Well I did the first cyclocross race of the year yesterday. The Cross Crusade race #1 Alpenrose. I should also throw in there that this was my first race in the Men's C class. I did all last year in the Beginner Men category mostly because I'd never done it before and once I get a couple races under my belt I still wasn't blasting past everyone so I decided to stay put. But now that I'm a year older and wiser I figured why the hell not. And threw myself in with 120 of my new closest friends (no, really, we'll hang out all the time, promise...)
J and I showed up at Alpenrose at o'dark thirty. Which was kind of nice because there is always good parking at o'dark thirty (everyone knows that). But that whole getting up really early for premium parking and sign up still hurts.
After we signed in and got our numbers and all that good stuff. We decided to walk the course just to get a feel for the lay of the land. But with the course being 1.7 miles long the stuff that looked smooth, back tracked on itself, or not dangerous we just sort of passed by.
After the walk through I dropped off my extra bike (thanks Adam!) to the pits I rode around the course a couple of times to get a feel for what I was going to need to do. All the time checking my watch to make sure I wasn't going to miss the start of J's race. Poor J got a really unlucky start position (CC do a start position protocol with you race number that is completely random). But with a blow of the whistle they were off.
I went to find a good vantage spot. That, incidentally is one of the best things about cross and one of the big reasons its so spectator friendly is that if you do it right you can actually see about three different areas of the course from one spot. J had a good race and managed to pass through a lot of the scrum to finish in a very respectable mid-pack position.
I headed for the starting area with about 10 minutes until the start of my race. I stripped my leg warmers and thermal jacket and headed to my number area. I was very lucky in the fact that I got a very good start position (second row) right next to Dave and behind Mr. T. The official blew the whistle and we were off!
For the next 45 minutes all I could see was a tunnel about 20 feet in front of me. My hole shot was not very good because I chose the wrong gear to start in. I did make up a little time in the paved sections (this seemed to happen every lap BTW). The cow pasture right after the paved area was bumpy as hell! Practically shook my fillings out every lap. And when I turned to go up and out of the it I would get passed (this seemed to happen every lap too). Ugh.
It was kind of interesting how things sort of pan out. The areas I have always considered myself pretty strong at were exactly the parts I'd get my butt hand to me. But other areas (like technical sections) I seemed to have little to no trouble in. Meh, weird.
Anyway, around and around I went until the feeling I was going to puke became quite ordinary to me. Oh, by the way. It's really mean of officals to have the 3 laps to go banner up. But still have 4 laps to go. I think I saw several grown men weeping in the bushes right after you got out of the velodrome. Tisk, tisk guys....
So I finished up. Continued to suppress the feeling of puking for several minutes afterward. And went to spin around a little to cool down.
All in all it was a fantastic experience as most cross races are. Anyone who has thought about doing one but hasn't pulled the trigger I highly recommend it. And if you love beer, waffles, friets (fries or freedom fries if you're 'merican) and watching grown men and women fight for the ultimate prize. I highly recommend coming out just to spectate. Truly a festive time for everyone!
Keep the rubber on the dirt,