Monday, November 24, 2014

CX Take Two - Cyclo X Louisville

You want to see something comical?  Come watch Jeremy attempt to ride a highly technical course on his second attempt at cyclo x.  Special thanks to Ox (Brad) for loaning me his Blue Norcross bike for the race!  And to Kirk, who braved the cold morning and came out to support us at 8AM.  Finally, I appreciate Kirk, Adam, Greg, Dave, and Andy for giving me some pointers at the team's pre-ride on Friday afternoon.

Saturday's field of SM5's seemed huge to me: 55 according to the results page, including Foxtrot teammate Adam Gordon.  When the whistle went off, I dropped as much power as I possibly could (hamsters in their wheels everywhere were jealous), while being in the middle of a huge crowd and with an inability to actually click into my pedals.  Adam dropped me as I looked down fumbling with my pedals and I never saw him again.

Enter the bottleneck, hard left, and up the steep hill.  Most guys were falling over and/or dismounting, but I just found a granny gear and crawled up.  I managed to pass a host of folks at the top as they tried to remount.  Times like this must be entertaining to watch for more experienced CX racers as the SM5's all struggle with fundamental skills!

Listening to teammates like Andy, I intended to go out hard in the red, but there was so much traffic I was just sitting in on the technical stuff and trying to make passes at any spot that I felt had enough room to make a move.

The sand pit was a calamity of clumsiness for most of the SM5s on each lap.  Of note, on the second lap, I hit the sand pit with as much speed as I possibly could and the guy in front me stopped dead and started to fall to his left directly in my path.  With full momentum, my brake/hood went right up his backside and I barely saved myself from going over the front.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get back into my pedals (again) so I lost a number of spots as I couldn't get back into them until I was just passed the lap line.

The only complication on the third and final lap was a blister on the palm of my right hand, so bad that I could only use my thumb and forefinger to comfortably hold the handlebar.  I think that the blister cost me one more spot in the final 200m as I had set myself up to pass another rider on the final climb, but I couldn't hold the handle bars steady.  So, I had to bleed a lot of speed going in to the climb and just didn't have enough juice to get by him on the short sprint to the finish.

I had a lot of fun and probably had a huge goofy smile on my face the whole time.  There's just something hilarious about a "pace yourself" distance runner riding a glorified road bike off-road with no regard for a consistent effort.

Oh yeah, I finished 22nd in SM5, but my own personal measure of success was avoiding DFL or DNF.  No crashes was a nice bonus too, compared to my first CX race where I pulled myself off the turf no less then five times.  But, candidly, the fact that I didn't crash in this race had more to do with the lack of snow, plus the slow pace of traffic in the technical sections, then some new found ability to ride CX!

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