Mechanical. That’s the only word to summarize the race today.
Diamond Blackfan was the season opener for cyclocross in the Kansas City area. It is also the first of six races that make up the De Stad Cyclocross Van Kansas Series. The course was pretty wide open with a whole bunch of twisting turns, a long sand run, and two barriers on a run up. I went into the race focused on training, with placing as a secondary goal. My training program is oriented around the races that come later in the season.
Sixty racers lined up for the Cat 4 race. I got to the line early enough to get a spot on row two, next to what appeared to be mostly racers. When the whistle blew, I found myself trapped on the inside. As a result, I watched a large number of riders cruise by while I battled it out with Rollie Pollie Ollie and friends. I was able to squeeze through just after the first turn, where I got enough breathing room to hit the gas. Best I could tell, I came out around 15th place.
I picked my way up the field, using the corners to pass riders. I was up to around 8th by the end of the first lap and 5th by the second lap. I began to understand that my fitness was probably a lot better than I realized. I sat in behind 4th and 5th, watching and waiting for the right time to move. I passed the 5th placed rider after the run up and set my focus on the next rider up.
During a hard effort on the 3rd lap I felt a hard “clink!” in the bottom bracket. I let up slightly to figure out what was going on, but never heard or felt it again. That was, until the last lap. Then, it clinked 3 or 4 times before the left crank let loose, dropping to the bottom of the pedal stroke. My cranks were busted.
My first thought was to abadone the race. That thought lasted all of about 7 seconds–I didn’t come out to DNF due to a mechanical. I clipped in my right foot, set my left foot on the frame and started hamming as hard as a one-legged rider can pedal. I rode about 75% of the last lap on one crank. Soon, riders began riding past me at a pretty regular interval. In the end I lost 18 places, finishing 22nd.
I saw (and felt) a lot that I liked today: the first 5 riders had a sizeable gap on the field. I also realized a few areas that need attention. I know who the competition will be this year: Andrew Coe, the winner of the 4’s, got a great hole shot and pretty much rode off the front, never to be challenged; Doug Stone and Rich Anderson (2nd & 3rd respectively) both rode really well. Oh yeah, and I’ve got to get my bike to the shop to figure out what happened…and why.