What would a 'cross weekend be without having a good evening of drinking before race day?
Again this happened, again, it paid off.
A brief recap since the Lower Allen race. I did two other 'cross races, the Richmond Ciclismo 8th out of 20 in the Bs, and a race over the Thanksgiving break up in Sterling, MA, 59th out of 89 in the Bs. The Richmond race consisted of a relatively sparse field, and I felt that it would be a good race to try the Bs in. The course was very mountain bike friendly and with such a small field, it made for a pretty wide open race. The two sets of barriers, plus a super muddy rooty technical section made the race interesting. The lifting and twisting of the bike definitely wrecked my back and in the final two laps the pain sapped any remaining power I had. JB gave me strict instructions to do crunches to help lessen the back pain by balancing out my core strength, it has helped some, but I need to do more.
The race in Massachusetts hurt, and although I was probably more prepared for that race of all my 'cross races this year, longest warmup, best rest before the race having been off for the whole thanksgiving week prior to the race, it hurt. The race was really hard, the hardest I've done this season. But it was great because I was racing with my buddy JB for the first time in a few years. I passed his sorry ass on lap two, then he crushed me on lap 4. Another big positive was that my whole family came out to watch me suffer- sisters, parents, wife, nieces, brother-in-law and future brother-in-law. Hearing them cheering made my day. Who cares if you get 59th when you have the bigggest cheering section at the finish line!
JB suffering on a run-up.Capitol 'Cross Classic
Prep for this race included a sweet dinner at Judd and Sonja's place the night before. Solid chili over pasta with a fine selection of beer, Belgian, Anchor Steam Christmas among others. Several beers and some internet motivation sent us down to the basement gym in their condo complex to contemplate setting up the treadmill in this configuration
. We did no configuring of the treadmills, power cords and general lack mischievous spirit kept us under control.
I had already determined that this would be my last C race, regardless of my placing. I had improved enough in 'cross and had two top 5 finishes this season in 4 C races (4th and 2nd). But I didn't want to move up too fast, since I know that I am not quite up to the B class snuff based on the Massachusetts B race results. I picked up Evan and Judd. Late, of course, but since I was the first one racing, it was my warmup that would suffer. We got there, and Evan and Judd, the good friends that they are, got my bike together and set up while I went and picked up my number.
Pinned and ready, I hopped on the bike and did a 10 minute pavement warmup and then headed out on the course for a lap. It seemed like a long course, not sure if it was the diverse terrain that made me think this. On a positive note, the terrain was favorable for my skill set, on the other side of the lake there was a distinctly mountain-bike-esque section up in the woods. I'll take what I can get, off in the distance you can see the course going up into the woods.
There's the hill runup.
I need to give Joe some thanks my success. He saw me heading out on a second lap of the course and was adamant that I should stop and go line up. Something along the lines, of in all the races I have seen you do, you line up too late and spend 3 laps getting up to the front... if you do at all. So I lined up in front.
It was great chatting on the line with some of the other guys I've been riding with this season. Everyone was psyched for the last local race of the season. Different races were recounted and discussed. Good stuff. Off the start I felt good and was around the top 8 guys. I started passing a few people, and we ran into the 35+ group who started 30 seconds in front of us.
On second lap, I was able to pass the final rider in my class. It happened up on the top of the woods section where the deep gravel was. Several riders had lined up on the side of the road where the was no deep slow gravel. I looked at how fast those guys were going and opted to power my way through the slow gravel. The move worked, and although I burnt a few matches on the gravel I was able to ride out the downhill and put a gap into the guys who were stuck in the slow side train.
This photo is from Kevin Dillard- he shoots all of the mid Atlantic races www.velophotos.net
I kept my foot on the gas for the rest of the race, pushing as hard as possible racing with the 35+ leaders. I kept looking back to see if anyone was chasing, no one was in sight, only where the course wrapped back in on itself did I see others. I was pretty surprised when someone did catch and pass me with authority, Nick Bax the eventual winner of the B race.
I won. It was the first individual bike race I've ever won. I was totally stoked and happy with my performance.
I cooled down and quickly changed into warmer clothes so I could head out on the course and grab some shots of the guys in the Bs.