Colorado Cross Classic Race Report

It was a great race today at Boulder reservoir for the Colorado Classic Cross race! The 35+ Cat4 field was sold out as usual, so there was a lot of good competition.  I have figured out how to ride sand this year so I was really looking forward to this course.

On the first lap riding by many as they ran the sand (photo from Mountain Moon Photography)

My start was ok as I was about row 6 and was able to move up some as the field started the race; however on the ~5th turn of the race, I was basically T-boned by another racer that drove me from one side of the course clear to the other side and into the safety fence.  Luckily I was able to push off of the fence, stay upright and continue on. I was dead set to make sure to pass that guy during the race, but then I hit a goat head that punctured my tubular tire! The sealant I was using did its job, but didn’t close up the puncture until I had lost ~7-10psi making the wheel too squirly to continue with for the entire race.

This situation is the entire reason why I had spare wheels in the pit,  so I did a quick stop by the pits to grab a spare wheel. Unfortunately, my spare wheel suffered the same fate, so I had to make another stop in the pits and was going to beg a pump off someone to get back up to the correct pressure.  It turns out that we had neutral support from Mavic wheels for the race, so I was able to swap out to one of their wheels and continue on.   I am so very thankful for the wheel!! The tire ended up being a bit hard and not too good in the sand for me; but racing is better than not finishing so I was just happy to be back out in the pack.

As I finally made a full lap without issue, I ended up in a pack of about 5 other racers, all of which had had issues at one time or other and were trying to make it back up to the rest of the field.  This was great as we traded back and forth trying to get the best of each other and, in turn, getting the whole group to go harder than we would on a solo effort.  Every time I was thinking that I was in a section where I could back off a little bit to recover some, I realized there was a guy right on my back wheel, so there was no way I was going to let up and let him pass me easily.

Sometime during the second to last lap (insert Dave Towle – two to go!! two to go!! two to go!!) I decided that there was no need to be chicken in the corners and just stopped grabbing the brakes; and rather than focusing on the corner, looked towards the exit and beyond.  Gee, guess what happened? – I started railing the corners and putting space between me and the racers around me allowing me to bridge up to the next group in front.  About time I got over that cornering fear!  Combining the re-found cornering ability with my ability to quickly get over barriers and ride sand decently, and I moved up at least another 10 spots on that lap alone.

Up until that point I realized that I had also be doing a “plodding” run through the long section of sand that I was now having to run – a really horrible run actually; stiff, locked legs landing very much heal first, like I was trying to walk in my road bike shoes on ice or something.  The voice in my head all of a sudden spoke up saying – um, hello!  you know how to run, you have good running fitness, your mtn bike shoes have great tread and toe spikes in them – use them!!  So on the last lap I did, and huge difference!  Still hurt like a son-of-a-gun, but I was more than twice as  fast and a little less spent at the end of the run section,  so I was able to really accelerate on the following section.  – Like I said in my previous post, this year has been and continues to be a good learning experience.

As we went down the second to last paved section, there were three of us in near proximity.  I was tail end charlie with the middle guy ~25yrds in front and the lead guy about another 25yrds.  The last part of the course, I knew I could rail at full out speed, so I figured I would do my best to beat both of them; as it goes in racing, they all had the same idea however.   As we dropped off the pavement, the gaps where down to about 15yrds; through a chicane and the lead guy kept the 15yrds, but I had narrowed to 10yrds on the middle guy.  A hard right turn and still 15yrds to lead, but 5yrsds to middle guy.  Final left turn up a gravel hill and onto the pavement and we were almost neck and neck, but the lead and middle guys took much better lines than I did, so we came out onto the straight with about 5yrds to lead guy and two yards to the middle guy and only about 30yrds to the finish line.  We all threw down as much power as we could muster, working our  bikes side to side for every last bit of speed we could; at the line the lead guy crossed first with my front wheel right on his rear and the middle guy about a half wheel behind me.  Having a full on sprint to the finish was a great way to end the race!

Ended the race in 66th place and a huge grin on my face; I love cyclocross racing!

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