It was muddier than I expected. It was harder than I expected. The Colorado Cross Classic & Boulder Cup were both muddier and harder than I had expected. Muddier was good. Harder, well, not so good for me.
Saturday, Boulder Rez.
In a departure from most races this year, the day got off poorly when the registration became a complete failure in the morning. I plan lots of time for my pre-race tasks, but waiting thru two 20 minute lines, while the registration people tried (unsuccessfully...) to figure out how to register & hand out numbers put a dent in my prep. Still got ready OK, then got my usual 2nd to last row call-up. Last 2 rows BARELY fit up against the fence at the back of the staging corral (you can see that in the seatcam video....). I will almost always try and get staged at or near the outside rows, as that usually gives you a little room off the start. This time I lined up on the left fence, which turned into a good thing, as there was a MASSIVE pileup about 100 Meters into the start sprint, on the RIGHT side. Lots of grinding, crashing & fence-clanging was heard. You can also see riders & bikes piled up, just about higher than the orange fence in my on-board video.
Once it spread out a bit, the race went about as normal for me. Was able to move up for a bit of the first lap, able to get by most in the greasy corners on the west side of the course. Settled into a spot for a lap, then managed to semi-blow up trying to bridge to the next group. That little miscalculation saw me slow down & loose 3-4 places quick. This years course seemed to not have a lot of places to recover. for me, seemed to be pretty much full on for 95% of the lap, causing me to take that full lap to get going again. I was feeling VERY slow on the long westbound gravel grind heading to the west end of the course. Kept thinking I had a brake rubbing or mud packing up. the kind of thing where you keep thinking "I HAVE to be able to go faster than THIS...".
Eventually recovered, and over the last lap and a bit, got back most of the spots I lost, and was starting to move back forward. Not enough time to really go anywhere, but felt good to finish strong. Ended up exactly at mid-pack at 39th. Interesting in that only 77 of the 35+ cat 4 riders finished out of 111 starters. Pretty high attrition, maybe some of it from the big crash early, but also likely a read on how hard of a course it was. Not sure I've seen many races with a 30% abandon rate.
Overall I REALLY liked this course for a "Rez" race. Been enough races out there to see how course layout in the same venue can really change the feel and rhythm of a race, and this one, while hard, was a lot of fun.
Sunday, Boulder Cup
Back to Valmont. THIS one really surprised me. Once it melted out, the mud just kept coming, getting deeper and deeper as the race went on. Even harder, with less recovery than Saturday, Even with the course hard like that, it was a real bike drivers course. Good little snotty off camber bits to test your driving skill and power modulation. Sadly, I had ZERO power in the tank, and had a miserable day, going backwards the entire race. 4th from DFL in the 45s. Sigh.
Still, the slithering about kept the smile on my face I had at the start. Thanks to Jim Heuck at Six Degrees to Slush for capturing my shirt's full "Shiny Factor"
And my sequined disco shirt did get a few "Saturday Nite Fever" heckles, so it was still Cross. Some say the Colorado Cross scene is "too Serious". Since I saw a grand total of 3 costumes in the 45+ race, some devil horns and a great wig on Lennard Zinn., I am beginning to think that may be true. Can't people figure out a costume that lets you still go fast? Or is it rally just THAT serious out there?
So, after 2 days of icing my poor, sore knees from slogging around at high power both days, and getting my mid-season, full bike rebuild done, it's almost time to hit it again. A Cup race in Brighton, and a non-cup race in Golden, with the USAC race in the Springs, there are a lot of choices. I am expecting the HUGE numbers to start dropping off starting this weekend. Seems like each year, the fields start to shrink after Halloween. Maybe the Boulder Cup is the unofficial early season championship race for the warmer weather set, and it gets harder & colder to race about this tieme. Looks like the cold & wet will be hanging around, too. At least it won't be as dry and dusty as last season.