I was pretty fired up for this race. I had a decent week of training, Jeff the Supermechanic at Landrys tuned by bike while replacing my 105 shifter (more on that debacle later), and I have been racing pretty well. I wanted to get the race early, get my early laps in, warm-up on the trainer, get my game face on, and go. I even loaded up my IPod with tunes to get me in the zone.
Arrived early, met up with Bad Brad, and road off to check out the new course. Amazing how the first time around a course can seem like an eternity.
The lay-out was pretty nice. Bad Brad took a look at the course from the parking lot and said "Looks pretty flat". Um, yeah, around the parking lot. But that made up a short portion of the race. Plenty of fun to be had around the corner. I will have more on the course at my race review blog.
I was getting ready to get to the start, and CCC pulls up looking like hell, and very late as we were 20 minutes to the start. Asks me if I am going to be around to pin on his number.
Being the good teammate that I am, I say sure. I told him I would take him around the course once since he hadn't seen it yet due to his lateness. He comes rolling up with a number that looks like it was pinned by someone who was born blind and without thumbs, but whatever. Of we go.
Good thing to see the course right before the race, because it got chewed by the first race pretty good, altering some strategy.
We roll back and I go to the car to drop off my long sleeve jersey. CCC says the line up is starting so we go to the line. Cort managed a front row spot, but I was one over from him next to Rob and behind some other guy. No worries.
I'm feeling good and ready for action. The bad toe is pretty much healed, the bike is tuned, I have my embrocation on my legs, and it is a beautiful day. 15 seconds to go, hit the timer on the watch, right pedal at 2:00 position, body tensed, WHISTLE
Guy in front of me doesn't move. I mean not at all. Far be it from me to criticize someone else's starts, but I typically at least try to make forward progress. Nothing. He sits there. One thousand and one. One thousand and two. Now he realizes the race has started, and I am totally flummoxed. I try to clip in and go, and everyone is flying by. I finally get things going, hit the first turn, and enter the grass pretty close to Dead F'in Last.
Time for plan B. Lets see how many guys we can pass in the race.
I figured that it would take about 6:00 per lap, and I was pretty close to dead on. The first lap was around 6:15 because of the fence gates and trying to get around people. Things were stacking up, and I had to weave off my line quite a bit. After the first lap, I settled down into between 5:59 and 6:07 per lap. I started to race some people, especially one buy from Cox Communications. He made a nice move to get the good line through the second sand pit, I took the Line of Death, fell, and had to struggle to catch back up.
By two laps to go, I was totally grooving and feeling good. I was able to reel in more people, including Mr. Cox, and put the hammer down and finish around 6th. Overall, it was a solid race despite the Start that never was. CCC took 4th. You would think that given my sacrifice he would have at least got on the podium. Nope. Big let down for the team, but we'll soldier on.
Fun was had by all.
Positives: Sticking in there and sucking it up, and playing cheetah with the other cyclocross gazelles on the Plymouth Serengeti.
Negatives: Getting stuck behind a guy who did not understand how these races start.
Improvements made: Downhilling without braking. Hitting the corners harder and sprinting out of them. Creating space in order to get a better run on people.
Improvements needed: Not chopping my steps over barriers. Riding sand.
Next week: Lowell Masters 35+. I'm doomed.