Schoolyard Cross ’10

This past Saturday was the Schoolyard cyclocross race at Boulder reservoir. I had actually thought about skipping races this weekend after having the crud I’d somewhat had for the past several weeks really hit after last Sunday’s race. However, by Wednesday I was feeling ok and by Thursday I was itching to get out again, so I figured I might as well. Since the race was at the Boulder Res, I thought that would be a good way to have a smoother race than at the Colorado Cross Classic; and have more fun passing people in the sand! Everything was working out well the morning of the race. We (two daughters, Hill, and I) got to the res. an hour and thirty minutes before my race; giving myself plenty of time to hit the restrooms, get registered, and get a ride on the course for pre-ride/course recon at the end of the 9am race. I liked the way the course was laid out, but was bummed there wasn’t more sand; and really bummed there were some tight technical and off camber turns throughout the course (after last week, I’m still chicken on tight and off camber)- figured I’d just have to pull up the big boy pants and get over the fear… Overall, I thought it would be a good course for me.

After my pre-ride, I went back to our truck and setup the trainer for a warm up. I am completely convinced this is the proper way for me to warm up; riding around before the race just never seemed to get me ready to race as well. On the trainer, I tend to get a bit more warmed up temperature wise in the muscles, I can much more easily control my effort level, and I can completely zone out and visualize the course while listening to some good music with completely isolating headphones (not a good idea for riding in traffic or among other riders).

After my warm-up – I headed over to the corral area for pre-race staging. This time I was a bit more confident and lined up at the front to try and be in the first row behind those with CO Cup points. It turns out that they did call-ups by race number blocks after the CO Cup points call-ups and I was in the second group called; still not too bad of a starting point. I counted myself in the middle of the 4th row with 9-10 guys per row. At the whistle, I got clipped in quickly and started moving forward in the pack. I knew the lines I needed to take the early corners well and was able to maneuver as needed in the pack to take them and generally move up some more on each one. As we went through the back section of the course, my lines were working out very well and I was somewhere in the 20’s as far as position. The other thing I noticed was that I wasn’t right on the edge of blowing up either; I was actually semi comfortable with my effort level!

As we came into an area that I knew I would have an advantage on (barrier followed by short run and then sand), I was hugging the inside line of a corner when we hit a small sand section and the line previous to me had gone to the left. The problem with that line is it lead straight to a wooden post that was cabled to a couple other posts. I fought it, but I came in too fast and it was too late to correct out of.  BAM! The left  handle bar hit the stump, which started me going over the bars, but I noticed that I had somehow been bounced back some. I tried to recover from it, but no luck, my front wheel hit the stump just to the left of center and tossed me into the air. I landed right in the middle of the pack and I think I was actually run over by a couple other racers, but I never really felt it. As I got up, I was sure I had broken something on me or the bike – I could see the posts and the cable in mid flight along with a couple rocks and wasn’t sure if I had missed them or not. At the time nothing hurt, so I grabbed my bike and kept going, or at least tried too. I got over the barrier and went to ride the sand, but nothing happened when I turned the pedals. Turned out my chain was off the crank and needed to be put back on.

Once back on my bike, I noticed I was having issues steering, as I looked down at my bike, it was pretty apparent why; my handle bars were about 10+ degrees off of center to the right! I didn’t have any tools on me or in the pit, so I rode the rest of the race that way. My bar position turned out to do me no favors as it made all the tight corners a lot more tricky adding to my hesitation on really tight corners (next year, I will be spending a lot of time every week working on handling skills!). As I’m writing this and remembering how I was racing, I just realized that I was doing zero hip steering in the tight sections…guess what I’ll be working on this week?
The rest of the race went pretty well, no more crashes and started picking people off. Final placing was ~50th. Another lesson I learned was that I need more air pressure in my tubulars for dry hard packs races like this; the slight roll over in all the tight corners was a bit too disconcerting.

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