What was remarkable about yesterday’s race was its unremarkableness. I staged in the middle and finished in the middle. Given my track record in Cat B this counts as progress.
Thom has an excellent writeup of the race from his perspective, which is telling. Thom and I have rather different racing aptitudes; he does well where I tend not to, and vice versa. (He still had a much better race than me, but he works much harder than I do. No surprises there.)
Anyway before the preride I was sure this was not going to be a good race for me. Lots of flat, lots of corners…nothing I’m good at. The preview ride kind of blew that out. Every inch of the course was one of the following:
- Heavily rutted fields
- Deep gravel or mud
- Sand pits
- Singletrack descents
- A single long runup on loose river pebbles
There was (almost) nowhere to recover. Where my comrades recover, I attack. A course with no respite is good for me. Thom describes it well with “everything felt slightly uphill.” Wonderful. 51 of 84
Lap 1 was the usual herd battle…until the first corner, into some mild mud and then onto those chewed up pastures. Immediately the herd thinned and there seemed to be ample room to overtake everywhere I could summon the power. I had the bad fortune to trade places several times in the first two laps with a rider who, for all his strength, could not make a clean line through the sand pits (it wasn’t that hard)…but who would pass me in the corners. All my worst mistakes were recovering behind that guy. I dropped him in Lap 3 and the race became a lot smoother.
I never did pin the muddy drop onto the short singletrack segment. Actually I did fine on the drop but couldn’t work out a good position into a _very muddy slight climb after that. On Lap 3 I decided to give up and just dismount at the hairpin and run it, to (I think) good effect. By Lap 4 the front of the 50+ field was catching me; at this spot I ran directly alongside one of the 50+ leaders and then passed him before the runup. And I was running in the ankle-deep mud where he had the clean high line. So in this one case I’m not sure staying on the bike presented any particular advantage.
Loved the runup. (Love runups!) I can usually pick off a rabbit or two on a wide runup, and then having it open into a wide mudpit made it even better. This was one of the few recovery places on the course and I could catch another place or two. (And by Lap 4 or 5 I had figured out a really fast line on the right of the bog, where for some reason all the others in my field rode right through the damn middle.)
But other than the barriers & infield near the team tent fiesta, this was not a race with a lot of changing positions. As Thom points out there was a pretty steady 2 second or better gap in every rider after first place! Everyone was racing themself on this one.
Venue notes: it was a lovely drive but too long. Thom drove. Friends Hal and Gretchen were there, this was Hal’s second race. A “wet” venue and my sponsor provided refreshing beverages. I may have gotten a little tipsy post-race. First race since 2013 where I had fun the whole time.
Kenji Sugahara posted an awesome drone video
2015 Cross Crusade Cascade Locks from Dronescape Media Consulting on Vimeo.