Monday, September 9, 2013

2013 Cyclocross Week 1 Race Reports by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

The cyclocross offseason is over. I've done my homework, i.e., trained hard and I'm ready to get my 'cross on. It was fun to race my mountain bike, mix it up in some criteriums and a TT, but my favorite racing discipline is CX... by a mile.

Winning the Without Limits Formula Four 'eliminator' race a couple weeks ago was fun but it was a preseason race. For my first official race of 2013 I lined up the C's at the Wednesday Back to Basics race in Golden. Also in attendance was official fast dude Greg Jackson making his CX debut. I lined up in the third row and got a pretty good start. I was 6th into the first corner. Greg was roughly in 3rd. I started to move forward as did Greg. When he took the lead I was in 4th. The initial pace was pretty fast so I sat in for a second to catch my breath. Once I was out of the red and feeling better I moved up into 2nd. I stayed there for the rest of the race, I couldn't close the gap to Jackson. He finished maybe 15 seconds ahead of me and I had a similar gap back to 3rd. Foxtrot on the top 2 steps of the Podium!!! The course was super loose & slick - I saw far more than the average number of spills. I barely saved going down myself by putting a foot down several times. I didn't get a chance to play with tire pressure at all - just took the bike off the car and hopped on. In my haste I didn't get my front skewer tight. After crossing the line I was able to pull out the wheel without loosening the skewer, that could have been an epic fail!!!
Kirk and Greg CX
Saturday was the Kick It Off CX TT in Fort Collins. The race was held at the former site of the USGP race. They made the course roughly twice as long as a typical course for the TT. The additional sections were pretty technical and the entire course was incredibly loose. The loose Wednesday course turned out being good prep for the loose conditions in Fort Collins. I'd done some recon on the course Friday evening so I knew what to expect. My ride was pretty clean, only one 'dab' in a 180 degree corner. I felt confident with my effort and hit a max HR of 186 for the first time in quite a while. My start was relatively early so when I finished I was in the lead. I was only on the 'hot seat' for 7 racers until I was bumped down to 2nd. One of the last racers to go pushed us both down and I finished 3rd on the day, 17 seconds behind 1st and 7 seconds down on 2nd.

On Sunday I had the third call-up based on TT result. I didn't get a good start and went around the first corner in 6th, I quickly passed to 5th and then 4th. I stayed in 4th the rest of the race. Mid-race I felt like I was starting to close on 3rd when I missed a line, had to hop off my bike unexpectedly and dropped my chain. I never got close to 3rd again. 5th place closed the gap down to 5 seconds while I was getting the chain back on but I'd stretched the gap back out to 20 seconds by the end. The 3 guys who beat me today were 1st, 2nd and 4th in the TT so they also did their homework in the off-season. Hats off to them, they clearly stronger and faster than me today.

Keeping things in perspective, the past two years that course terrified me with all it's climbing -- this year I'm just off the podium. At this time last year I'd never finished in the top half of a race, this year 3 races in and I've had a 2nd, a 3rd and a 4th... I'll take it. I had more than my fair share of mishaps last year between destroyed tires, untimely crashes and other random events. Not only did I have the close call with the loose skewer on Wednesday I also had another close call on Sunday. After the race I rode my pit bike back to the car. I was unable to un-click my right foot. During the race one of the screws loosened and ultimately fell out. The only way I was able to get that shoe disconnected from the pedal was to take it off. Had that happened mid-race I would have been completely hosed and likely ended up on the ground. With a little luck I'll continue to avoid the mishaps of 2012. It's 2013 and 13 is my lucky number.

So, in summary, it was a great start to the 2013 cross season for me!

No comments:

Post a Comment