Let's FLY over the barriers !!
Back in 2005 Hottie suggested we go and watch a pro bike race down in Tacoma at Fort Steilacoom. It didn’t take long for me to convert to the Gospel of Cyclocross. Two weeks later I was racing. Every race at Ft. Steilacoom since has been special.
We brought along the woman who has come to be known as the Cyclocross Superfan; Betty the (Cyclocross) Beast! She came with cowbell in hand and peanut butter and jelly sandwich in her padlocked purse.
Betty the (Cyclocross) Beast a.k.a Superfan on the right, Granddaughter Sophie on the left
We arrived just before the first race took off. We managed to find a spot and soon the team tent went up and lawn chairs and trainers were out.
Our team has opted to throw its support behind the MFG series this year, so our numbers at this Seattle Cyclocross event were thinner. Seph snagged a fifth place in his race, which had a field of seventy young studly riders. Leann had a good finish in her race as well.
Matthew was among the select few who met for some Cyclocross practice Saturday morning. We practiced turns, starts and some hot laps at a local park. Our morning practice ended when Matthew ducked under a branch whilst taking a turn and the branch caught his helmet, then his glasses, then cut his nose, and finally sliced his eyelid.
We had one of our quiver of doctors riding with us and Matthew is an RN himself. Soon Matthew’s wounds had been cleaned and he had ice on his face. He got a ride home and just based on how Matthew was talking, I fully expected to see him at the race Sunday.
Sure enough Matthew rolled up to the tent on Sunday with his right eye purple and swollen shut. He came to race. I’ll just call him “Blood and Guts” henceforth.
Blood and Guts and I took a couple laps and Matthew was running a notubes front tire. With a belch sound, his tire flatted and he was walking back to look for a pump. He didn’t mention that he was looking for a sign from a higher power to help him decide if he was supposed to ride or not, but things were lining up for a good day for him.
Our race was at 1:30, which is pretty late in the day, especially a hot day, for Davo to race. My daughter and her family came so I had four generations of fans rooting for me. How could I fail?
Kyson enjoying the day and the races
Clayton isn't even two weeks old and he is cheering on Grandpa Davo
I'm not sure what he did wrong, but I'm sure choking him stopped it..
Blood and Guts himself had crashed in a bloody mess at the start of this race last year on the rough pavement and that thought was heavy on my mind at the start. As a result I found myself pretty much at the back of the pack a minute into the race. That wasn’t the plan. I began to move up.
After a set of grassy zig zags and barriers at speed (way to go SCX !) we were squirted onto a hundred meters of singletrack then a long loose section where I blitzed past a few riders. Then we took a sharp loose left hand turn onto dusty climb where I continued to move up. Then a soft switchback and the climbing continued. The middle of this portion was loose dust with a wider trail of grass on the left and a narrow patch of trail on the right side. As I expected everyone went left and I took the right side and moved up.
There was a long downhill on gravel that claimed more than a few riders. My daily commute includes a short gravel section and my training from that has taught me to shift my weight back and let it ride. That worked well and I was able to survive all five laps of my race. On the last lap a rider from Blue Rooster was in a heap and had to leave the race in an ambulance. We were then slaloming around big trees before attacking the final climb.
After the climb we were spilled out on a short section of single track. The single track here started the day with a couple patches of dusty potholes and evolved into a long skinny beach of loamy quicksand. That sand grabbed two riders in front of my on the first lap and pulled them down on the right side as if they had been tacked by linebackers. I jumped from the right to the left side and, adopting the racers mentality, I dismissed them with narcissistic indifference. I wouldn’t see them again today.
A short steep descent on a glass smooth road with a dusty sheen led to a sharp left onto loose bark then some grassy turns, two more barriers, again at speed, and then you cross the line.
I continued to move up and can’t recall being passed by anyone. I was catching single speeders who started a minute ahead of us and I spotted Spinner John struggling just ahead of me on his single speed. I had been chasing a rider in my cat and he passed Spinner John and John asked him if he was a Cat 3 racer.
There are three races at my time; single speed men, Cat 3 men 45+ and Cat ½ Women. Now let’s fire up our powers of deduction. The guy who passed Spinner John was on a geared bike and he didn’t have boobs. It therefore strikes me as a dumb question. Although it was only the second lap, John was gassed and couldn’t have chased anyway. Just before entering the single track I blitzed past John on his right and said, “All us 3’s look the same.” It startled John and I felt bad for a second. Maybe two seconds, no… as I think about it just one second.
I moved up and up passing riders on single speed bikes as well as my own category. On the last lap I was passed by the first woman who gave me a warning shout; “on the inside.” I gladly swung wide and thanked her for the verbal warning. Riding her wheel was a guy I had passed earlier.
“Hey, I opened that spot for her,” I said out loud as he pulled along side me on a sweeping right hand turn. Before he could respond his front wheel slid out and he went tumbling off course as I smiled and realized there was no need to say another word.
I settled in and on my last lap I committed my own mortal sin of waiting to pass a rider I was chasing. I was behind him at the barriers eighty meters from the line and he remounted and cut off my line as the course swung left and I tried to go right and ran out of room. Will I ever learn?
I finished 24th of 42 fast guys and know I can do better. I was pleased. Blood and Guts grabbed a top ten with a ninth.
I had dust in my eyes on my teeth and my legs looked like I had spent the summer in Arizona. I was tired and glad to be done. My fans came over and we had pasta on the deck and enjoyed our Indian summer evening. Or is that a Native America Summer now?