Briefly: a fantastic race, easily one of my strongest ever. Conditions about like last year: dry and dusty. First ’cross race on the Gunnar, which acquitted itself OK (more on this later).
With prereg callups I staged front ten which makes a huge difference. I jumped into third before the singletrack with big gaps in front and behind. There was a moment of cat-and-mouse on Lap 3 where I traded places with fourth a little but held on. Late in the fourth lap that guy was right on me and I had a small crash on the little singletrack loop around the playground. That kind of broke my spirit and a second group of riders got directly on me. Still I held fourth or fifth until the last 300 yards of the last lap, when that group passed me between the barriers and playground.
Finished 8th of 85.
What went right
- Staging, my God the staging. Somehow I must contrive to keep this staging all season. So much less work when I don’t have to recover huge gaps due to bottlenecks.
- Disc brakes. I just have so much more control and confidence on technical stuff.
- 32-tooth cog. Until I slipped my derailler cable, I could climb the runups in the saddle, and spin through hairpins.
- Legs. A summer of steady 100-mile weeks with long sprints is paying off. Despite being underslept and having had no warmup, I could jump hard early on which gave me a crushing psychological advantage…and I mostly held this advantage. Mostly.
What went wrong
- Underslept. My stamina really faded by Lap 4. This is usually not a problem for me; my usual joke is that if a ’cross race were half an hour longer I’d take the podium. Usually I can simply outlast most of the field. But not today. I’m blaming the poor sleep I’ve had most of this last month. I just felt empty and couldn’t hang.
- No warm up. I need to do this. I never do.
- Bike too heavy/poor core and upper body condition. The Gunnar is easily 3–5 pounds heavier than the Soma, and I can feel it every time I’m off the bike.
I could have addressed 1 and 2 and taken the podium today. Drat. Still, this was an awesome, awesome race, easily one of my best ever.