really don't know what the heck is going on. I just don't have any horsepower all of the sudden. This wouldn't be a big deal if I wasn't training my ass off lately. But I am! Hell, maybe I'm working too hard and not letting my body recuperate but it doesn't feel like it. When I'm doing intervals I'm getting tired but I seem to be recovering okay. I can tell I'm sluggish in climbing lately too which further adds to the "where the crap did my power go?" equation.
Ah bike racing. It can be a cruel wench when it's not going well. But that's usually the fun of cyclocross where you don't get dropped and spend the day riding by yourself. Or do you?