Whew! Second CX event in the bag today! And I did two races today which actually helped me greatly with confidence and knowledge. But boy are my legs toast!
LA Cyclocross at the Greek Theatre in Griffith Park.
The course was short, and it was either up or down, and all turns seemed to be off camber. Lots of crashes and event the pros were hitting tape and stakes and crashing etc. It was definitely more technical a course and as some said, it "had no flow, no rhythm". Lots of hairpin turns and very bumpy potholed ground.
Anyhow, the course was dry with mainly grass and sandy dirt with areas of deeper soft dirt. There was a sand pit, one stair run up, one barrier and even a jump off a curb to execute while in a full speed asphault turn.
On my first race, CX4 the field was 62 or so. Uphill start brought us all to a hairpin where we waited to go around and then we waited again a bit later as we all filed through the sand pit. After that it started to spread out a little more. I was about 6 from last and I started picking off riders in front of me. I was slowly moving up the field when I botched/fell on a few turns and had to gain back a few spots. frustrating because I started realizing i was rushing, taking stupid chances and causing my own problems by putting myself in the wrong spots.
Then I slid out on a loose dirt off camber downhill hairpin (see how I put all the excuses in there?) and "Schlecked my chain"! While I struggled with it the whole rest of the field went by. I suppose gentlemen's rules don't apply in Le Tour or 'cross either
I had to fight my way back through the entire pack again! I proceeded to crap up some more corners, and drop my chain no less than 3 more times (I NEED a chainwatcher) but they didn't hurt me as much as the first lap.
While it was tough I felt hindered by my techical skills, not my cardio or strength. Not that I'm fast or anything but I kept feeling I'd recover and have more for later. I past many people on the pavement stretch and any open straights. Some sections of the course were so slow with switchbacks I recovered but nobody could really pass due to the turns. I had to let some of the leaders by at the end of my last lap so I crossed the line, lapped, with the 6th place finisher or something
After all the time I spent on the ground and fixing my chain I managed to get 46th out of 56 with 7 or so DNF.
Oh well, would have liked to know what I could have done if I kept my chain on and stayed off the ground but hey, that's racing.
Overall I learned I was rushing, riding sort of risky and frantic which is why I was in the position to make so many mistakes. SLOW DOWN TO GO FASTER was the lesson of the day. Where I kept trying to hammer and get one more pedal revolution or come in to a corner hot I should have been smooth and picking lines and going slow in fast out of the corners.
I had an hour between races and initially I was tempted to bail on the second but glad I didn't. I hydrated with Gatorade, ate some fruit and had a shot block sample. felt good after a bit but had to get warmed up again but didn't know if I'd be toasted so i was careful and just did some spinning around.
I raced 35+ cat 3/4 race and it was grouped with the 35+ 1/2/3 or something like that. We started 1 min after the first wave of cat 1/2/3.
I started off and was in about 3rd from last and the field of us back-riders was much faster (it seemed). I got into a pace and focused on making nice smooth arcs around the turns, and was doing much better. I passed a few people and my stamina felt good once I was in rhythm. I went slower into turns and did better, I was finally learning how to survive some of the tricky spots. I passed and gapped several guys on the uphill pavement. No dropped chains but I did get hung up on a stake once and the guy behind me caught and passed me right on the few open straights. I was in the chase again and it was hard to gain time on him but I got fairly close right before the pavement.
I was confidently visualizing myself jumping tot he 53t and stomping past him when. . .
the USA cycling judge calls us both off the course because we are less than 80% of the leader's lap time. Game over right in the heat of battle!
I understand certain things but here's what irked us: We were 35+3/4 class riders grouped with Masters 35+1/2/3 and non-UCI Men 1/2/3. Of course we'd be 80% of their times... we're not cat 1/2/3!
I feel they should have left us in there as we certainly had our own 3/4 battles going on.
That was most annoying because I was feeling pretty good about the race so far and I still felt I could have chased down 1 or two more guys. Oh well, it was a $5 add on race... (should have got $2 back though)
Overall a fun day! I have a lot to work on, too bad I have to wait till December to do another