Today's weather was a wonderful surprise. After yesterday, visions of BCA menaced me all night. I think we had every piece of truly warm cycling gear packed and ready. Waking up and seeing the car encased in ice didn't help, but soon enough the dial went all the way through "doesn't suck" to "sort of nice" to "beautiful fall day."
The course was another story. Mud bog after mud bog littered the serpentines early in the lap, followed by a huge mud pit after the barriers, closing with a mud pond crossing at the end of the lap. Lots of guys broke out their mountain bikes for the day, which was looking pretty attractive during the pre-ride. Whatever.
Another race, another crap spot on the grid, this time 48th - 10th or 11th row somewhere. Shocker, big crash on the pavement in the beginning, I hope everyone's okay, and then someone near the front chatched the first serpentine and we were barely on the grass before I was giving my bike a lift and running. I hate running. Somehow I managed to pass some guys, but once again the front of the race was leaving town. I don't have any clue where I was after the first lap, only that I was well past "in the red" and fully into the purple trying to get up to where the real race was happening.
There was a lot of good racing going on from like 20th forward. At one point Dr. Todd and I were moving along really well when he fell over on a root in a 180. I tried to punch it hard to further the gap to the group chasing us, but the effort of getting up into the race was starting to tell. At that point I think there were two laps left, and I think I was in 6th but maybe 5th. Good barriers, good blast through the uphill mud pit, good switchbacks, and then into the lake. A guy I was lapping got chucked sideways (in that thing, it happened), and then stopped. Right in front of me. Fortunately I landed on my feet. Unfortunately I was going zero, watching the pack that had been behind me grind away. Merde.
11th at the finish. I might have been psyched if you told me before the race that I'd be 11th. As it was, not so much. I think in going batshit crazy on the first lap of all these races in order to get out of my crapola grid spots (which are entirely my fault - I registered late for almost everything and haven't raced the same field twice so whatever points I get instantly go to waste), I'm playing too many face cards early. I find myself fading late in the races. Even without my Superfly Snuka move in the mud pond, I was leaking oil pretty bad. Partly mental, as I caught myself thinking that I liked where I was and that's a bad thing. Got to keep trying to pass. That said, it's pretty cool that I feel like I've got at least a handle on some things. My first season's going pretty well, and it's fun as hell.
The best things about cross so far are that I'm pretty positive I'm going to go way faster on the mountain bike next year, and that it's really teaching me to be a lot more aggressive and comfortable with the argy-bargy. My bars have been seen in tight places they'd never have gone into a short bit ago. It's also intense, which is good for me, and pretty much just plain fun as shit. The bad part is that holy crap does it beat the snot out of your stuff. I pretty much have to strip the family fleet and regrease bbs and headsets and all manner of stuff this week. That's kind of a pain.
My 11th turned out to be the WAY outlier bad result from the team (even my household) on the day. Pitted for Paul, and watched a really creepy set of circumstances happen. Let's just say there seem to be a lot of good sports in the masters elite, but they are not universal. D-baggery afoot. The course tape and stakes aren't just a good suggestion - they're the law.
A bunch of photos posted on the November facebook page. Nothing too stunning, I didn't really get a chance to get out onto the course.
Maybe Patapsco next weekend, and definitely Sander.