Sunday, October 27, 2013

Race Report: Cyclo-X Xilinx by Kirk Groves (@LSVLKirk)

It's always good to see an old friend. In this case the friend is my favorite course -- Xilinx. I got in a couple laps before my race and this was a standard layout. It was fast, not too loose and there were some sections that were soft and so slow that it felt like your brakes were engaged. It was a beautiful fall day and the temperature was perfect for CX. I received a front row call-up and clicked into my pedal immediately at the start. I hopped on the wheel of the guy I strongly suspected would win (I was right). A couple guys snaked past me right as we entered the dirt but no worries -- I was in 4th. The eventual winner was getting away and the two guys in between were tiring so I made a pass on the barriers and settled into second. I wasn't able to close the gap to the leader but I was holding 2nd and could heard third breathing behind me.

I got a little sideways in a corners with some loose grass and the guy in 3rd bumped me. I went down but it was no big deal; I straightened my handlebars and hopped back on.  Ergh... My effing chain jammed again just like last week. I was able to get it unjammed fairly quickly but I'd lost probably 4 or 5 spots in the process. My chain was skipping big time but the bike was rideable. After the race I found out why it was skipping; I'd bent the chain quite a bit getting it back on.

bent chainIt wasn't too far to the pit for a bike swap, I lost another couple spots as I wasn't able to pedal hard. I got to the pit and mentally I was in a low spot. I walked across to my the other side and got my other bike without the requisite urgency. I started riding again and I wasn't giving it 100%. I was feeling sorry for myself for losing a great podium chance - pathetic. I'm kicking myself over the mental weakness today. After a lap I pulled my head out of my butt and remembered it was a race. The last two laps I was attacking and gaining spots back like I should have the previous lap. By the end I'd closed to some quick dudes and made one last pass over the barriers. I held the guy off in the sprint and finished 10th.
The guy who won will be a 3 next weekend and I know I can race with everyone else. I lost a minute in my second lap while going down and making the bike swap. My third lap was my next slowest as a result of feeling sorry for myself and having to deal with traffic. I was a minute behind 2nd -- I know I have the fitness to podium and upgrade to a 3. I just need to be smarter and ride a bit cleaner. This chain issue is avoidable if I just take a second to get the chain back on by hand before mounting and jamming it.
After spending 3 laps on my B bike I was reminded just how sweet tubulars are in CX. I was able to take the corners at a much higher speed once I adjusted to the cantilever brakes. I've been riding tubeless on my Raleigh RXC all season as I didn't have a set of disc tubulars. I love tubeless for training but there really in no substitute for tubulars for racing. The good news is that I'll be back on tubulars next weekend, a sweet set of wheels is at Foxtrot right now getting glued. I stuck around for the SM4 race and then the 3s. Greg is *awesome* and Vogel made a strong debut in the 35+ 3s.

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