Sunday, October 5, 2014

Mud, Sweat, And Gear CX Race Report

First cyclocross race of the season...

We get to the venue that is situated on a nice farm among the Northeast Tennessee mountains.  It was beautiful place for a race.  My teammate Trent and I go out to do some warmup laps and get an idea of what the course was going to be like, we realized that most of the competition was going to be the North Carolina guys.  Trent races road and recognized a bunch of people from the road scene.  Most of these guys had been racing a really strong road season and were at their peak.  Then it hit me...This is going to be a fast group today.

We got lined up for the 3's race with probably another 15 or so guys.  The nerves set in as they always do when I line up for the first race of the season.  When the race official blows the whistle, we all were off...Except me.  I had a good spot at the front of the line up but I missed clipping into my pedal and lost a few seconds off the back.  I came into the first turn around mid pack and just trying to hang on.  That first lap was really intense.  The course was really fast and only had a few slick spots in the back corners.  Everyone was on full gas.

Cat 3 Start Line
Around the 3rd lap I was sitting about 2/3 of the way back.  At this point, I knew where my race was going to be.  I started to hang in with a few guys and try to pull in one at a time.  A few guys were pushing the pace right at the same limits that I was.  As the race official sounded the last lap bell, it was me and one other guy racing together.  I had no chance of a stellar finish but I wanted to still race strong.  He and I powered hard through that lap.  I stayed on his wheel as much as I could but he maneuvered a technical slick section better than I did.  I tried to make up for it on the straights but he countered every effort I put out there.  At the finish chute, I was about 5 feet off his wheel and went to sprint.  I gave every ounce I had and he did the same.  We finished with about that same 5 foot margin apart from each other.

Needless to say, that race was probably one of the most intense Cat 3 cross races I've been in yet.  My fitness felt good but it just wasn't enough to compete at this race.  One thing I take from it is that I need to do a little more pre-riding before these races to make sure I know the course better.  That will help to limit a lot more of the mistakes I made out there.

With barely a 15 minute break between my races, I run back to the truck to change jerseys and knocked down a GU pack and hydrate up a bit.  I got on my single speed CX bike to ride around just a little bit and get comfortable with the gearing.  There was a pretty good turnout for the single speed race.  It was mostly filled with the Knoxville crew and a girl from the Asheville area.  At the start whistle, I actually get a good start.  I'm sitting in 3rd at the first corner behind Don Walker Cycles rider Meghan Korol and Team Aubrey's Kelly Montoya.  Meghan really put out a strong effort in that first lap and made us suffer up the switchback climb and into the slick section of the course.  This group of 3 stayed together throughout the race.

Single Speed start line.
About mid way through the race was when I made my pass and tried to hang on the front.  I didn't know either of these racers before this race and I didn't know their strengths or weaknesses at all.  I knew I was going to take the slick section conservatively and try to hammer on the straights.  While hanging off the front, I decided to attack as hard as I could out of the slick spot and take advantage of a tailwind coming out of the woods.  Each time I did this, I felt like it gave me a little extra distance to work with.  As the course was winding back and forth, I tried to gage how much of a lead I had.  There was no room to sit back.  It was full gas the whole time.

Kelly Montoya hanging tight with me out of turn two.
Luckily, I was able to hold my lead and came across the finish in first place.  This was not expected at all...I haven't seen a first place finish in a long time.  It was kind of a bittersweet moment because I was so excited about getting first and I pull over to the side of the course to only be told that the the Vols Football team lost by one point...Way to deflate a person!

Kelly Montoya (2nd Place), Jimmy Deane (1st Place), Meghan Korol (3rd Place)

All in all, it was a good weekend of racing.  I learned a lot about what I need to work on.  Time to get back to training for the next event.  As always, I want to give a shout out to my awesome wife for being there to support my races and take some awesome photos.  I also need to give a shout out to Cycology Bicycles.  This year, they have helped me to keep my bikes ready to ride and race at all times and made sure I have the parts I need to get the job done.