As much as I'd like to believe that the Men's Elite/A's race is the main event at a local "small-time" cross race, the reality of the situation is that nobody really give a crap about it. Inevitably, 40 minutes into the Men's A race, bored spectators start thinking out loud "How many more laps do these idiots have left? Put them out of their misery and let's get the show on the road."
Sure, everybody enjoys Women's Elite/A race because, frankly, who doesn't like watching bad ass ladies beat the snot out of one another (and themselves). But since we already know that cyclocross is really a participation sport, most of the spectators are either a) racers waiting patiently for their own start time, or b) the family members of other racers waiting even more patiently for their wife/husband/father/mother/son/daughter/grandmother to race, or c) officials/waffle vendors/event organizers to just want to get home and have a beer. Besides, most of the A racers have long ago used all of their excuses to con family and friends to attend races.
The only thing more boring than watching an A race is reading a poorly written recap of a race! It's your lucky day because I have just such a race recap for you!
Since Marty's CX was at a new location this year, I sent my people to recon the course and they reported back about a fast flowy course with lots of climbing. All good things.
Unfortunately the National Weather Service forecasted 1-2 inches of rain on friday. Now, I know its customary in cross to idealize epic mud conditions, and at the risk of sounding like a big weeine, I can admit I was pleased to learn that the actual rainfall we received was much less than expected. Also, the entire course was set on a tilted plane, not unlike those wooden marble labyrinth games, which allowed for quick drainage.
(bottomless holes were not present on the course)
There was talk of it being the HILLIEST COURSE IN CYCLOCROSS HISTORY. It wasn't, but it certianly had a lot of climbing. Nonetheless, after doing an initial pre-ride it was clear that it would be a race which would weight power over technical ability. And since it's the State Championship race, it brings out a few of the big guns: Bill Elliston, Maurice, Gavi Epstein, Roger Aspholm to name a few. Coffee is for closers only, and these guys get to drink coffee.
I get to watch Allison race and take a few pictures for the first time this year. She has an amazing start but drops her chain over the barrier and loses a few spots on the second lap. By the end she has clawed her way back into 4th overall and 2nd on the NJ State podium!
Despite the fact that I have more time between Allison's race and mine I lose track of time and basically forget to to warm up. But it's an hour race so I figure I've got plenty of time to warm up during the race, right? I just need to start sensibly and not go out too fast.
Since I virtually nailed the bikereg.com registration holeshot, I get a front row call up despite not having any series points. Soon enough, the whistle blows and I do the usual start sequence: pedal-clip-pedal-pedal-drop 2 gears-pedal-pedal-drop another 2 gears. By the first turn 200-300 yards in, I sense that nobody is near me and I immediately think that something is wrong. There is no way I can take the hole shot with this bunch. I must have false started. At the top of the first climb, I take a look over my shoulder and see the group is a few seconds back. Yeah, I definitely must have jumped the gun because there's no way I'm ahead of those guys. But, did I hear a whistle or not? Now I can't remember. Wait a munite....the referee was standing right next to me when she blew the whistly and my ear is still ringing. This means I'm winning the race! What could possibly stop me now?
It's at this point I remember that the race is actually an hour long, not 3 minutes and that maybe I should chill out for a little bit. I try to dial it back but being in the lead feels so magical it's hard to slow down. I know that at some point the time-space continuum will re-align itself and a group of very fast guys is going to catch me. I know that I have to recover a bit if I'm going to have any chance of latching on to the chase group.
Predictably Gavi, Roger, Bill and Maurice catch me on the long power section on the last 1/3 of the first lap and drop me like a corporate sponsor dropping Lance. Well that didn't work. On to plan B. The group of Fred, Neon-Kit-Guy and Dag are charging hard and look like they are going to catch me. I plan to latch on to them as they catch me and have them pull me around for a few laps. Then, that group proceeds to blow by me. Ok, I've got more tricks up my sleeve. On to Plan C. The group of Andrew, CRCofA and Northeastern Hardware are closing fast. I'll just stick with that group for a while. Finally I'm able to hold position in that group.
For a lap or two I sit in this group. Northeastern falls off pace. Then I gap Andrew and the Century guy after I ride the run-up and they are forced to dismount. I drill the climby section to make the gap stick and begin to count seconds to the next group. The group of Fred, Neon-Kit-Guy and Dag has shattered with Dag out in front and Fred behind (not really sure what happened to Neon-Kit-Guy but I think he has abandoned the race near the pits). So I start counting seconds to Fred and realize I'm closing the gap pretty quickly. I catch Fred, who is clearly having a bad day, with maybe 3 to go and sit on his wheel for a half-lap and make the pass right after the run-up. Somebody tells us we are 6-7.
I start counting time gaps to Dag and I'm seadily closing the gap. With 1 to go I give it everything to catch dag but never get closer than about 12 seconds and end up 6th.
After the race Maurice says to me "dude, you have to be careful starting like that". I think this might be the understatement of the season. I may not be smart but I am slow.