I said I'd only come out for the races that meant something to me. I pinned a number for Lucky. It was the first race I've done since Nationals 2017. As many of you know, these days I prefer wider tires, bigger squish, and possibly a chairlift. I no longer "train" and l don't have the fitness I used to. So be it.
I went into the race to push myself, have fun, and I didn't set any goals other than to finish. What I lacked in fitness on the course I think I made up for with handling and goofing off (sending it over the roots before the off-camber stuff). I loved getting chased by the kids in the playground and even sat down at one point to regather myself. It was great to see everyone - even the surprised faces with "is that Robin Dunn racing?" comments.
I had a great time and was reminded why I started racing CX - the community of incredible people. Thank you!
I had zero expectations racing Saturday at LCCX. Between setting up from 10-6 on Friday and then working the race from 6a-7p I was debating even putting a number on because I was so beat. I didn't think I'd have any juice left to ride a bike hard. So with very little warmup after starting the 1/2/3 women I jumped on the bike and pedaled a little bit and got to the line. The whistle blew and I hit it as hard as I could to try and get to the front. I knew the lines in the clover so I wanted to try and get to that first. It almost worked as around the field I was in 2nd and by the 180 I tried to sneak into the front but couldn't make it stick. I was 2nd into the clover and then saw the gap in front of me starting to open. I knew I couldn't keep 1st places pace but I was just going as hard as I could to keep the gap at a minimum. It was much greasier than I anticipated and I kept losing the front wheel around a few corners but didn't go down. I rode the stairs the day before and tried in lap 1, but there was no way. It was way to slick and chewed up. So I lost a few seconds there on the bobbled dismount and kept on it. I didn't realize how big the rut was in the off camber as well so I went into that blind and made it ok but had to go slower than I wanted. I did ok but that hill from the bottom up was killing me. That's where my legs were falling apart. My next lap I was bleeding time and just trying to get the energy back. I think it was lap 2(1?) that @UtahJoe got through me and I already thought my race might be over as I headed up that greasy hill again. I was getting tired quickly.
The next two laps were a blur but I did see @Norm behind me and @choop not too far off as well. I knew I had to keep on the gas to try and not lose any more places. At some point Charlie got past Norm and I saw him closing on me. With 2 to go I couldn't see Utah any more and Charlie was closing and I thought there was a slim chance I could hold off Charlie and I was going to give it my all to do so. With 1 lap to go he was close but I had to hit the hill flawless and get to the clover and I could just barely hold him off. Of course on the greasy climb by the tent a guy in front of me stepped off his bike and blocked me and I thought it was all over. I had to step to the side and then put everything I had down to get to that clover. I knew Charlie was going to catch me at any second. I hit the first 180 in the clover and he was right there but I accelerated out of every corner like the finish line was right there while I had NOTHING left. Over the barriers and around the final 180 he was right there but somehow I was still ahead. I crossed the line in 4th of 14 racers. I finished very happy to actually have raced and not been spit out the back in the first two laps. I felt tired going into the race but also like a cold was coming on and maybe it did. I still feel really tired and kinda crummy today.
Fun race. Good vibes when we showed up around 11. We set up tent and welcomed everyone into it. Well we had to cause we cut off the course crossing. but its all good cause we are friendly folks. At least my wife and the boy are. We get the bikes aired up and check out the course. I put mud tires on the boy's bike so he would have a bit more bite on the off camber sections. I had the Terreno Wet on mine cause I thought the course was going to be a bit thicker as it dried out. Not so much. It dried out more than I thought. We get back to the tent and debate if I should change tires. That decision avoided as I do other things like getting changed and eating a PBJ. Then its time to get another lap in between races. I make no decision and its now time to fit another lap in. The boy is handling all the off camber and climbs really well and I am getting pretty excited to watch him. I jump on the rollers to warm up and head to the grid.
The good part of a small field at the first race of a series, is you get a front row call up at the next race. I am a bit more nervous now that I am in the big boy's 1/2/3/4 40+ race. That might have contributed to my crappy start. I work my way back through a bit but make stupid little mistakes along the way. Then rush to make up for them, and make more stupid mistakes. I remember getting back to the pavilion on the first lap and shaking my head. All I know is there are times when you feel like you and the bike are one. This was not one of them.The second lap I try to calm down as I recognize that if I don't this is going to spiral quick. I think it was on the begining of the third lap I see @Norm up ahead and I aim sight to reel him in. I take the gravel corner by the pavilion a bit to hot and I lose my front wheel and go down. Mud tires are not gravel tires. I might have forgotten I didn't have the shoulders on the tires to grab. I finally make the catch to him on the second hill and tell him to latch on. The Cat 3's are now filtering through and I try to use them when I can to bridge up to @xc62701. I get within a few seconds of Ryan, then I lose a few seconds. This was the story of the last 2 laps. On the final lap I am a few bike lengths away on the final climb but can't quite get even with him. If he entered the infield before me, I knew it would be tough to pass him. He was riding that well and not giving up any space. So he beats me to the line. I roll over and tell him that was a lot of fun. Results later showed I was 5th. Emailed results showed 6th. Whatever. I didn't have my best day on the bike but felt like I can sorta hang in the middle of this field. I am hoping to upgrade this season and this group will be my future, so I got a bit of confidence from this race.
So I am done and grab a bottle and head to the grid for the start of the juniors race. Kids are hanging out and its fun to watch. Whistle blows and off they go. The boy gets a good start but he's the runt of the class and 24" wheels can't always compete with 26" and 700's. He is riding really well and I am doing the obnoxious dad thing cheering. He was a bit bummed that the off camber section by the tennis courts was cut out for the juniors. He liked that a lot on the pre ride. It did make for a really fun race to watch with the shorter laps though. The boy finished 6th and was pretty excited.
We chit chat with everyone and start packing up. We bring an extra bike home for him to try out to see if a 26" is in the near future. 1.5 hours later were are in the driveway and doing backyard laps on the loaner. Then I spend a few hours changing tires and getting bikes ready for Cooper River the next day.
4 am. I'm awake. An hour early. Within a few minutes I realize my brain is on and its not turning off. I lay awake with eyes closed thinking if I can't sleep, I am sure going to pretend I am. 5 am finally rolls around and I start getting stuff ready. Bagel with honey is eaten as I fill water bottles. 5:30 I wake everyone else up for a 5:45 departure. I wasn't expecting that to happen at all, but somehow we were rolling out of the driveway on time. Uneventful drive of a little over an hour and we get to the park at 7. Thats an hour to get dressed, check out the course and warm up. I get the boy on course for a few laps. Its soggy in all the wrong places. The long carpet thick grass is now also soggy and riding really slow. Other course changes from years past was the barrier location and bit more of the course on the other side of the finish. Overall its as good of a course as you can get in that park. I decide that its better to just warm up on course at this point than taking the time to set up rollers.
I finish warming up and the legs feel ok considering LCCX the previous afternoon. I have never doubled up before so I wasn't sure what to expect. But I felt like it was no worse than doing intervals back to back. Everyone is waiting for call ups. We are behind schedule and a tow truck comes on through. Apparently a car is on the road and needs to move before they start. We are delayed 20 or so minutes. The 4/5 class goes and then they call us, the 4/5 40+, up to the grid. I take a spot on the front row. Official gives 1 minute. Then 30 seconds and I swear they used 29 of those seconds before blowing the whistle. We head down the road and I settle in 4th when we turn off the road. The typical jockeying for position is occurring and I lose a spot and take it back on the initial sweepers. One of my goals is to learn to how to race in a pack and as long as I see the leader on the front, I am not sweating it too much. The guy on the front is working hard and I am sitting in, there are a few bobbles along the way but the group stays together until we get to the mini sand pit. There are few hiccups on the up and down twists and I move up a few spots. The end of lap 1 I am 3rd but someone else takes the lead and opens up the gap a bit. I decide to show some patience and see if #2 is going to close it down. He doesn't and I think he is nearing his limit. I come around when he puts a foot down and realize its now on me to close it down. I get to the barriers and I have one or two guys with me. Remember at LCCX where me and the bike were divorced? Not today. I am putting the wheels into every corner and everything is flowing. Such a good feeling. I am slowly dragging #1 back and realize I am alone. The grass is thick and mushy and a real power suck. I get back to the road and its 2 laps to go. Nothing really changes. I am working. I am as smooth as I can be over the barriers and the gap is staying at 10 seconds. I no longer see anyone behind me in the corners so I feel I am pretty safe but I really wanted to close down #1, but I couldn't. I finish up second 9 seconds back.
I told the boy to be waiting for me and as soon as I rolled through the finish I would do another lap in between races with him. He looks good. I can't hold his wheel. I guess that is good. Its just him and another boy from NJCXP that he likes so they are chit chatting on the start line. It was super cute and I felt good that he is meeting other kids and having fun. Not that it ever was "I am doing this cause its what my dad does", but there is always a fear in me that he is just following and not forging his own path. Maybe that is a bit deep for a 9 year old. They start. He is riding really well again and I am cheering but there isn't much for me to say. He's hitting the lines, blasting through the sand and powering up all the inclines. So fun to watch. He finishes second in a field of 2.
We all do the podium thing and grab food and watch some more races. Pack the car and head home. Super fun weekend of racing.
This week's existence of me was "meh" at best. I couldn't put down much power on my scheduled workouts and felt like I couldn't recover enough from last week at Bridgeton. My diet was off and sleep was erratic and shorter than previous weeks. Even being able to wake up and hit the road at 6:30am instead of 4:45-5am I still did not feel really motivated. Nonetheless, roll into the lot at 7 and hit the course for a pre-ride. I think to myself that this course is going to be tough. Definitely a FUN course though complete with stairs, sand, a couple of climbs, twisties in a clover (my Strava ride looked awesome), off-cambers, and power sections.
Get 2nd call-up, whoo! We tease the drone flying overhead for a few seconds and the whistle goes. I've got to say that starts so far this year have been near perfect, clipping in and nailing the right gear selection for the prologue. I strike a pedal on a rogue rock on the gravel road leading into the tape farm clover (foreshadowing for events in the next 4 minutes) but recover and still maintain 3rd into the clover. Just through the finish line chaos ensued with the gravel left hander that would give people trouble all day. I threw down my inside leg and keep rubber side down into the stairs and sand. We all take the high line into the first off-camber smacking the tree as each person passed through into the FAST road/double track section down. Strava shows me at 21mph at this spot in 2nd place where I quickly come to the realization that my 33c PDXs are not 2.4 ardents and I'm coming in WAY TOO HOT for the first right hander around the tree and back up to the climb to the old lodge. Feathering of the brakes did little to slow my 100kg (you can do the math) body and I touched the brakes a bit too much, breaking traction on both the front and rear tires turning me into a large yeti on ice. I lay off the brakes and try to drop a foot and ride out whatever part of the turn I could with no luck. I go down on my right side HARD, along with one other guy, who blows through the tape. In the carnage I managed to jam so much mud into my shifter I was picking out grass and mud the entire next lap, stripped my buckle system on my shoes, and jammed a cleat forward in the shoe.
Looking back at the events leading up to that, I was just too amped that I was riding fast and keeping with the leaders and the excitement overcame my self-preservation instinct and rode outside of my still developing cross skills for the morning conditions. This was around 8 minutes into the race so given my lack of experience and even more lack of experience riding at the front of a group, I went too hard at a pace and effort I couldn't hold for the full 40 minutes and it was apparent when I went down. I tried hard after that to battle back and burnt a few too many matches trying to catch up the next lap and spent the next lap recovering a bit more and letting anyone pass me. The second time around the fast road/double track section my top speed through that had dropped to 15mph and I was so rattled. I kept powering through though and battled back and forth with a couple of guys who had some misfortune like my own; one went down hard as he took the right hander onto the road a bit wide and went off the pavement and another who went down in the sand and kept dropping his chain.
Each lap I gradually became smoother and regained most (not all) of my confidence, although at this point I had blown up and was trying to survive. As we rolled into the final lap, I wanted to desperately keep off an upcoming attack, but didn't have the legs or lungs to match him and let him pass as we entered the clover tape farm one last time. Looking at the bright side (if you can look at it that way), is that being one of the last guys to finish on the lead lap you get an extra 4-5 minutes of racing and practicing over the front of the pack.
Overall, I still had a blast and looking back at the course, it was laid out very well and had a ton of varied features; some of which I cursed not because of the layout or how it was designed, but because of my lack of fitness or skills. I cleaned up, and watched most of the day's races, meeting a lot of new people and just enjoying the cross atmosphere.
Late Saturday night my right elbow started to hurt a bit and I couldn't rest any of my weight on it and within a couple of hours it had swelled up making it impossible to move through the full range of motion. I shake it off and go to bed, thinking that it'll be better in the morning. I woke up later than usual on Sunday since I blew off Cooper River in favor of having an easy road ride and relaxing for the day...However, my elbow is worse now - bright red along the joint, swollen to about the size of a racquetball, and HOT to the touch. Shit...To make matters worse, I felt feverish and a quick thermometer reading confirmed, 101.5 degrees. I ice up the elbow and lay around most of the day pondering my decision to go to urgent care (which I postponed to this morning). Overnight my fever broke, but still woke up to a very sore and swollen elbow. I paid a visit to urgent care where x-rays showed no fracture or bone chipping (yay!), but diagnosed with olecranon bursitis. The fever the day before could've been a combination of an oncoming infection in the bursa and/or overtraining and lack of recovery and my body finally caved. I'm prescribed some Naproxen and Augmentin to battle both a suspected infection and reduce the pain and inflammation. Thankfully I have a bit of time to take it easy and recover before my next scheduled race at Hippo Cross in 2 weeks. I don't do very well at resting, especially if it's forced, but I know there's still a long road of racing ahead this season and seasons to come so I need to do it right, listen to my body, and manage my injuries.
Race number 4 on the season. When looking at the registration page, I saw there was a Cat 4 option at 11:00 that I opted for over the 40+ 4/5 at 8:00. I graduated from Rowan University (formerly Glassboro State) which is a figurative stone's throw from the race venue, so I know this is a LONG drive, and I was happy to get the extra sleep with the later start. Race predictor had me at 16 of 22, fair enough. Without doing any real research, I feel that the line between Cat 4 and Cat 5 might be somewhat blurred in that I have beaten some 4s and have been beaten by some 5s and vice versa. I guess this is also part of the reason they're combined at some (most?) events. It's been over 20 years since I've seen this sign:
Anyway, I am up at a more human hour than usual for these races and on the road by 7:40. This gets me to the venue at 9:30 giving me a solid 90 minutes to prepare waste before the gun goes off. I know that there won't be any orange and blue in attendance with the big wedding (congrats again @Norm and @Dominique ). I did run into a few familiar faces though including @Superfly100guy and Rutgers Cycling Phenom Ethan Bull. I jokingly asked Ethan not to lap me in the race to which he smiled. In reality, he didn't actually lap me at the last race, but if I can help ease any pre-race jitters, I am happy to do so. I did my usual routine of rolling around, hydrating, getting my bike ready, etc, and somehow didn't make it to the line until 10:59 announcing to the official that 771 is in fact here. I guess I'll add time management to the long list of things I need to work on. As I am in my tuxedo jersey, someone turns around from the front line to say "it's about time someone took a formal approach to cycling" which helps lighten the mood again. On that note, several people have asked me over the last few races what happened to all the other tuxedos.
Team Tuxedo (aka Five and a half Freds) circa 2016:
From the left are Mike the Cop (aka Rossi) who has not been motivated to ride much after a dominating Cat 2 MTB season a couple years back, Mike the Chiropractor (aka Foctor Grant...that's not a typo) who mainly just rides his Harley now and his son Julian, team Captain Bill (aka Dove) who is now living large (mainly his waistline) in South Carolina, Yours Truly, and Joaquin who now does all his biking from a kayak with a fishing pole. We're all still super close, but the picture above, which I believe was from a short track race, might be the last time we all rode bikes together at the same time.
So onto the race. This would be the third time I've ridden my new to me Boone, but the first time with PDXs and the hoods angled up. I really appreciate all the good advice on these items from other threads (too many of you to tag, but you know who you are if reading, so thanks again!) As I had mentioned in my previous recap, the starts typically make me a little nervous. However, with a smaller field, this one didn't seem nearly as hairy as some others, but I was still somewhat conservative and fell into my usual position of 3-4 from DFL. Up the gravel and onto the grass we go, and as we hit the first bit of mud, I could instantly tell that the PDX will now be my tire of choice. I am actually hoping for some even slicker conditions (maybe not Nittany slick) in future races to see how well they hold up. As alluded to earlier, I didn't use my pre-race time wisely enough to get a course preview lap, so that would have to be done on lap #1. Earlier, I had overheard someone say that this was a mountain biker's course, which peaked my interest. Now to be clear, in no way do I consider myself to be much of a mountain biker at all, but I am somewhat surprised to see guys putting a foot down as we enter the woods. Don't get me wrong, I am an expert at putting my foot down, but it's usually due to the presence of rocks, of which this course had none. This creates a little bit of log jamming, but still plenty of racing to go. Once we got out of the woods, I would make every effort to lay the down watts where I could. The second woods section featured some additional mud to further test the PDXs and three very rideable log steps(?) which I ran the first time as others were doing around me (yeah, I know a pre-ride would have helped here). This was also the section that had the hecklers which I find to be a very enjoyable aspect of these races. The tuxedo earned me heckles of "fancy man," "fancy pants," and "fancy" and I would ride this section with no issues the next four laps. As we got closer to the end of the first lap, I came up on a Jalopeno racer and told him we should work together to pull some others in. He got a bit of a chuckle when I nearly overcooked a hairpin turn that again, a pre-ride would have prepared me for. There was a long stretch of sand that I had seen everyone running in the 50+ race earlier. I made one attempt to ride it, only making it about 25% through before dismounting and attempting to "run". On the next four laps, I would try to channel my inner 800 meter runner coming down the homestretch before my legs would remind me, "Hey dickhead, that was 25 years ago." There was also a very rideable "run-up" that I small-ringed and got caught up behind one guy on lap 1, but would ride the next four laps easily.
I was already feeling much more comfortable on the Boone than expected, so I started to push things a bit more on the second lap. I might have gotten a little too confident as I slid out going into the woods. For a brief moment, I thought I might have messed my gears up and took about 20 seconds or so of fumbling to get back on my way. I'm sure that anyone else who has ever made a mistake in a race knows that 20 seconds can feel like an eternity, and in this case, it caused me to bleed four spots, all of which I was eventually able to get back later in the race. While I know that my fitness is not quite where I want it to be after slacking for most of this year, the other thing I kept thinking about was all the free watts I was missing out on by braking too much, not carrying more speed through a section, etc...this is something I know @Delish has discussed in the past. For those of you who don't know, this guy really knows what he's talking about and has the resume to back it up, so be sure to listen when he talks. As for my race within a race, I ended up in a friendly mini battle with the Jalopeno racer and a HB racer, both of who had passed me when I had my earlier mishap. I could tell that Jalopeno was riding a little smoother, but I seemed to have the better legs. I glanced back several times after passing both of them to see that HB had fallen off but Jalopeno was keeping me honest. I was confident that if I could hold him off by the time I got to the last beach run, I would win our battle. I did, and when I no longer saw him close behind, I knew it would take something like my bike exploding to reverse this as I ended up with a 29 second margin. I ended up finishing 13 of 21 on the lead lap, so I was happy to better my predicted finish and keep things together after what could have been a very costly mistake. I rolled around for a bit, congratulated soon to be Cat 3 Ethan on his 2nd place, and packed it up for the day. I had thought about sticking around for the A race, but it was already getting late and I knew I had the long drive home to see my family who has been an awesome support system for their husband and dad riding circles in the grass on what are already time constrained weekends. Once again, Tom Mains did the scoring, and I am highly impressed with his work. Results were posted quickly and were emailed along with lap times shortly after I got home. While I wasn't fast, I was at least consistent as my lap times would show:
9:27 (due to 20ish second mishap)
So, in closing, a lot of work to be done on my end, but I am definitely hooked and looking forward to the rest of the season (next up is Kutztown) and beyond. Thanks for reading.
I was really hoping that Fridays wind would dry out the course from Thursdays rain. So much so that I left the mixed tires on my bike. You must keep the PMA. So we get to the course and set up the tent and immediately change the tires to muds. The 50+ race was finishing up and it was just a sea of dejected faces crossing the line.
We say hi to the folks we know, walk the course looking for any grass and jump on the rollers to warm up a few times. @xc62701 told me we we didn't have to race, but I think we were pot committed at this point. We line up in the grid. The start was super short with two hard 90º turns, so I had no interest in contesting the holeshot in our field of 9. This race was going to be such a disaster you could make up and lose spots all over the place. So I get into the course in 7th or 8th position and by the time we head into the lower field I move into 4th. Brian L passes me on the first lap and I settle into 5th and sit there for the rest of the race.
In all honesty there isn't much to write about. The lap times explain it all. I am usually pretty good at finding my legs and hammering out pretty even splits. Not in these conditions though. Once the bottom bracket and frame filled with mud, it was just about doing the best you could with the legs you had.
Laps 1 and 2 were pretty good. Lap 1 I rode the long slog of a hill and the NJCXP kids were cheering for me to ride the gravel wall so did that too. Lap 2 I felt like I was still holding it together. Lap 3 the extra mud on the bike started to really bear down on the legs. Lap 4 my back started to scream on the climb. Lap 5 I lost all smoothness in the transitions from dismounting to running (I think that's what I was doing. It might have been glorified power walking). Lap 6. Well I missed the time cut so -1 for me. I really wanted to finish on the lead lap, I also really wanted to not ride anymore. The reality was that on the last 2 laps it was torture just to turn the cranks. I might be most proud that I wrenched my bike well enough that I didn't have any mechanical failures.
Looking at the numbers afterwards I was surprised that my hear rate was a bit low. It was steady in the low end of my threshold zone, but it felt like I was working higher than it was. The last 2 laps it dropped a bit and I think it was because it was just a muscular effort. My cadance was dropping and wasn't staying high enough to keep the aerobic effort going. My heart rate was highest when I was running. My power was garbage, but I was expecting that with all of the running and low cadence.
Next we cheered on the kids. The boy was racing his new 26" bike and was pretty stoked. He rode pretty dam well and it was a ton of fun watching them on the shortened course knocking out 2-3 minute laps. They did have to do barriers 8 or 9 times though. That was some serious penance for missing out on the muddy lower part of the course.
We clean up, pack the car, exchange farewells and head home and order a pizza. I then spend the next 2-3 hours washing and tearing apart the bike and building it back up again. I think the only thing that didn't come off the bike was cable housing. and I bet there is mud in there too.
Hippo was epic conditions. When I pulled up and heard that there were lots of chain drops, mechanicals, and snapped derailleurs, I was really having second thoughts about racing. But this is what we do. Prepared or not I came there for a reason so what the hell. In one last line of defense I sprayed my entire drivetrain with chain lube - pam would have been better but it was all I had. This might have helped keep my chain less gunked up and my gear running a littel better longer.
I got to the line and like @choop said, it was a small field so no need to go crazy as it would sort out early. We jumped off the line and I had no preride so I had no idea what was going on. To top it off I was cold and it was hard to get the legs to get going. So we hit the first couple of turns, and then dropped into the back field where the deep mud crossings were. I tried riding a few and then running a few but when I hopped off my bike I didn't even want to try. I was not into it. I actually walked a few of the first greasy uphills wondering why I was doing this. I had to convince myself that I needed to go faster or there was no need being out there. At one point as I was trudging through the mud I looked back to see no one behind me and then I got some motivation.
I didn't want to travel there and put down a crappy effort or bag the race so I started to pick up the pace and look for better lines and strategies to get through the muck. I did find a better groove but it wasn't enough and it was way too late to start making up many places. I got through a few and was happy to finish 6th, a lap down. For me it was all about getting to the end of this race. I hope mother nature takes it a little more kind on us. I don't mind a bit of mud and slick conditions but those quagmires were a whole different story. I was happy to have this one behind me.
I signed up to help promote the ladies Cat 1/2 field. I knew I'd be DFL but was supporting the promoter and ladies payout. After helping set up the course Friday and not getting home until 11:30 only to get up at 5 am Saturday to return for registration...I wasn't in the mood to race (as probably expressed by my Medium face at registration).
That morning I said "I'm not racing". In fact, I gave my pit bike away for the rest of the season. But a friend registered in our race because she said she saw my name. How can you not race? I worked registration until 30 minutes before my race. Quick changed and pinned my number. I gave up my start position knowing I was only going to be in the way of all the other ladies. My warm up and preride were the first lap. The start was a riot - the official casually said "go" and none of us moved, thinking it was a joke. Then we laughed and off I went. I was DFL before the barriers. I was off my bike more than on - by the time I got to the woods, my bike was so caked it in mud and grass, I had to stop to clean it. I had every intention of running but ended up walking.
I made it through 1.5 laps before @seanrunnette announced "Robin Dunn is Done". Then Lance told me to get off the course. I was handed a beer as soon as I got off the course, washed my bike and cleaned up/changed before my race was even finished.
I have never voluntarily DNF'd. This was the first - but it was worth it. In the past, I would have kept going until either a mechanical or finished. At this point in my "career", it doesn't matter. It's supposed to be fun - and I laughed and smiled the entire time.
Thanks to all who came out to support. I enjoyed seeing everyone at registration and catching up with people.
What an epic day (take that however you like). Immediately after hitting the road I was greeted with rain showers the entire drive to Frenchtown, which seems to be the theme for this year's season...Wet, slick, and MUDDY. I can't wait for bitter cold, sunny, dry days ahead......
Huge field of Cat 5s, I think around 53 total which was exciting knowing that I'd have a better chance of finding a battle or two throughout the race. Front row callup again and taking a valuable lesson from Lucky Charm I managed my exertion out of the start into the back to back 90 degree turns and staying near the front into the barriers where it was pleasant before dropping down into the mud bogs of hell.
At 8:30am, believe it or not, the course hadn't completely blown apart into a drivetrain Armageddon, but it was damn near close where we were left with about a foot wide path to hit or else we'd be sunk into bottom bracket deep muck, one of those which took a fellow Jalapeno rider down into the depths in the first lap. A lot of us mortals were doing a routine of ride a little, splash into mud, turn, pedal hard, stall out, run, remount - rinse and repeat for the whole lower section into the slog back up toward the upper section. By managing my matches I caught a series of riders each lap who burnt all of theirs trying to power pedal through endlessly deep and thick muck. One thing I have noticed is that I've picked up on the skill of running vs riding very quickly this season, although I may be too quick to switch to run mode but overall it seems to have helped close some gaps and set up a pass shortly after.
The rest of the race leading up to the final lap was fairly uneventful, catching a position or two each lap in the lower section and up the climb back up to the barriers where many had resorted to just walking the long stretch. Going into the final lap the 4/5 Master's leader Fedor passed me into the final turn to take the win in his race, but the leader in the 5s was still out on course meaning I think I had a lap to go. Roll through the finish line and hear nothing, no bell for the final lap or whistle to pull me as I pass the officials table and give them a questionable shoulder shrug and they keep me going...Great.....one more lap to go. At this point I'm in no man's land, the next racer is a good distance ahead and I can't see anyone behind me. The master's 50s and 60s must've gotten the go ahead to pre-ride so I had to battle with preriders floating around the course (although much faster and smoother than I) not sure who was still in the race and who was pre-riding. Up the long slog one last time I catch a Rutgers rider and roll through the finish not entirely sure WTF happened that final lap and would I get the -1 or get a time.
Results get posted and I finished on the lead lap. In fact, second to last guy to finish on the lead lap at a time of 48:52 with around 32 or 33 racers finishing a lap down. I consistently get the most of my reg money by getting an extra 7-9 minutes each race, so I'll look at it as extra practice and training. By the end of the season I'd like to shorten that gap to get closer to that 40 minute mark and push harder in the laps leading up to the final lap.
Laps: 12:11, 8:45, 9:31, 10:00, 9:58
I'm now at the 5 races mark (6 counting Marty CX 2 years ago) so technically I could upgrade to the 4s now and get a later start time and settle into my forever cat home or stick out the 5s and grind the next few races which will likely put me at a mandatory upgrade right after Bubble if my schedule pans out. HPCX and Supercross is 4/5 together anyway so I wouldn't notice a huge difference in the larger races, much like the previous MAC races this year. What would change is the NJCX races (Bubble, Sussex, Apple, and Westwood) which gives me 4 good chances to feel out Cat 4 before the end of the season leading into next year. Still kind of torn has I've learned a lot just racing this season and sticking in the 5s gives me a little more confidence, but getting faster is about putting yourself in uncomfortable situations right?
With Marty's cancelled the next race on my schedule is likely Crossasaurus on Sunday since unfortunately I'm working Saturday so Kutztown is out of the picture. HPCX weekend is the following weekend and I'm hoping to do my first double then.
So I have only done a couple races the last two years, and race to have fun and push myself. It's hard to fit the real training time in. Decided to do Hippo again, Cat 5 mens, and signed up last week.
Arrived with little to no time to warm up ( couldnt get the dog back inside at 6am) registered for my one day (need to eliminate that step and just get a license) and decided to use the old TCX with canti's as to not risk destroying the disc BMC I mostly use for road - Bad choice #1. Didn't get around to buying PDX's or another real mud tire - bad choice #2.
My late sign up put me in the last row of 53ish people. There wasn't enough room at the start to 'line up' everyone, so the last 3ish rows were just people fighting for a spot. It was a bit of mayhem in the back, and was just happy to stay upright for the first few turns.
Then in the first deep mud hole in lower field, got pushed into the middle, front wheel sunk and endo'd into the mud. Hope someone caught it on camera, as I think I did it pretty non gracefully! And the 8-9" of mud softened the fall. Got the chain back on, found my phone in the mud, and realized the hit/fall slammed my bars about 2" down. Couldn't pull them back. Felt like I was racing with time trial bullhorn bars. That killed my back the rest of the race.
First lap ok, 2nd lap much slower, stopped to dig out grass/mud to get rear wheel to turn several times. Third lap lost all my power to just move forward. Yeah, only managed 3 laps per sheet, but swear I had four.
My main goal this race was to finish, push myself, not get hurt, and not break any bike parts! Had a blast, met some new people, chatted with some folks i haven't seen in a while, and now looking forward to the next race.
There is a small smile under that mud!