For those who don’t frequently follow CiclaValley, my usual “I’m doing ‘cross once this season” column comes a little earlier in the cyclocross schedule than usual.
Part of the reason was an opening in my Sunday with the wife getting her hair done and my parents taking CV Jr. to the latest and greatest My Little Pony movie.
The other reason I was secretly eager to race is that I’m coming off a 2nd place finish from last year and the competitor in me wants to keep the success train going.
Not that I was looking to win, but a decent finish gives you points which improves your starting position for future races (I have my eyes on Griffith Park).
This race was a new course for me as Corriganville Park was far different than the other SoCalCross courses I’ve competed on.
The start had a super long straight away that covered almost the whole length off the course which is an opportunity for the less technically skilled (me) to make up some time.
Another obstacle were a few sandy patches which even though I chose 35mm tires over 32mm at the last second, still gave me problems.
Lastly, this was the first time I had to ride over an unavoidable amount of rockscape in a race.
You could probably figure out from the previous sentence that I wasn’t riding tubeless, so just finishing the race without flatting out would be the big achievement.
That also doesn’t factor in that my shoulder is still recovering from the deer incident a month ago.
One thing I couldn’t complain about was the setting.
The setting in 80’s terms is bitchin’.
If I was a set designer, I probably would have come up with something like Corriganville for the scene of a rad bike race as cool people with awesome bikes and clothing being gnarly.
Maybe that was also because there movie studio next door.
Finally the time came to race with the 35+ C’s as we started last among among the wave of four races.
I know that having a good start is key but can anyone guess why this happened?
I’m off. And that’s about it.
Answer: my Garmin had turned off after waiting too long and I made the executive decision that putting this race on Strava was far more important than working to the front.
It’s awkward trying to control yourself through sand as you hold the power button down to turn the damn thing on.
While it took about 30 seconds to boot up and start, it was enough time to find myself at the very back.
Once I finally got the clock moving (listen at the two second mark), it was on:
If only the whole race was like this.
Making progress on the straightaways wasn’t much of a problem.
My biggest trouble was rolling through deep sand on turns.
There were a lot of people with wider tires than me and I seemed to be the worst (and maybe least experienced) navigating these conditions.
Still on the first lap, I bumped not one, but two riders within seconds.
Later on in the race, I learned I could be a couple seconds faster dismounting my bike and just running until the dirt got some integrity back.
Right after the main section of softness was a new feature that in non-racing or tubeless circumstances would have been a lot of fun.
I knew the paved channel provided the optimum opportunity to get some righteous air, but I remember the last time I tried it to impress Mrs. CV, I ended up with a pinch flat.
Skate or bike or die!
The first lap saw a lot of casualties from what looked like first time riders not ready to accept their race was over from flatting out.
For me, I was making consistent progress improving my position, but that didn’t really ease congestion as I was now navigating through riders from the race before as well as mine.
Seeing how my goal was just to finish, I balanced passing riders while being cautious about advancing around spots where there could be potential crashes.
Pile up, but somehow not me!
With each lap, my ride felt more solitary without really knowing which place I was in.
I rode the rocky portions more gingerly with each remaining lap attempting to increase my odds of survival.
On the last lap, riding through the concrete ravine exposed that my front tire felt a little soft.
I’m kinda jumping (photo by Troy Templin)
I slowed down even more and overshot a turn, but I still felt like I was going to make it.
Then on the last sharp downhill, my bike slid out and I spilled.
Yup. That tire was losing air fast.
That downhill was my…downfall.
I tried a little riding, but I knew if I was going to make it, I’d have to run.
Sprinting with your bike is no fun, otherwise someone would have invented a sport around it.
Riders were annoyingly passing me and while I politely stayed out of their way, there was a side of me that didn’t want to.
I ended up running across the finish line which felt like the dorkiest non-father moment in my life.
This isn’t the Olympics where this would make some type of human interest story, so I just went back to my car to change out.
I went to commiserate at the H & S booth and an adult beverage thanks to Nora was the perfect antidote.
Typical cross photo.
As I was getting ready to move onto round two, I was rudely interrupted hearing my name over the loudspeaker to come to the podium.
Turned out I made the final spot on the podium, which was just enough to earn a beer.
I walked over to check the results and I noticed the difference between moving up from fifth place to second was 55 seconds.
It didn’t make me feel better when I checked the Strava that the final lap took me 90 seconds longer than the previous.
Sticking to my original goal, I should just be happy to finish and be on the podium, but who likes falling a few positions back in the standings?
Bottom line: Racing was fun and if I happen to write two cyclocross columns in a season, is that such a bad thing?