I'm a bit late in writing this having had to make up some time at work for time missed for sick family the week before. Knowing that I had no races weekend after this race I figured I would get it done then, but that didn't happen either, so here I am at 8:45pm on a Monday night blogging for all of my fan.
Race number six for me this year was the Tacchino Ciclocross put on by the awesome Jim McNeely (his blog is a *great* read) and the Squadra Coppi gang. I did this race last year and the atmosphere was awesome. This year Jim and Squadra Coppi outdid themselves. Back this year were the live blues band, food vendor serving all kinds of sausages and frites, real bathrooms and one hell of an awesome course. The course retained all of the features from last year, but was lengthened with more turns in the open areas to help alleviate some of the scoring issues and pulling of riders that occurred last year. One new feature this year was a double log jump which I elected to run after watching several of the guys from the first race do endos as they tried to ride them.
This year our team got some team parking and an area to set up our camp and canopy. Since my race is the earliest (i.e. I am the slowest person on my team) I brought the tent and got the area set up. This created a bit of a problem for me in that it took me out of my routine. I didn't get on the bike to pre-ride the course until 20 minutes after 8am; usually I am on the course by 8am. After a couple of laps, I registered and got my numbers pinned on then watched some of the 9am race. I got in a decent warmup and got to the starting area in plenty of time to ensure I wasn't relegated to the rear again. What I didn't do was pop my 9:30am gel and this proved to be bad news about three laps into the race.
When the whistle sounded I got a decent start but then was almost wrecked as the rider on my inside didn't see the first turn and went straight as I started to turn. After a short stint through the woods we exited into a fast off-camber downhill which got more and more slippery as the day went on. This was followed by a slightly slick and steep uphill which killed the legs. Once you got to the top you continued on a mostly upward ride before descending down towards the beer pavilion, main viewing area, an barriers. After the barriers there was a tight technical section which led into more woods and exited into some more turns before the log jump, pavilion and finally back to the start. The continuous uphill section after the leg killer hill was really tough for me. In the one area here where you might recover, you were met with a rather stiff headwind which required more effort than I wanted to expend to try to hold wheels. By the third lap my energy started to crash as a result of not having eaten anything since 7am and I slowly began to drop back. I ended up 76 out of 88 starters but feel like I might have held onto a few more spots had I eaten that gel. Next time I won't be so careless.
After the race I went back to the team camp and socialized with team mates and friends. Jen and Steve Riskus brought some awesome eats and beer which basically saved my life. Seriously. Even though Steve wasn't racing because of a wrist injury, I picked the spot I thought he might be in the B race and cheered for him anyway. The Elite Masters race had two of my team mates, Blair Saunders and Mike Birner, in it and it was an awesome race. From the onset Blair opened up a gap to Mike and ABRT rider Chris Harshman. The race was neutralized after a couple of laps due to a horse racing on the course after having thrown its rider. It was interesting to say the least. Once restarted Blair increased his gap and took the win with Mike taking second. A great day of racing for the Ben's Performance Bicycles team and a great day overall.
I left after the Elite Masters race, but the Elite Men's race was something to behold with Joe Dombrowski starting a full two minutes in arrears because of a slow warmup lap and fighting his way to the front for the win. Amazing to say the least.
Looking forward to Schooley Mill and Rockburn this coming weekend. Only three races left this year, then I really need to get back on the Time Crunched Cyclist Training Program. Tailgunner helmet cam below. Enjoy.