The fact that it's January and I'm doing more cross races instead of nordic skiing makes it harder and harder to take myself seriously as a ski racer. But on the other hand, who gives a crap, racing is fun and worth writing about. The alternative would be training reports and race recaps like "It was an individual start and I got beat by a 14-year old." And no one needs that.
Anyway the nordic career will get underway tomorrow night with Tuesday Night Smackdown at Weston (in 50 degree weather...) and then some sprints next weekend.
In the meanwhile, though, it was down to Dayville for the second time this season, racing on basically the same course except with snow added. The snow caused just one dismount per lap thanks to some shoveling, but there was a lot of soft corn snow (it was 45 degrees) to plow through and lap times were 1-2 minutes slower than the first race.
Of course since it's January no one showed up, apparently it's considerably easier to want a longer cross season than it is to actually support one. But I digress. We had 8 people on the start line and it was fun.
There was a newly (re)crowned national champion in attendance, and you might be surprised to know that he ran away with it. Also toeing the line was CTodd, Paul Curley, Justin (on a single speed), Ethan Parsons (not on a single speed for a change), David Wilcox from Broadway Bikes and some other roadie type who was in over his head.
A mediocre warmup and poor fueling caused me to start slowly (on purpose I swear) so I was 7th going into the sandpit when Paul Curley showed us how his years of cx experience taught him to ride around sand pits. It's true; apparently if they don't tape the far side of the pit you can just ride around because you "don't want to mess up your drivetrain (his actual post race "justification" for skipping the pit every lap)" Luckily the other seven riders had some concept of the spirit of the sport and rode through it. And that's enough about that.
The first hill was the muddiest thing I'd ridden all year, I could barely scale it with a 42x25 low gear and Justin immediately put his marathon training to use running with his single speed. This put me up to 6th and I made sure to waste a lot of oxygen letting him know about it.
On the first snowy downhill I made a stupid move trying to pass C Todd. It turns out that when two people are plowing through 5 inches of snow while trying to corner, you shouldn't try to fit through a space that's slightly wider than your bars. Who knew??
C Todd didn't kill me and then I ran myself off the trail at some point, so he got back in front. Then at the end of the lap I was aggressively tailing him through the sketchy singletrack descent and went straight over the bars when I lost the front wheel on the corner, which hurt my wrists and made my hands wet and cold. In summary, I rode like an idiot.
But it was a long race, so I had plenty of time to settle in to something that could be approximated as a "rhythm" and move up to where I actually should be racing. Over 3 or 4 laps I got all the way up to 3rd, and started to have the funny idea I could actually catch Curley until GeWilli told me the gap was 30 seconds. Plus, I was running out of laps and brakes, to the point where I was having to run the last downhill because I couldn't brake reliably -- so I didn't catch him, at all.
Really though, that sandpit/snow/mud combination ate my pads harder than I expected, by the 3rd lap I had to use the top mounts to get solid braking and by the 6th lap I was pulling the rear top mount almost to the bar. I guess I shouldn't use my brakes so much.
Anyway, the end result was 3rd out of 8, I got covered in mud, my wrists hurt from the crash, my toes were blocks of ice when I finished (running in wet snow will do that to ya)... woooooooo CROSS!
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