courtesy of Yet Another Bike Photo Page
Hmmm...where to start??? How about this...THAT WAS EFFING AWESOME!!!! For the tens of people that read this, if you are not a cyclocross racer this race is the equivalent of Joe Martin...but waaaaaaaaay better because it's CYCLOCROSS!!! 3 days of racing with some fast mutha f@#%as!!
I decided last year I wanted to go to Jingle Cross because the local scene is getting pretty skinny (field size) these days and I wanted to line up with as many crazed CX loonies as possible...this was my best bet so away I went.
We arrive at Mt. Krumpit to find a scene that I've never seen at a CX race...think full on party atmosphere!! In my infinite wisdom I calculated the drive time without pee breaks and stopping for gas, so by the time I was ready to inspect the course, it was about time for the first race to roll. I managed to get about 2/3rds of a lap before the first race went off...oh well...
For this race I was toeing the line on my "new" cx rig...I should have done A LOT more race tuning to this machine...because the shifting went away and the bars rotated down, a little...I don't think I could've done anything different for the bars, I hit a bump bombing down the backside of Mt. Krumpit at speed (25mph+) and that's what caused the slippage but the shifting woes were caused by a loose derailleur hanger and had I done my usual prerace wrench routine I would've caught this....oh well.
Moving on...The week leading up to this weekend I had a mild head cold which started Monday and had me feeling about half run down all week, I was still feeling this way on Friday. Needless to say I felt pretty flat for the entire race on Friday night.
At the call up I was on the 3rd row which I was content with, not DFL by any means. All I had to do was get a good start and life is good...My new rig and I are not on the same page when it comes to getting good starts, I proceeded to miss the pedal about 20 times...what 3rd row starting position?!?! I was not last but that really sucked!!!
Now racing along I can tell this isn't going to be a great race but forge ahead I did. As we hit the climb for the first time, I "run" up it and remount for the scorching fast descent, about half way down I hit hit a bump, this is where the bar slipped...it was so loud I thought I broke my wheel or frame along with the slippage. The course leveled out and I continue on looking over my bike as I ride and decide that it is okay.
A little while later, maybe a lap and a half...the shifting decides it doesn't want to work...WTF!! I managed to get it to the finish line, 22nd out of 35, and gave the bike a toss...well...more like a drop than a toss...that bike hates me!!! Today (Monday) I decided that I will race that bike as much as possible to get rid of the gremlins. We WILL come to an understanding!!!!!!
After the usual French press, It was time to decide which bike to ride. I decided the Hammer would be my steed...it has a flat bar and I would most likely be the only one on the grid with one but it was ready and has never let me down mechanically and I get great starts on Mjolnir!!! I learned a few weeks back that having a pit bike helps eliminate the dreaded DNF. That meant I would have to get the new rig squared away just incase. As I look it over I discovered the culprit to the shifting woes and of course as soon as I remedy that it shifts fine again...good deal I have a bike that will work if I need it.
Since my less than stellar ride didn't get me into the top 16 on Friday, I had to wait but got my same spot on the grid again. At the gun I stomp my pedal and away I go. About 30 seconds later the group was flying down the start strait and I was up against the iron gate barriers coming to a slight left bend...at this point I was like oh shit, I'm gonna hook my bar and wad up half the field...fortunately I squeaked by and life was good.
The course was a little different today, it had a LONG climb on it...folks...I am not a climber!!! It's a good thing I decided on the Hammer because I don't think I could've ridden the climb with the 36x27 low on the new rig...but managed it, sort of, with the 34x32 low on the Hammer. Another feature was a LONG sand pit, which was easily rideable due to the freezing temps. The rest of the course was mostly the same with minor changes here and there.
The race wears on and I settle into a rhythm, I felt better on Saturday but still not quite right and managed to finish 22nd out of 45, the biggest field of the weekend. A better day for sure but still off a little.
The weather had forecasted snow for the area starting Saturday evening and Mother Nature did not disappoint!! It started about 3:00 and continued off and on until morning...We awoke to about 3 inches of the white stuff. I wasn't really keen on racing at that point based on how I felt out there the last couple of days...I finally said fuck it...I'm in.
We arrive to find the course cover with snow. I hurry up and get going so I can get a look at the course and get a feel snow on frozen ground...feeling confident in my course inspection...I decide to roll the Hammer again due to another LONG climb and an equally greasy technical descent.
After the call ups, I got my same 3rd row spot on the grid. At the gun I stomp my pedal and away I go. The 1st quarter mile or so was paved and as we got up to speed the roost started flying...this caught me by surprise...but kinda laughed about it once I realized what it was. As we brake for the first turn I was in 15th-ish...and was feeling good. I managed to pass a few here and there to move up close to the top 10 only to give those spots back on the EVER FREAKIN LONG CLIMB!!! With 2 to go, I realize I'm feeling like I wanted to the entire weekend, REALLY GOOD!! So I continue on, going fast when I can and trying to limit the damage on the climb. Which in the end had me 17th on the day out of 32. I was happy to see that because all I really wanted was to crack the top 20 all 3 days...a good note to end on fo sho!!!
So I've had a little time for this to sink in and as I said at the beginning it was a blast!! Did I have the weekend I wanted to have, not really, but that's racing, you can't be great every weekend and I'm good with it, especially on that stage. I do think had I not been sick I would've faired a little better based on how I felt on Sunday. Will I go back, I don't know, I said on Sunday I wouldn't but I've said that before and chances are I will because CYCLOCROSS RULES!!
Before I end this installment, I have to say thanks to the entire 360 race team for allowing me and others to warm up in their heated pop-ups and to John "The Machine" Jones for bringing his pop-up for extra room for the less traveled cx racers such as myself. You guys ROCK!!!
P.S. I will add pics when I find 'em...it was too freaking cold for me to take any!!!!