I'm still hurting. The 2 races at the USGP in Ft. Collins were a LOT of fun, but I feel like a truck ran me over. Then backed up and did it again. And again. After finally getting rid of my head cold and general sickness, and with not a lot of riding or "training" in me for the last 2 weeks I had NO idea how I'd feel or "go" up in the Fort. A little help from my Chinese medicine doc
and I was at least not feeling like my head & lungs were plum full of lung butter BEFORE the race even started. A nice change.
Saturday was forecast to be "cool" and rainy. I managed to NOT bring my hard-core winter riding or Cyclocross race watching clothing, figuring it was not going to get too cold. Oops. Turns out both would have been appropriate. All morning it was cool and "damp". Just barely wet enough to make me put the mud wheels on, which turned out to be a brilliant move. Just as we go to line up it goes from "damp" to "raining" and to me being very happy with my tire choice. This was my first real race with the 45+ open this year, and it is gratifying to see they still come out like a rifle shot. Good flow and close racing for the first lap, lots of fun to race with so many fast & smooth guys. It starts to break up, and I start to notice that it is POURING rain by then, and the course is rapidly going from "damp" to "slick" and it was really starting to be fun to slither around the course.
End up in the last group to not get lapped, with some good, back & forth racing the whole race. I was gaining time in the twisty bits and the downhills, and, as usual loosing it back on the climbs. Ended up in 53rd of 61 finishers, and easily met my only real goal at such a big race, keeping from getting lapped.
Even as crazy as the conditions were in our race was, it was NOTHING like later in the day for the later groups, like the 35 open.
Sunday was quite a different race. The course dried out just enough to be tacky and fast. Mud tires would leave nice little waffle prints, but pick up nothing. You knew it would be fast & furious, just about the exact opposite of the slither-fest of Saturday. Once again, got shot out of a cannon for the start, and never slowed down. Even way back in the field, it really did not spread out much, and it ended up being a knock-down-drag-out knife fight for even 50th place. I was hammering it out at my absolute limit in a group of 5, including Lee Waldman who writes a column for Cyclocross Magazine. Sadly, while suffering like a dog in lap 2 at the back of this merry little bunch, someone at the front let Lee drift off, and when I finally regained consciousness near the end of the lap, realized he was gone.
Down to 4, I went back & forth with the other 3 left in our bunch, in fast and really evenly matched racing. Like almost 1/2 the 45+ field, we got lapped by a stars & stripes clad missile out of the Junior ranks who started 30 seconds up on us old guys. That got us shortened up a lap, and I noticed we were at 1 to go (the others may have expected 2 still...) so I nailed it coming off the start pavement, jumping after the 2nd & 3rd place juniors passed us. I was able to gap the group on the initial descent, then at the bottom of the course realized that attacking at the bell leaves you a LONG way to go with only a small gap. I sucked it up, went right to the redline on the climbs, pushed the descents to the limit, and was able to hold off a shattered little group by a few seconds for 51st.
What I REALLY like about racing cross is you can have a battle back there in the 50s that is almost as much fun as racing for the top 5. I was more stoked to be able to shatter and gap that little group after such close racing, more so than many "better" results I've had in a while. Great fun, and it was a premeditated attack that did it, even more amazing.
These 2 shots sum it up. The fun & suffering of a great weekend. Thanks for keeping us grounded, Al!
On to Blue Sky Velo Cup this weekend, and the second visit to Xilinx. Even with no rain in the forecast, I'm re-energized and ready to go give the beer-drinking dads some hell. See you there.