Doing it all the hard way...

Friday, November 5, 2010

Race Report Steilacoom 2010

I can see my shadow. Six more weeks of cyclocross ?
We Cyclocrossers like miserable conditions. But to be completely honest, we like it to be somewhat of an exception. Typically seasons start with races in the sunshine and each race the air gets cooler, leaves get brighter and the ground gets wetter. The conditions worsen each week until the lunacy of racing in the mud, wind and rain combine with a season of fatigue, injury, illness and equipment issues to reach a welcomed season ending finale in December.

This year the first race was held in a tropical downpour and every race this season has been a soggy two part event. First is the race to the finish line, the second, and simulations race, is a competition with hypothermia. Battling the cold seems to take an even harder toll on the body. After watching the rain bomb us on Saturday, I was not excited about racing Sunday.

Getting up and brewing coffee and Bob’s Red Mill steel cut oats which are awesome with brown sugar and buttermilk, yes buttermilk (forgive the shameless plug for one of the sponsors of our racing series) before dawn I noted our deck was wet. As the light grew in the east, I saw a partly clear sky with friendly clouds. The day turned out to be bright and that was the perfect antidote for my mid season blues.

Since my last two races were on my single speed it took me a few minutes to get used to shifting again. The course was a power course with a long gradual uphill and plenty of grass. Since it was Halloween, I was in the spirit.

I typically get a good start and fade after the first lap. I got my call up to the front row; which is still a thrill, and took my spot. I hit the first corner in the middle of a 55 person pack and then a series of switchback corners on grass gave me no chance to pass. If I could get around one guy, there was another rider next to him in the line I would have used to pass. We then hit the dirt in a line and I moved up a couple spots. A sharp and loose left hand turn signaled the beginning of the climbing. The curvy path was a little wider than singletrack with only one sharp corner; it ascended to the top of the course. I flew past people. I hit the top in much better position and spent the rest of the race moving past people. I thought I finished about 13th, but in fact ended up 19th. I guess the real fast guys just rode off the front and I didn’t see them at all. It was a nice course with four distinct sections so mentally you couldn’t get too far ahead of yourself.

My bike collected some wet mud, but I ended up fairly clean. After washing my face off I went to help Hottie photograph the other races. Since it was sunny I didn’t need to carry an umbrella, so I just carried her bag. She never opened it, so I have no idea what was in it.

I’m still 8th in points in the series, so I should enjoy one more week on the front row. After this weekend there is a break in the series so I can regroup for the final push of the last two Seattle races, Portland and Bend.

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