So tired. At home now, watching the Titans. 6.5 hours ago I was suffering. A lot. This morning the TN State Cyclocross Championships were held in Memphis on Mud Island, across the channel from the Pyramid. I showed up an hour before the start, registered and went out for a pre-ride. With the exception of one railroad tie run-up in the spectator area, the course was surprisingly boring, requiring very very little braking and absolutely no technical ability. One part of the course was a half mile of straight grass along the Mississippi River with just one section of natural wood barriers to break it up. Courses like this are not my strength, I just don't have the fitness base having only started riding again in June. I knew that the roadies would probably put the screws to me. Fortunately I was only half right.
Fifteen minutes before the start I saw Tanner Hurst (below, pictured immediately to my right) in the parking lot. I didn't think he was going to show and was a little disappointed since last weekend he didn't give me much of a chance. Don't get me wrong, I love some stiff competition and Tanner's natural ability is inspiring, but I also hate to think right off the bat that I'm racing for second. They only ran two races today, the "A Race", Pros, CX1,2,3 and Master Men, and the "B Race", basically everyone else. The CX4 class is the biggest and also hosts some of the slowest riders. Normally it wouldn't matter, except that for some reason, the officials decided to stage the Single Speed class directly behind the CX4's and start us at the same time. Initially I was moderately upset but I tend to do best at the start and in the first lap so I decided not to bitch and try to turn it into an opportunity.
As soon as we started, I headed to the left, around several of the CX4's and right up the middle rapidly picking up places and moving into the top 10 overall. During the pre-ride, I accidentally skipped a section and was startled to find a steep run-up after a wide open corner early in the lap. Basically, the only tactic was to sweep wide around the corner then immediately start stomping on the pedals to get as much speed up as possible before the climb. With the CX4's gearing down and me not having that luxury, I picked up at least 3 more spots on the short climb. The course then took a hairpin turn off the sidewalk onto an off camber turn then into a long, soft section. Had it been raining it would have been mud, as it was it was just irritating and exhausting. It took me a few laps to find the right line and I gave up the SS lead going through the soft stuff on the second lap.
After the sog, there was a bumpy, uphill left hander into my favorite section, the railroad tie run-up that brought us onto the sidewalk in the spectator area. I usually start strong, first half to full lap I rip, often lead, today was no exception, but heading into the second half of the course I gave up another spot and slipped to third. Soon after I let fourth place by me in an effort to stabilize my heartrate and pretty much stayed right there the rest of the race. I was pushing hard and starting to pick up overall places, but was having a hard time catching the three SS riders ahead of me. I spent about a lap going back and forth with Brent Barrett (above, last in line), who beat me in the CX4 sprint last week. I think eventually he ended up in front of me.
Last lap I tried to dig deep and get on the podium, but I just didn't have it in me. I eased across the line in 4th, 6th overall. It's funny, I thought about entering the CX4 race instead of SS after last weeks race. I'm hoping to get enough points to upgrade to CX3 for next season and I'd considered trying to pick up points in Memphis, but ultimately decided that SS State Championships was a goal and I didn't want to give up on it. Had I, I would have started in a better position and theoretically ended up in at least third, landing on the podium and picking up 2 points toward an upgrade, not to mention a little merchandise.
Either way I'm happy with my result. Two of the three individuals that beat me were racing the CX3 race and the other was racing in the Masters race afterward. I'm feeling really motivated to keep working, keep trimming down and getting faster. I was hoping to hit the podium, but I'm happy with the result. I'm up to 16th place in the TBRA Single Speed series standings. Next weekend is Beat the Freak down in Fayetteville, TN. I'll be racing the double, SS and CX4 races. We'll see how that works out.