Monday, September 22, 2014

1st Sagebrush Cyclocross Race.

Well, Saturday was quite a day.  It was the kickoff race for the Sagebrush cyclocross series and I thought I knew exactly what to expect having raced in it last year.  I couldn't have been more wrong.

While sucking down my first cup of coffee, the surprises began.  The course that had been the venue for the days race had been deemed to be too full of goats heads for an official race.  I was not amused as I spent about 4 hours of time helping to rake, pick, and prune the layout of the course and I'd done several test laps.  I had discovered the goat head issue and filled each tire with 4 ounces of stan's sealant the night before as my "race winning strategy"!  Dam I'd have to fight fair!

The actual move wasn't too big of a deal as it is literally across the street at Clayton Middle school.  At least I knew the course and figured I'd still have that advantage (or so I thought).  So I rode down to the coarse at a leisurely 9:30 am hit the registration booth and made a strategic decision to race the men's B series (rather than the B 35+ series).  This was strategic because there were only 4 guys in the men's B series and about 30 in the B35+.....they all race at the same time but are scored and place separately, so I figured my chances were far better to make a podium finish in the B's (although I'm more than a few years past 35 at this point)!

Registration....well organized, no muss, no fuss.

Surprise #2!  The course layout.
After registering I chatted with some of the folks I've gotten to know from last year...including the two guys who laid out the course.  Turns out my previous experience is a non-factor as we'll be running the course backwards and in a highly modified format (surprise #2).  While this might not sound like a big means the first 1/4 mile plus of each lap is soggy wet grass coincident with  200+ feet of climbing.  This section is usually my recovery zone (aka downhill) and a time to get my heart rate below 200 beats per will now be a redline zone where I eventually pop.  The rest of the course consists of significant amounts of soft grass, tight 180 degree S turns that go up and down 30 foot high hills, a lot of off camber riding on wet grass, and just generally brutal unrelenting suffering.....or a perfect cyclocross course!

I won't give a blow by blow account of my race....but since I entered the B category it's now 45 minutes of riding (about 9 laps) rather than 30 minutes.  The start went off without a hitch....with men's B, B35+, and Women's A all starting at once, I rolled out about front third of the pack.  The course proved to be unrelenting with very little time to ever ease off....constant on and off the bike, S turns on hills, barriers to jump, stairs to climb, wet soul sucking grass, and long hill climbs every lap!  By the 3rd lap I popped on the hill climb and had to back off (Surprise #3....I'm not in good enough shape).  I lost a few places but hung in for a 3rd place finish in the men's B category.  Not good, not bad....but the season is underway! 

***See official results here*** about some pics.
It doesn't look like much here because the climb is a series of benches....but these guys are suffering!

Run those stairs!

Remount and ride....faster, faster!

An open downhill....time for the pass.

Catching a bit of air on a step down....

Strategy you bunny hop the barrier or dismount and run.  Noah chose bunny hop and almost crashed!

Sometimes it's faster to dismount and run.

But the bunny hop just looks cooler!

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