Cat 4, 9 a.m. start
Arrived nice and early to Blunt Park with my newly installed 11-28 cassette, new chain and Challenge Grifos ready to take on the world. Well, one chink in my armor was knowing I'd have to face my wife later for leaving the fridge door ajar all night, spoiling a load of just-purchased perishables (including a beef tenderloin).
Took two pokey inspection laps and found my eyeglasses in my jersey pocket so I went to put them back in the car before taking a 3rd, peppier lap. This detour was just enough to cause me to line up one row from the back in a field of nearly 50.
I shrugged this off as I hoped it would ensure that I would pass a few people for a change instead of spending the whole race bleeding positions if I'd lined up in the 1st row.
The race starts and I clip in right away (thx to extra practice yesterday with Stefan and Coley) and proceed to pass 10-11 people on the start straight and into the 1st left hander that took me off the pavement and into the single track. Seemed like everyone went way too hot and was dragging their rear wheel slow down enough not to crash into the guy in front of him.
Laps 1 and 2 were spent trying to get by people who overcooked it too early, no easy task on this course. About 1/3 of the way in, there was a pile of logs and with my single chainring up front combined with a good summer of MTB skill-acquisition, I had no fears going right over it and past others who fumbled or ran it. A little later, about 1/2 through the lap, there was a bit of pavement we crossed after which the course got a little wider and I was able to jump past people there as well. The hill-and-dale turns after the triple barrier was another place I found success in passing.
I was winded, of course, but I felt very much in command of managing my effort so far.
Cut to lap 3: I approached the logs and started over like I did on the previous two laps but as my front wheel crested the top, to my horror, I saw that the log that was previously nestled snugly in the backside of pile had rolled a couple of feet away - right to the spot where my front wheel landed. Over I went and landed in the grey, soft soil that was almost like a combination of sand and ash.
When I stood up, my right leg was tangled in the drop of my handlebar and as I sort it out, at least 5 people went by me. Bleh. Jump back on, and give chase to this new group that was only moments before a few seconds behind me.
Laps 4 & 5: by this time, I knew that apart from the lead group (if they were even a group) everyone else was strung out. That's just how things play out at Blunt Park. So, after I spent the rest of lap 3 getting my mojo back after dumping it, I set back to the task of keeping steady pressure on the pedals, spinning as much as I could, and trying to pick off who ever was next in front of me. In the end, though, I figure I passed 3 guys, two of which passed me back by the end of the race. I knew my bike handling skills were headed for the dumper as I kept grazing the tape on the exit of turns and doing more and more dabs as time went on.
I finished 24th of about 48, 6 positions back from what the race predictor had me.
- The change to the 11-28 was overdue (I run a 42 up front): on some turns where I would have been grinding out at a very low cadence, I was now able to spin up much faster.
- I felt like I had very good control of my effort, my laps were
so only a 14 second range over 5 laps - steady!
MINUS (aka, the excuse list)
- a week's vacation with no riding did not help with my fitness. Last year at this time I think I had 4-6 CX specific workouts under my belt plus more miles in general
- overweight, but then, I've not been to concerned with hitting race weight all summer
- poor bike handling - same as with the fitness, just not enough practice going in.
WHERE TO NOW - going to focus on doing what Ryan Trebon supposedly does
: "repeated accelerations regularly while at or near his FTP"