Monday, December 1, 2008

State (Episode 2)

Under a gray sky and a steady but light rain yesterday in Louisville, KY, I became the Kentucky State Champion in the CX4 Category. Well, that's not exactly true. I'm from TN, not KY, so I'm technically not the State Champion, but I did win, my second win in as many weeks.

It rained steadily the entire trip up there and through most of warm-up, turning the excellent (and relatively flat) course into a very slippery proposition. Much of the course had been used before and had a single track style track down the middle, but with the moisture, it was like riding on grease. Line choice was essential and lots of people were taking spills, including myself.

33 individuals in my category, started 1 minute behind the masters, which was about 30 people. I started at the back, but by the end of the opening stretch I'd worked up to the top 5 group. Through the first few corners I got into second and just followed the leader, Nathan, as he wove through the Masters. We immediately started putting Masters riders between us and the chasers, losing them almost immediately. I followed through the first lap, making a move in the sand pits (there were three fantastic sand sections that gave everybody a bunch of trouble). Nathan ran into someone in the first, then got stuck behind someone else in the second. I stood up on the pedals to try and get a gap and was able to get a few seconds.

For the next lap I stayed about 3-4 seconds ahead, picking off Masters and lapped riders and trying to stay smooth, conserve energy and stay up. Coming into the finish line on lap three, Nathan made a sudden surge toward the line, I thought he was attacking me and unfortunately, I wasn't able to respond, but as soon as we hit the line he sat up. He'd thought that the race was over, but the lap cards clearly said 2 laps to go. Needless to say, I caught him and attacked hard. Very hard. I pretty much tried to get as far away as I could while he recovered, and continued to put time on him through the final two laps. I'd occasionally find myself in a section he could see me, and every time I thought he might be watching I'd stand up and try to look as strong as possible.

By the end I'd passed a bunch of Masters riders and had a 15-20 second lead. The race was one of my best and my first in genuine Cross conditions: mud, rain, cold, etc... It was the perfect course for a single speed, especially with the mud and sand. I've qualified to upgrade to CX3 but I know I'll get hammered if I upgrade. Will probably enter another CX4 race or two, but I think if I get top 2 again I'll have to do it.

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