I've been on a really disciplined training plan for the past few weeks, which includes lots of beer drinking, a bit of travelling and very little riding. Essentially...I'm looking forward to the off-season...which has already kinda started...in my mind. So, my expectations going to NE Velo Cross today were pretty modest. Curtis Boivin, Mike Rowell and Cort Cramer were pre-reged in SS, but beyond them the field was pretty thin. So, I knew I'd basically be racing Cort for 3rd and that it was unlikely I'd do worse than 5th.
I showed up 2 hrs early to get a few laps in. I love, Love, LOVE this course! I can't believe I never raced it before, but it will be an "A" race from now on. Start on the Velodrome, 3/4 way around, then into the in-field for some grass, turns, mud and 2 sets of barriers. Across the asphault and onto the dirt, and it basically became a mountain bike course. Twists, turns, hard pack, short elevation changes, on-camber, off-camber, tacky, a bit of mud....LOVE. Mid-way through, there's a 20-30 yard run up that is probably rideable with gears. Since I only had one, I didn't bother trying. After a few more twists and a big banked drop back into the venue, the course takes you onto the BMX track for big whoops, big banked turns and a pump-track section. Did I mention that I liked this course?
I pre-rode with Cort. We both knew that this wasn't going to be his day. And, despite my waning fitness level, I knew that I was gonna have a lot of fun.
Lined up in the front row, and several of us joked about making the first lap a parade lap. Some NEBC guy shot out of a cannon when they said go, with Mike Rowell on his wheel. Despite pulling out of my pedal, I settled nicely into third by the time we hit the grass. Through the infield, I was thinking "these guys were serious about the parade lap". I was breathing easier than I ever have 60 seconds into a cross race. Over the second barriers, with about 30m until the dirt, I bolted into the lead....thinking that I'd rather not follow an unfamiliar wheel through the MTB section. I opened up a pretty good gap in the woods and still had the lead into the velodrome. Curtis got tired of his parade lap pace and quickly caught onto my wheel, then passed me going into the woods on lap 2. I gave chase, spiked my heartrate, then chilled and let him go. Rowell caught me and passed me on lap 3, I gave chase, spiked, chilled and settled into 3rd.
As predicted, the course wasn't playing into Cort's strong suit and I had a comfortable lead on him. We did 6 total laps and finished in about 36 minutes. I could have done 1 more, cuz it was just so much fun. On the last lap, Curtis and Mike were completely out of reach, just like I was out of reach for Cort. I cruised through the woods, didn't bother to shoulder the bike for the run-up, enjoyed a final trip through the BMX track and crossed the line with no hands on the bars...despite the fact that I was only 3rd. I had so much fun it didn't matter.