It’s all about the start. If there’s one area of emphasis in cyclocross, it’s the start. Blow the start, blow the race. Cross starts are like free throws…yeah, ok, got it. I went into the race today ready for, wanting, needing a strong start so I could [hopefully] be competitive and [at least] test my fitness against the front of the pack. I’d rather be there and blow up than fight to move up the entire race. So far this year I’ve been vexed by bad starts. At Parkville, it was the sand pit on the first lap. St. Mary’s it was starting on the back row. For Smithville, I made certain to pre-register, which would guarantee a starting call-up. I also added extra start workouts into my training schedule.
I was the 12 rider called to the line, which put me on the 2nd row but in a good spot on the inside line. When the whistle blew, I had an all-star start: clipped in and on the gas. But, the rider in front of me had trouble clipping in; I was on the gas and immediately on the brakes. Despite his troubles, we were still able to roll off at the front of the pack. As we rounded the first corner and cut onto the grass, I was in the top 10…right where I wanted to be! As we came out of the second corner, someone ran square into me. I went flying before I know what happened. Fortunately, I rolled out of traffic, which saved me from getting run over or stopping the pack. When I finally got back to my bike, though, the entire pack had passed. Dead last out of the start…again!
I was able to pass several riders on each lap, and only gave up 1 or 2 places. When it was all over, I had passed 18 riders, moving from 38th to 20th. Not bad, but definitely not the race I wanted. I felt strong all day, picked good lines through the corners, and I was able to ride out of Hammer Beach. But, there’s only so much that can be done from the back of the pack, especially with the quality of racers that showed up today.