Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cold, Slick and without Bourbon

Indian Summer has been replaced by the bare trees, grey skies, misting rain and wind of the Ohio Valley winters that usually last four months. But for racing enthusiasts it's just beginning to feel like cyclocross weather — where a little imagination transports you halfway across the globe to Belgium and Northern France.

The Promotion Cross at Lexington's Veterans Park tested some racers resolve but I enjoyed the challenge. After a few rough races I wanted to see if I could apply some things I have learned and observed. One of these things is handling, it seems that although my skills have really progress I still make a lot of silly mistakes that put me on the ground. I think one thing I do is take corners too aggressively, leaning in too far causing my rear wheel to slide out. Another thing I wanted to work on is referred to as "sensation" or the amount of effort you feel you are applying. Go too high and your woozy head causes you err, go too easy and you basically aren't racing. Lastly my starts are always bullocks, maybe my legs aren't strong enough for quick bursts of intensity, maybe I am too cautious, maybe I do not warm up correctly.

So again I bullocks the start — I think I was pretty much the last rider at the top of the asphalt hill before going into the course. After inadvertently following a wheel during the Lobdell race I felt I should mark Geoff from the Seven Hills team and see how he rides the course. Unfortunately he had an injury that began to bother him after the first set of barriers.

After about a lap I settled into a spot where I was part of a little race for the 15-17 spots inside the big race. I was second of the three riders and for awhile we were close together. Then on some single track the first rider slid on some mud and hit a chain link fence. Well, I watched him do it and took the same line and did the same. Unfortunately my front wheel slid under the fence and was caught for a moment. The third rider passed me, but I was able to regain the spot after a half lap or so. That first rider ended putting a gap onto us.

Well, with a couple laps to go the third rider sprinted up a run up and passed me. I was shouldering the bike while he ran it on the ground. I had a chance to pass again, and I should have. I gave him the spot and he ended up having something in the bank for the last lap and put about a 15 second gap on me. So in a race of three I ended up third.

I thought it was an interesting course — I really liked all the mud. Maybe a bit too much pavement but that was an interesting companion to all the single track. Three months ago I would have been so scared I would have crashed several times a lap. I love that I have learned so much due to Cyclocross.

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