I don't know what conditions are usually like in the notoriously muddy Northwest, but I'm pretty sure if things were like this every weekend, I'd be a little less enthusiastic about racing cyclocross. Yesterday afternoon it started raining and didn't quit until early this morning. It rained hard. The course was through goat fields and involved some serious sustained climbing that would have been brutal on a dry day. Today, with my gearing, it was more than I could handle. I ran about a sixth of a mile every lap. Whenever I wiped mud off my face, it tasted like goat shit. It was awesome. And terrible.
Fortunately, my costume rocked and only restricted my breathing when I was riding really hard which was only for a couple laps, which was also super awesome. My wife gave me the halo her friends left in our honeymoon suite (which she proceeded to wear for three days after the wedding; love that woman) and I zip-tied it onto the helmet. I found in warm-up that it provided a little wind resistance but I was feeling fast so I let it ride. I coupled that with a ballerina type outfit my niece used to wear when she was 6. In order to put it on I had to involve my wife in a dramatically orchestrated dance/procedure in which I would put my arms through the arms then raise them above my head while she tugged it down over my head. It was really tight. It hurt to breath. We had to cut it off at the end of the day...
So we kicked it off at 12:45, 9 of us in the 1/2 category. A lot of the same cast of characters: Brent, Tanner, Nagoshiner, Ryan and Matt. Troy was also there. Troy's fast as hell. I harbored no illusions about beating Troy.
Today, I did something I never do, which was sit in at the start. I learned last week that it doesn't do a whole lot of good to freak out at the start, which is what I generally do, then I get tired and I fade and want to drop out, which is lame. You can see my halo toward the back. I was relaxing.
I was in 8th, I think, when we hit the mud, but things quickly sorted out and I found myself riding fourth behind Troy, the eventual winner and Tanner. We hit the long climb on the backside of the course and I jumped off the bike and ran. I was right behind Tanner, he was riding but I passed him by the top of the hill (this thing seriously took like a minute and a half to run up) and hopped back on and sped away. I briefly caught up with Troy at the beginning of the first lap and rode Troy's wheel for awhile but he shed me on the run-up. He's really strong. He won the Masters race last weekend in Louisville. I will say he made fun of me for riding a single speed before the race so I took it upon myself to at least stick with him for a little while. He gave me some props after the race (and after he beat me by a third of a lap), so he's forgiven. I will beat him.
After they rode away from me I realized that I was pretty much riding alone; the leaders were gone and fourth place was out of site. The slog had begun.
I was finding some parts of the course really difficult with my gearing, other sections felt great. Here's Brent in his getup demonstrating how brutal the conditions were:
I ended up running both the climbs on the backside so I was on and off my bike 5 times a lap. Finally got my beer at the end and landed my first podium of the season. Matt nailed 4th in his first race as a 2. Kick ass. He looks tired. He told me he's going to party tonight and blow off tomorrow. I respect that.
Only 4 of us finished on the lead lap, three guys dropped out, it was that kind of day. Sun came out before it went down so I've got high hopes it'll dry out a little tonight. If not, I'll be hurting, bad. It was muddy. When I got home I realized there were no spaces between my chainlinks. Like I said, I don't know how muddy it is up in the Pacific Northwest, but we had some mud today. The Mud before the barriers:
Cool how it blends in, eh?
See how much better things are with pictures? Yeah...
Oh, how about a video? You like videos? Here's Thad running up the Run up of Death. It was a little like a kick in the balls every lap. I'd chide Thad about his futuristic reverse carrying technique but he eventually won and I want him to think I'm "cool" and invite me on the super sweet single speed epic rides I'm not cool enough to go on so I'll just say, "Check out the futuristic technique by Thad, wish I'd thought of that!"
Well, I think I outdid myself on this one. Don't get used to it.
Might ad I just found out it's Daylight Savings Time. I don't like Daylight Savings. It's bullshit. Especially in Nashville. It'll get dark here at like 5pm now. Tonight is the only night it's a positive, so I'm going to stay up an hour later, eat a little more food then sleep an extra hour. After that, I'm pissed. 4:15 sunset sucks. Daylight Savings is an outdated idea, I'm over it, I hate it, it makes no damn sense.
Thom P wrote this compelling piece about racing a Single Speed cross bike. It's entertaining though I disagree with his over-gearing philosophy (I don't know how you could have turned a 42X16 today, but I'm not a "regional demi-pro," just a musician who likes to pretend he's a professional). Still, if you want to know how it works racing a single speed against the geared buffoons, this is and interesting piece. He's also making some very single speed faces on here so it's worth the read.