Despite this being the first race of the year it felt more like the last race of last year since it concludes my cyclocross season. I feel good and Kris gave me green light to race the upcoming weekend but mentally I'm done and ready to move onto the last Winter event, the Early Bird Road Race out of Patterson. But I'm getting ahead of myself! Have I mentioned yet that this race was held at a Nude Resort?! I shit you not! Check it out: http://www.lagunadelsol.com/Her
Now I know this opens the door to so many jokes you probably can't decide wether to open with "where do you pin your numbers" and "well that gives a new meaning to 'skinsuit'" but with the race time temperature at about 40 degrees, there was not a saggy naked butt in sight (or pert ones or any other kind for that matter).
Here's my GPS trace from the race (I finally got the nerve to use my Garmin 500 in a 'cross race).
The course wasn't necessarily technical. There were a couple of muddy sections that sent the front and rear wheels in different directions but they were manageable. There were several little climbs. To the right there you can see they incorporated one of their patented "spirals of doom." This spiral was just as endless as the other one but it was broken up by being located over a hill so there was a mix of descending and climbing to break things up. Other than the spiral there was one tight turn into an uphill that was good for creating gaps.
Right at the go I felt pretty good. I didn't start superfast but did alot of passing on the first lap. On the second lap we had a nice little group of five or six of us sort of working together. They seemed to be faster on the long flat sections but I was able to follow wheels and wait for the hills where I was able to climb strong and even accelerate across the tops to force them to close the gap back up to me. Believe it or not, sportsfans, I was the strongest climber in our little group. It's kind of like when Captain Kirk met his evil twin with a goatee or something. On the penultimate lap (No matter how hard I try, that is a term that is really hard to keep out of bike racing reports. I always picture some academic cartoony character with a pencil up his butt declaring, "penultimate" rolling each syllable with perfect annunciation.) Where was I. Oh yeah, on the penultimate lap two guys from our group suddenly grew third lungs and quickly rode away. I tried but couldn't keep their gap small enough and they just rode away. I knew I had two or three guys on my wheel and just ignored them and kept a steady pace on the flats and attacking as well as I could on any little bump of a climb that there was. It worked and I rode the last half lap solo with no one to sprint with.
Most importantly, this was a fun race since there was a good race going with swapping positions and some tactics. Nothing is more fun than having the fitness in a cyclocross or mountain bike race to randomly stick little ten to fifteen kick accelerations in here and there and throw off the momentum of anyone on your wheel.
And yet I walked away from the results a little disappointed! As good as I felt, as much as I felt I couldn't have had a better race and as much as I feel this is close to as fit as I can be this time of year I ended up 12 of 24. I really thought it was a top ten effort but, instead, it just barely put me in the top half of the field. What's a guy gotta do? Oh well. Despite that it was still a fun race and so I was happy to finally leave the Sacto area for once this 'cross season feeling good about a race instead of grumpy.
And just like that, my cyclocross season is over. I'm kind of sad about that but I'm going to resist the temptation to squeeze in one or two more unplanned races. Though I started off way out of racing shape I was happy to finally ride myself into some semblance of form and enjoy some good races there at the end.
Bikewise, my white bar tape has turned brown and my bike is in need of a thorough cleaning, coat of wax and a new set of cables and brake pads. And since I didn't actually get to use this bike in '09 I was very happy with it this year. It's been a really great and reliable race bike. The frame has that aluminum responsiveness and the 1x9 setup running a very wide range with a 42 tooth chainring was absolutely bulletproof. The only thing I was consistently wishing to improve were the brakes but really the good old Onzas did the trick with a little love here and there to keep them lined up. Oh, and typical of a good cross season, my saddle has not survived! The rails are bent, the right side is lower than the left side and the pleather is cracked and coming apart.
Fianlly, I didn't get to fulfill my fantasy of getting a podium finish for the year on the road, track, mountain bike AND cyclocross but I can't complain. I'm really just happy to be out there riding and racing at all.