Big shout out to Rich and Cow Town Cycling for putting on a great race! The course was well designed and challenging, registration was silky smooth, and staging/starting was organized and on time. What more can we racers ask for? Weather? That was covered, too, with overcast skies, temps in the 40’s and a light breeze. That’s not exactly October weather but it makes for great cross racing.
I once read an article that compared cyclocross starts to free throws in basketball. Make ’em and win; miss em and, well…Today proved the adage true. For as good as I felt, I simply started too far back to be a contender. Call ups were based on order of registration, and since I didn’t pre-reg, I found myself sitting on the back row. I looked up across the field of Cat 3 racers and sighed. There were 30-ish riders ahead of me and several of them are scary fast. I decided it was the start or never and tried to take advantage of the up-hill section to try and “buy” a few places.
I got off to a good start and was able to move up several places before the first turn. But, movement up pretty much stopped as soon as we rounded the first corner and got onto the course. The lane was nice and wide but there seemed to be only one line through most sections. Single file ruled. I sat in through the corners and used the short hills to pass as many riders as I could.
I felt comfortable and confident during the first two laps. Then, at some point on the 3rd lap, it felt like all the wind was taken from my sails…or tires. It started with a glimpse of the leaders and the acknowledgement that they were out of reach. It soon moved to a nagging pain in my lower back and eventually manifest in me walking over a set of barriers. There’s nothing more humbling than wanting to jump and instead stepping. I got the message and throttled back my effort. Best I could tell I was sitting between 15th and 20th with a decent gap on the riders behind me.
I was able to hold off any riders until the brick section on the last lap. I realized I was done in a big way when I didn’t care that 3 riders came around me. I tried to hold the wheel of the first rider as he came around but the searing pain in my lower back triumphed. I pedaled up the hill and across the line, thankful that the race was over. I finished 20th and with a few more lessons learned.