With the first day of racing not having gone down as I would have liked. It was with a lot of mixed feelings I had about racing the second day.
My motivation for ‘cross racing later in the season just never hit high gear -- be it because of results, mechanicals or frustration with the entire points/call up system. However I don’t give up on anything easily, even to my own detriment. The appeal of racing the 2nd day was definitely the conditions….
… living as far North as I do I’d been riding & training in snow cover for two weeks already. It’s a different kind of handling that dry land, power racers will be challenged with. It makes for a very interesting race.
What I didn’t count on, was the need for mud tires vs. all around tires and the fiasco Shimano SPD cleats & pedals are in mud. Rumor has it Jonathan Page swears by them, but if so he’s definitely knows something a lot of the rest of us don’t.
Got to the start had a good warmup, ready & excited to have a good race. A fun race. I wasn’t so sure how well I’d do against the best guys today, but I liked my odds against most everyone else. The call ups for the start were supposed to go by the previous days results, which would have put me in the 2nd row, however for some reason that wasn’t happening. Ugh. (Sometimes you just have to roll your eyes).
The start was nothing short of going thru 100+ yards of a sprinkler system with water spray coming off everyone’s tires. The slip & slide started once we hit the above pictures snow field. I’m comfortably cruising along with others around me fighting the conditions when in an instant it changes, my wheel slips & I go down sliding into tape knocking down several poles. Once again DFL. Ugh.
Though that would do me no favors it wouldn’t be the first or last time of the day. I had fun riding in the conditions and pushed it harder than the combination of tires I had for the day (Michelin Mud 2 & Challenge Grifo) allowed.
A race like this keeps things interesting & constantly back & forth, as one rider pulls ahead over certain sections, he’s pulled back over another. Again a similar sized field I managed to get back after a couple laps close to the top ten and was riding stronger than other riders….however, I brought the proverbial knife to a gun fight. Two hills in the race required me to get off & run because my tires would slip out while the others road the climbs. Secondly, the aforementioned SPD style cleat/pedal setup got absolutely clogged with mud, requiring a person to bang the soles of the shoes against the pedals several times before the would clip in and one could get pedalling again. So for every advantage I would take before the hills fell back after them. All a guy could do is shrug & try harder the succeeding laps, but with that came the increasing frequency of wiping out. I think I managed four pretty stellar wipeouts in the 6 or 7 laps.
I finished losing out two spots in a spill near the end to get 15th for the second consecutive day.
The guys at the front I’d see at the mid point in the race…a half lap away had some good back & forth racing though, congrats out to Neff & Stelljes, trading 1st & 2nd both days. And a nod goes to Trevor Koss who I’ve had some good battles with in the past for finishing 7th & 4th on the weekend.
Despite the excitement of slipping and sliding in the race it palled in comparison to my attempted drive home after the race. A normal 5hr drive, soon turned into what would have been a 10 or 11hr drive if after fishtailing my car & doing a 180 degree spin in the road just barely ending up deep in a ditch. By the time I’d gotten near Marshfield 4+hrs later I was ready to call it quits grab a hotel room & sit in a hot tub. Which is exactly what I did & waited til the next morning to get home.
With National Championships about a month away,a frustrating season to date & an excitement for experimentation with my MTB training for next season. It was looking more & more like this might be the end of the season for me. Sometimes things pan out that way. It’s said it’s better to take a break, enjoy your sport, hobby, passion or interest than to keep pushing on. As it turns out the following week I’d end up with influenza & even if I wanted to race Nationals that put a end to it completely. Getting sick from that can really knock the crap out of ya.
So it’s been starting from square one since Xmas & looking forward to a fun & promising MTB season. With 2013 now here, hopefully some time with free up to write up some recaps for the bests/worsts of 2012… stay tuned.