|Posted: 04 October 2004 at 15:05 | IP Logged
"How was it? Did you crash? Tell the tales. "
OK, this was my first cross race, and I raced the beginner class. We got to Blue Lake plenty early, and I made a slow circuit of the course. Well, that was the plan anyway; I ended up speeding up a bit. It was chilly so I was wearing tights and a fleece sweater. Back at the car to re-hydrate, I removed the fleece and did another slow lap.
Just before the race, I spent some time practicing dismounts and got rid of the tights. I still had arm warmers on, but pushed them down sometime during the actual race. I got a fair start, and passed some people early on. My weakness is endurance (and running). I've only been riding seriously since January, I'm an ex-smoker, and I'm a forty-something desk jockey so I tend to run out of breath. I can sprint, and do Century's but extended full bore and I run out of breath faster than you can say "McTarnihans Six Pack". Because of this, I tried to pace myself, as I really wanted to finish.
The second lap, I took a spill on the second run-up (next to the lake). I'd ridden up it on the first lap and in practice, but this time I was in too high a gear and stalled almost to the top. The "Artie Johnson" dismount caused the top tube to slam into my left knee, causing it to go numb for a moment, like a 'funny bone' hit. Damn it hurt! At first, I wasn't sure I could peddle at all, and I briefly thought of abandoning, but I decided to try and spin it out. There was a straight run next, then a fun little whoop-de-whoop that let me rest my knee for a moment. The next little run-up I'd been riding, but I dismounted this one lap. By the end of the lap, the knee hurt but was working pretty well.
I could never find a fast way through the two-track "road" at the back of the course. It was very rough and 'bouncy' and I was slower than molasses in January back there. I finally ended up clear to the right out of the ruts in the grass; not much faster, but at least a little less bouncy.
By lap 3, the sand trap was killing me. I'd do OK through the first half, then drag through the second. I ran up where I'd crashed the last lap, but by the 4th was back to riding up. Lap 4 I don't remember: I think I may have been hallucinating. Finally, the bell lap. I played cat and mouse with a couple other riders, passing them on the smooth fast stuff, and falling behind on the 'technical' stuff: basically anything I where I had to get off the bike. All the practiced dismounts where out the window, it was struggle off, grunt the bike up and run at a walking speed through the sand, up the hills, over the barriers. Finally the three of them passed me again after my nemeses 2-track at the back, and I did not have the energy - or heart - to chase them back down, knowing I had another run up and more barriers to go.
I did know I was going to make my goal of finishing, which kept me going. Over the last double barrier I trudged, with a corner worker cheering me on. Thank you whoever you were; it helps! By the final six-pack I found my last burst and made it through fairly quickly. My son was at the final corner cheering me on and I sprinted to the finish. 57th out of 77 in Beginner, but most importantly a finisher!
Next week, I'm shooting for a top 50 finish.
Oh, and my son managed an AWESOME 4th in Junior. Not bad for an unattached kid on an old mountain bike. <insert proud dad look here>