Last Saturday I raced cyclocross. I like to say that cross is my favorite kind of racing and it is true, but I had not done a cross race in almost two years.
I rode my single speed townie, shown here from its brief appearance in the Sanford & Son reunion episode. Fuji Del Rey with Kinesis fork. I took off the fenders for the race as they flop into the wheels, and the bottle cage too, and I put on knobby tires and clipless pedals. Other than that it was stock, complete with bell and rack and geared 40X18.
I did the single speed category. There were 11 of us, plus 3 juniors out there at the same time. It is sometimes not too tough to get a top 10 or 5 finish here in Iowa! The race split up at the first barrier, and a group of 5 of us rolled away. Lee V attacked us right quick in his usual fashion but after I called after him to not be that way in my usual fashion he came back and got dropped. I was feeling great about being in the top 4 and we all yucked it up a bit on the first lap before things got serious. I figured I should hang onto the leaders as long as I could so I did. Turns out I had about 2 laps in me.
It was a beautiful day and a fun course to ride with very dry grass and lots of 180's and 2 barrier sections, one with a short run up and the other in the pancake flat area so you would hit them at speed. A couple of hopable logs and no sand section led everyone to agree it was a "roadie" course. Yay said me, I'm a roadie!
So there I am 2 laps into a 35 minute state championship cyclocross race and just off the back of the leaders with 3 laps to go and that is how I later finished. Fourth place, no medal for me but I was happy with my ride. It was not easy, Lee V hung tough behind me and I had to ride as hard as I could for a while to hold him off. It made me gasp for breath and get all wheezy.
Before I had even crossed the finish line I had decided I would not ride the Masters 35+ later. This feeling was cemented after finishing as I inspected my rear wheel. It had developed quite a hop sometime during my last lap and I feared my rim had gotten tweaked but it was just my tire blowing off the rim in super slo-mo. A three or four inch section of bead was up on the rim and I quickly let out pressure and pushed it back on, glad it had not let loose during the race.
I rolled around for a bit and talked with folks and somehow or other found myself registered for the Masters race. I have no good excuse or explanation for this other than I made a promise to blog for Tarik and I felt my first race had left me with a lack of suitable material and nary a nugget of blog gold.
The Masters 35+ and 45+ went together and the field was about 25 riders. I was still on the townie, my "real" cross bike was left home, but I had worked on the rear tire a bit and felt it was sound enough. Off we went, a much more rampaging start than the single speed race and the first barriers had me mid pack. The course was narrow and twisty for a bit so I sat in and waited for the first wide open climb to make my "move" and when I did I passed 2 or 3 people and that was it. For the rest of the race I was 15 seconds behind one rider and maybe 10 seconds in front of two more. I concentrated on riding strongly and steadily and smoothly and alonely.
I was hurting much less in this race, either because my taper was working to perfection or because of my sensible warm up race or because I was riding slower. Who knows. With just half a lap to go and a top ten finish locked up my rear wheel got that familiar hopping feeling and I thought, "Shit - A Blowout!" What to do? I could stop and let a smidge of air out and get the bead back on but I would likely be caught or I could ride it and hope for the best and likely be caught. I rode it and just a quarter of a lap later the tire blew off the rim.
I am a firm believer in the NEVER WALK mantra which is especially silly in a cross race and I have ridden flat tires great distances in the past so I was not worried and I kept on with the now floppy tire rubbing on the chainstay and I almost biffed it in a corner so I slowed way down, rode it in safely, lost them two places and got 11th. Not the stuff of blog gold, but sometimes life's most mundane moments are the most precious and are more valuable than gold.
Ha-Ha, I can't believe I wrote that. Glad this isn't my blog!
So there you have it, my cross season open and closed in just one day. Unless?