Today was my first race of the 2010 cyclocross season. This hasn't been a stellar year for me as far as training goes; with the new baby it has been challenging to find time to ride even though Karrie has been wonderful about letting me go when things are under control. As a result, I have about 95 hours on the bike thus far this year whereas I would like to have ~40 hours per month so I am quite a bit short. The consequences of that are that my fitness is lackluster, perhaps even worse than last year, which was pretty bad. However, in the past two weeks I have set a couple personal bests on the bike for power as well as how far I have pushed myself into the pain cave and this gave me some hope going into the Charm City cross race today.
That hope was short-lived in what turned out to be a rather weird day in general. I got to the race plenty early fighting butterflies the whole drive down, went to registration and got my number then did a few recon laps. They modified the course a fair amount from last year, adding a gnarly off-camber turn around a tree which freaked me out every time I rode it. After a couple of laps I wandered over to the start area for the Cat4 race to see a few friends. Once they were off I returned to the truck to pin on my number, grab some water and last minute things, then rode around the outside of the course cheering people on. Karrie called to say she was on her way with the boys but might not get there in time to see the start of my race. Once the Cat4 leaders finished I took to doing a couple more laps to warm up before heading to the starting corral for the B-Masters race. As I pulled into the starting area an official informed me that I had two problems: (1) I was not allowed to wear my helmet camera, and (2) my number was on upside down. As I scrambled to fix my number I missed my call up and had to start two or three rows behind where I should have.
When the whistle blew I put out what I thought was a pretty good effort (one of my weaknesses from last year) but was still passed by 30 or more riders before the first turn. In the first turn there was a pretty large pileup in front of me which brought the group to a near standstill. Once through it was not long (about half a lap) before I was essentially racing myself, which made for a long race. About that time I could hear my biggest fan screaming for me to get moving; Karrie and the boys had made it in time. I love this woman who comes to my races and watches me suffer and be slow, all the time cheering for me on every lap as if I were in first place; they don't make them any more awesome than her. The first two laps had me feeling nauseous and after that passed my back really started to bother me. Mercifully I was lapped by the leader on his last lap which meant I had to do one less lap than I was anticipating. Unofficial results had me 90th out of 125 registered...not sure how many actually started but I wasn't last.
After my race I met up with Karrie, Brady and Lucas who were sitting under a tree on a blanket relaxing; Brady was very excited about having watched me race and in anticipation of his own race in a few hours. After changing clothes I bought a couple of glasses of fresh lemonade and then went to check out the food vendor. The food looked awesome but was rather gourmet and they had just run out of chicken and pork, leaving lamb and shrimp which Brady was not going to eat. We packed up and went to a Burger King a mile or so down the road. While we were there, Karrie discovered that she left the innards of Luke's bottle at the house. Attempts to feed him via a sippy cup did not go well and so Karrie decided that she needed to go home but that Brady and I would stay for his race.
After seeing them off, Brady and I walked to registration to sign him up for his race, then back to the truck to grab his bike and helmet before going to the course to do some practice. Brady had never ridden his bike on the grass so it was something new to both of us. Turns out his training wheels are a bit low resulting in copious amounts of wheel spin at times; consequently I had to push or pull him around the course. He did really, really great in his race and is excited about doing more and practicing at our house. I'll have to adjust his training wheels, but the hope is to get them off the bike as soon as possible.
With Brady's race over we decided we would stick around an watch a little bit more. We got in line for lemonade but it was moving kind of slow so we got out almost immediately and went to the beer stand to get me something; unfortunately they were out. Back in line at the lemonade stand, the failed quest for beer cost us two spots in line. After waiting in line for about 20 minutes, and with one person in front of us, they ran out of ice and couldn't make any more lemonade; had we not gone for beer we would have gotten the last glass of lemonade. After this debacle we decided it better to just go home.
The weirdness of the day was capped off with a trip to our favorite Mexican restaurant (after debating staying home because Brady was rather grumpy) about 15 miles away only to find that it is closed on Sunday, even though we both swear we've eaten there on Sunday before. We ended up at the Green Turtle and everyone was satisfied.
So event number one is a wrap. Ed Sanders Cross next Sunday is a new event for me as I did not do the race last year. One final thing of note for race number one: I started the morning at 193.4 pounds, my lightest thus far and several people at the race mentioned my weight loss, most of them I haven't seen since last year. The one exception was Karrie who said that I looked so much slimmer than last year, but compared to most of the other guys out there racing I was still rather plump. Such is my life on the bike.