I can only assume three other guys had minor mechanicals. Because I was DFL.
I don’t just mean I was DFL in my category. I was DFL on the course. The officials had stopped counting numbers, the volunteers were stacking cones, the spectators were walking to their cars, Luciano was shutting down the booth. (He high-fived me at the finish: “didja get lost out there?”)
I mean: everyone in all fields finished before I did.
I staged (with Thom) toward the back of our group. I missed the hole shot — was next to last for the hole shot, AFAICT — and spent the race clinging to the wheel of the one-back-from-DFL guy. We quickly lost contact with our field. And on the second lap, at the entry to the velodrome apron, I crashed and lost contact with him.
Then I began to meditate on the meaning of failure.
Because the Singlespeeds began to pass me, then the 50+ racers. And then the Cat A racers began to lap me.
I fail at a lot of things. Maybe most things. I don’t get most of the jobs I apply for, I lose most of the sales pitches I put forth, and I have never won any sporting contest of any kind. I am not naturally good at things.
What I am is dogged, and lazy. Those things are secretly complements. Dogged means doing what others refuse to do, or not quitting when everyone else is giving up. Lazy means not wasting effort when it will not get you results.
In cyclocross racing, dogged pays off in gruesome late-season races with thick mud and freezing rain and long hateful climbs. Hammer down and suffer. I may not be competitive or skillful but I have a high tolerance for pain and discomfort.
In cyclocross racing, lazy pays off in obvious recovery zones. Where everyone else is gasping for breath (not coincidentally after those hateful climbs…) I can jump into the breach. Like the hare (of tortoise-and- fame), but instead of napping I just wait lazily until the turtle stops for a piss break then jump him and gain like 100 yards.
Alpenrose has no climbing to speak of and nowhere to recover. No one pauses. That venue is not so much a contest of strength or cycling prowess as it is a test of nerve (and, OK cornering ability). Because by the point late in the race when I was well inside the Cat As, we were dropping slightly to the chicanes on the east boundary. I got to see what they did and it scared the bejeezus out of me. The surface was pitch black, a long slight drop, gravelly and off-camber, terminating in a sharp right corner. The elites gave exactly zero fucks. Zero fucks about the darkness. Zero fucks about the drop (20+mph). Zero fucks about traction. Zero fucks about the corner. They trust their momentum about 1000% more than I trust mine.
Anyway 26 of 31, somehow. I rode all 7 laps which is something to be proud of, I guess. It was a lot of laps.
Addendum: HRM data
A not-particularly-close review of my Strava HRM data shows the exact moment when I gave up. From the start and for the first lap and a half my ticker thumped a pretty steady 185-190 tick-tocks a minute. My HR spiked to 203BPM at the moment I crashed (at 1:56:19ish) then it seesaws between 170–190bpm. My usual style (at least in 2012, the last time I raced with a HRM) was to open hot and keep my heart just under the redline (around 190BPM).