Whew ! now that we have that out of the way, if you'd like to read more about the view from the back row, then please kick back and enjoy !
This simple exchange before the start of Sundays race summed up the weekend for me. At about the 30 secs to go announcement, someone in our crusty old coots class spoke up and wished everyone good luck and a clean race in which another replied " I love you all, individually and as a group!" It was brilliant timing and definitely broke any start line jitters. As funny as that was, it was perfectly suited to describing a weekend spent immersed with my cyclocross family at large. We are already at the teetering point in our season and hopefully looking at the looming darker and wetter half from here on out.
Saturday at the Boulder Reservoir nearly didn't happen after (another) wildfire broke out on the edge of town. Thankfully the organizers were granted a last minute green light from officials and it was game on. While I've never been a huge fan of the course at the Reservoir, Pete Webber and crew put together what I would characterize as the best yet, not too much sand where I usually resemble an extra from Lawrence of Arabia stumbling across a searing expanse of desert after weeks spent astray and lost without water. The course also featured turns galore, and with the lack of moisture that we're experiencing this fall, the grass is wicked dry and becoming very slippery after pairs and pairs of skinny knobs continually run across it at 28psi. With the new warm-up rules being enforced I brought along a trainer and manged to get a so-so spin in and then checked out about two-thirds of a lap before realizing that I was out of time and made a sprint for the line so I wouldn't miss my start. Arrived in time to pitch my jacket to Jen and literally the whistle blew and off we went into a blind start that I had no preview of. I spent the next 45 minutes trying hard not to suck too bad and rolled across in a mid pack 32nd place, besting the previous weekend by one place. And as my friend Matt reminded me ( tongue in cheek) that success in cross is linear, so at this rate all I need is 32 more races before I get the big W.
During Saturday race, when I wasn't trying to keep my bike upright, I was thinking about Sundays course preview that had been posted on the interweb drawing all kinds of criticism and concern ( myself included )about the inordinate amount of pavement, whether is was cruising through the mall parking lot of jumping onto concrete sidewalks and how it looked as though it didn't really feature anything technical. Saturdays requirements were taking their toll on me and I serious reservations about what I'd have left for Sunday.
Well major kudos go out to Chris Grealish and his crew because Sundays course in my mind was superb. The course was the perfect example of an equalizer, the perfect mix of power and finesse. During the entire 45 minutes I shared an amazing duel with Charles Brown who would power away from me every single lap on the long grassy straightway grinder of a climb out of the lowest section of the course. He would easily put 10 to 15 seconds on me and I would be able to bridge back up and pass on the off camber downhill turns and runups back to the start finish area. We'd roll though the start/finish area along side one another each perhaps trying not to reveal too much even though all the shut down alarm bells were going off in my head. Charles punched it past me on the last lap and I couldn't close the gap on the last climb out, In fact 2 more guys came by me on either side as soon as we hit the concrete, I'm thinking there's no way I'm losing this many places on the last lap but as the 2 came past they manged to tangle bars and crashed themselves out of contention nearly taking me with them. I finished the day in 35th..so much for the linear success theory. I magically migrated my way directly into the Frites guys during cool down and they immediately offered up an adult recovery beverage from the Czech Republic which was very refreshing and followed by a brat and waffle. Another fitting end to a perfect weekend.
As far as passing judgement on video previews, I've learned my lesson, although perhaps not because I did the same thing for Bend Nationals last year, sitting at my computer and wondering why at had spent so much money and planned to go ride through sage weeds in the back of some some office park. I actually wished we take an alpine ski racing approach to these weekends. Go in "blind" in come prepared. I'd vote for text descriptions only.
See you next weekend, and as always thanks for reading