Just like clockwork, the time has come this year for Mr. CiclaValley to get his annual cyclocross race fix in yesterday at Griffith Park. Does it sound like I’m overly enthusiastic about this? I love riding bikes, especially my cyclocross, but the constant dismounting and remounting feels a bit gimmicky to me.
I’m really not experienced, as I’ve only raced twice before with the first time flatting out before completing a lap. Still, bike races in your own backyard are hard to come by and the relaxed attitude of CX races makes me say, “Why not?”. Plus, now when people ask me do I race cyclocross, I can act all hard and say, “F Yeah!”.
Staging. Stretching. Regretting.
I got to the races, meeting up with my friend John who’s gotten the cyclocross bug the last couple of years. We did a practice lap around the course with me showcasing my lack of technical skills. Although I raced here last two years ago, I felt like there were more obstacles along with extra pockets of sandiness this go around. John knew how to peddle through most of it, I just practiced using my bike like a suitcase.
After our lap, he asked me how much PSI I put in my tires. I remembered putting 30 in one and 35 in the other, but forgot which was which. Oh well, the race was starting.
Be careful of people doing sand angles on the course
There were actually three races going on at once. The first, being a 55+ with my buddy John, followed by the women’s 35+ age groups, then ours being the 35+ C’s.
I didn’t have much of a goal, other than not being lapped. I just wanted to burn some calories, see if I could learn some new tricks and have fun. Also adding to the experience, my wife and daughter were out to see me race for the first time.
The whistle went off and I the start pretty non-aggressively. You can see I had a pretty slow start(orange helmet in the 2nd row at the 2:25 mark), just being content not being taken out in the initial scourge.
The first part of the race is a winding uphill which was clogged enough that everyone pretty much stayed in the same positions all the way up. About a couple minutes in, I faced my first obstacle: a three step staircase. Did I go down? Of course. That’s my skill set, but luckily I was able to get up quickly. A short time later, we hit the large sand pit where not only did I fall again, but I took someone out with me.
The moment before I ran over the guy in front of me. Sorry.
I made it through the first lap passing a person or two on the way and pretending that I won crossing the finish line. As I returned to the uphill section of the course, I started moving past more cyclists. Not that I was going super hard, but climbing is my specialty and with each passing lap, I would gain ground on the field during that starting section only to lose some of it back on the technical parts of the course.
Even though you would think I would figure out how to dismount and handle the dirt better each time around the course, I still kept falling off the bike proving I have the inability to learn anything. I just enjoyed hamming it up each time I passed my daughter and having fun each time I passed Mr. Cool Ass Mike Bowers, who was announcing his cool ass off even after a brutal crash days ago with a metal bollard.
About halfway in, I was riding behind a guy through the downhill slope that didn’t want to get passed. At the bottom of the course, you ride up a medium and hop off back into the parking lot making a sharp left turn. This rider took it a little too fast and slid out. For a change, I didn’t take a rider out.
This guy was seconds away from eating it.
As the race progressed, there were fewer people to pass making it lonelier and lonelier out there. On the penultimate lap, I passed someone right after the uphill and the guy soon took exception. He raced back in front of me, but I thought no big deal, I’ll just catch him the next time around on the climb.
In the last section of dirt on the lap, another guy came up behind me. He was pretty far behind me a couple of minutes ago, but must have handled the last two obstacles with gazelle-like efficiency. The rider was nice enough to tell me he was leading the race(which I later learned was the 55+ one) and that he would let me cross ahead at the finish line to get another lap in.
I felt pressure to hurry because I didn’t want him to get caught because of his gracefulness. Of course, trying to speed up through this portion of the course was met with a lack of elegance on my part. Taking turns too fast, I fell not only once, but a second time which I felt something unusual in my back. The good news: my back was fine. Bad news: I forgot to take out my phone. Not only did the screen crack, but the device actually BENT.
Pour a forty…
The leader must have been ahead by a lot because he was in no hurry for me to get back on. After I cross the finish line, the lap was compulsory, as no one could technically pass me. I just had to finish.
Wounds of war
I didn’t really care where I placed, except there was one spot I didn’t want to be: just off the podium. Finishing in the middle of the pack is where I expected to be, but if I was actually competitive, what would have happened if I pushed it harder out there.
So….guess where I placed?
All in all, I shouldn’t complain. I had a fun time, finished a lot higher than I expected and all while I’m riding on bald tires.
…and this is my “grippy” tire of the two.
There’s another race at Woodley Park on the 27th and it’s close enough that it’ll be hard to say no. Plus, my family had a great time and would love to be back. At the same time, it’s all flat over in that area, so there goes my bread and butter. Let’s just say I’m penciling that date in, no ink yet.