Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Master Cross Worlds Wrap

Well, that was fun. I've raced my (road) bike in snow before and also sub-freezing temps. But Louisville, Kentucky on Friday the 13th a few days ago was different. Different in that we had frozen ground after that predicted cold-front blew in and dropped temps to the high teens Thursday to Friday night.

So lucky for me and Justin (other rider from TX doing the 30-34 race) we didn't need to worry about getting muddy bikes (since we only brought one CX bike up here)...because all the mud-sections were 90% frozen! Problem is how you ride that stuff. Warming up at 27degree outside temperature (with the wind chill close to single digits) I knew this will be a tough one - coming from sunny & fast terrain. Riding on the grassy section was okay but you had to ride on the very outside just mm from the course-tape to avoid having to ride in the frozen ruts which developed over night (see picture below). The 35-39 AG heats Friday morning were quite "entertaining" as a lot of (experienced) riders hit the deck a few times while making their way over the worst parts of the course. De-icing of the flyover was in full swing when their race was supposed to start at 9am.
Friday morning courtesy of Tim Harris Visuals
I had a descent start in my race and was in the middle of the "pack" of 30ish guys when we hit the dirt. The first few ruts took out a few guys and I found myself quickly somewhere 10-15 positions behind the leader by the time we hit the first ice-ride-through and a sweeping left turn. Not ideal but at least I managed to handle my bike 'til then. For me, I spent too much time dodging icy ruts which were still peanut-butter-like mud the day before. It was awful. Amazing how the leaders rode over that stuff. I had descent legs and was gaining ground and passed a handful of guys on the flats but either was lacking the skillz (?) to ride over the frozen ruts without crashing. I fell once but besides a twisted shifter-lever I was good to go 3 seconds later. Halfway through the race I realized that running the worst part of ice by the flyover was much quicker (and safer) than riding it. But I paid for that a minute later when I wasn't able to ride up the run-up anymore simply because my legs were on fire from running all-out for 10-15seconds. So off the bike again for that little kicker close to the finish.


the Belgie (right) who won already in 2010 won again
After 5 laps and 52minutes of racing I rolled in 15th, nothing stellar and I was hoping for more. But all considered, I can be happy with it. I had good legs, and the bike & rubber worked 100% well. I just lacked that special skill you need in Cyclocross to be at the very front. I lost approximately 70seconds every lap to the Belgie who ended up winning. On a 3.1K lap that's quite a bit in cyclocross.

Again, special THANKS to Sol and Eric at Austin Bikes, Doug Looney of SCOTT, Sean Lambert of ROL Wheels, and Ian, Justin, Paul & Cath at Bicycles Outback for the sponsorship and support this week. Now it's time to shift the focus back on the road and the 2012 season lying ahead. Some old and new things for the coming year and I am excited. Stay tuned for updates.


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