Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cyclocross season

After racing butte I wasn't all that motivated to ride in August. At one of the wed worlds rides I just went home because I felt bad and was having a bad time. Things kind of went like that, where I would sometimes feel good and sometimes bad. Then, suddenly it was September and cyclocross was stating. Those new wider wheels and the 1x drivetrain didn't happen so I just showed up for the first wednesday night race with the bike as-is, on old tires, after a month of slacking and no cross practice. Also I moved up to the A group instead of B. It actually didn't go that badly- I didn't finish in last (although I was close).

This year there were six Wednesday cx races, much like last year, with no usac sanctioning which means anyone can just show up and race. For usac races, you need a license, or to buy a one day every time which basically doubles the cost of racing our series. Also, if you have previously held a usac license I don't think they let you do one day anymore. So that has been nice, and brings more racers to the events, although it does make it harder to upgrade. I've pretty much given up on it for road, although I can probably ask and get bumped up to cat 3 for cx if I bother to show up for a couple of sanctioned races.

We had a new venue as well this year -the fairgrounds- and ended up there for three of the races. There's a good mix of terrain out there with faster pavement and grass, thick lumpy grass, and loose dirt and gravel. There are also a lot of buildings which get incorporated into the course. Still, after a few times you are ready to go somewhere else. Two races were at the ranch club golf course again, plus one more Wednesday at big sky brewing along with Rolling Thunder.

The first race went okay, and then the 2nd, also at the fairgrounds, went fairly well. I was actually racing against a few other guys, made an attack, and stayed ahead. Another "not last" performance. The third week was at the golf course, and it was hot. 80ish degrees with a bunch of trips down the driving range, which was thick, sucking grass. I had a bad time, no power, and a lot of racers from slower groups got by me. There's that lack of consistency again. The next week was back at the fairgrounds and I went early to help set up the course, which was fun. But then I got a funny cramp in my leg before the start and it wouldn't go away in the race.


photos by John Sieber. He has great galleries from all the wed night races on facebook.

Week 5 was back at the golf course, but they took out some of the hard grass sections and instead we went around and through some buildings and even into the pool section, and used a bit more cart path. They even had a jump, along with a skinny bridge over a sand trap carried over from the previous race. I liked the A-line/B-line element and was taking the jump, which was about an 18" ledge into a steep grass landing, so you would go pretty far with good speed. The other option was to ride through the sand which is slower. There were a few crashes, I assume from not carrying enough speed into it and landing nose heavy. Or braking hard on landing and sliding out maybe.



I have tended to start kind of slow and in the back, this time I was not actually the last guy into the first corner and then passed a few more during the race. Felt pretty good about it although I might have placed higher in some other ones. And then the ranch club has food and cheap beer afterward. Probably my favorite race course of the season.

Week 6 was at big sky brewing. I went out and helped set up the course over the week and so I got a lot of practice riding in, plenty of free beer, and a cool rolling thunder sweatshirt. The problem was that I also managed to catch a cold. Wednesday's race didn't go well, I was the last finisher in A (which still got me 12/20), and spent the rest of the week trying to rest and sleep as much as possible before thunder.

Since Rolling Thunder was not a usac race, I decided to sign up for cat 3, which is done at night with the 1/2s. It was that or cat 4 at 3pm, and who doesn't want to do the night race with the fast guys? The order of races is pretty much slow to fast, which gives all the spectators and other racers time to drink a lot of free beer to watch the last ones, which were at 7:20 for women's 1/2/3 and 8:30 for the men. Total registrations for the day ended up at something like 350, with over 50 in just our 1/2/3 group. For Montana that is a huge turnout.

I had raced okay on Wednesdays, knew the course well, and even had a fresh tire with sharp cornering knobs on the front, but was still feeling sick. I even got a front row call up. Then watched everyone go by me into the first corner. Could not even stay in touch with the guys I had been racing all season, felt worse and worse as the race went on, and finally just pulled off and changed into some warm clothes with a few laps to go. Someone handed me a beer, I didn't even want to drink it.

So that was my rolling thunder; pretty disappointing. Aside from that it was a pretty awesome event. Shaun and Dan from The Cycling House, Joe from Big Sky, Cory from Competitive Timing, and everyone else did a really great job putting it together. It was also nice to have the guys from Missoula Bicycle Works there with tents, a grill, a fire, and moral support.



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