Round 3 & 4 of the de Stad series proved to be the best of the series. The weather on both days was exactly as the man predicted: cool and very windy. The course was awesome with plenty of technical turns and slippery twists, a few climbs, and an impressive wall of dirt run-up. And, I finally won a race, two in fact. Big thanks to Chris, Heather and everyone that worked on the course and ran a great race.
Round 3, Saturday:
This would be my 3rd race of the series and 6th ‘cross race overall. I’ve realized in that span that I’m not good at starts. So this week I decided to stop fighting it and just go with the flow. The strategy for the day would be to take advantage of my starting problems and go out a little easier and build speed during the later laps.
During staging, I found myself moving further and further back in line as more and more pre-reg guys were placed on rows 1 and 2. When the whistle blew, I fought the urge to explode off the line, and instead slowly built speed with the guys right in front of me–it’s really difficult to watch the front group sprint away! The strategy started to work almost immediately, maybe even faster than I wanted, as I found myself passing riders during the first section of the course. By lap two, I was sitting in with the lead group. As we worked around the course, I started having that thought: “I could win this thing!“. I fought the urge to think about placing and focused on good turns and watching how much energy I spent on the climbs. I made a hard move around the leader midway through the last lap that stuck and earned me my first Cyclocross win.
I learned after the race that the guy I moved around, Mark Cole, was in the single speed class. I actually took the lead during the 2nd/3rd lap.
Round 4, Sunday:
The course was changed slightly for the second day of racing. In general, the changes were improvements. The new approach to the dirt wall run-up took away any idea of riding it while making the run a little easier. The new section on the lake front was a tough change. The course wasn’t beat down so it was rough, rough, rough and it was dead into a 30-45 MPH wind coming off the lake. That mix made for slow going.
The line up was the same as Saturday–several pre-reg guys gobbled up the first two rows. So the strategy was the same too: go easy early and then build in the later laps. Like Saturday, I found myself moving up during the first lap. By lap two I was sitting second wheel behind Jeff Bishop. I moved around him only to find my move countered by another rider that was flat out haulin ass. I countered his move and rode his wheel until I noticed that he was on a single speed. I decided then to let him go. That rider turned out to be Andrew Coe, the winner by a huge gap of the single-speed class. Man has jets on his heels and they translate to power to the pedals! I focused on riding my ride and held my ground for another win. I got paid in the process, too, by snagging a buck from the money tree. cha-ching!