Some people will drive a long way if you comp their entry and put $2000 in prize money up.
Turns out I'm in the latter group. The Spectacross promoter decided to stage via crossresults.com points, aka mah shit, and decided to comp me an entry to his event because he's nicer than he has to be. Cool. A cross race on July 31st? That's the right kind of wrong, if you ask me.
So Linnea and I did the (surprisingly short) drive down to Jer-zee to throw down at the state fair -- because nothing says 'cross like food on a stick.
The drive down was slowed by multiple tornado-quality thunderstorms. We arrived to a mostly deserted state fair (even carny folk won't run the Ferris Wheel in thunder like that) and a soaking wet cross course. Bunch 'o cars parked next to the course, all full of riders peering apprehensively at a the one guy preriding, who appeared to have been spray-painted brown.
I didn't have to race for a good 2 hours so at least I had an excuse to cower in the car while other people raced through standing water. My plan of refreshing the doppler on my phone every 10 seconds worked and it stopped raining. I kitted up, rode a lap, destroyed my brake pads, soiled my chamois, and hopped on the trainer. Oh cross, how I missed you.
After a pathetic warmup I rushed over to the start line. I realized that my front wheel didn't turn very well, tried to head back to the car to adjust, got yelled at by Alan Atwood. Oh Alan, how I missed you!
The field was small but the course was tight and the race was short, so the holeshot was key. Jonny Bold grabbed it with Al Donahue, Ben Popper and I on his wheel. We tiptoed around the turns in super-muddy tractor pull arena for a bit until we got to the tightest turn, which I used Linnea's PROTIP advice to get off and run around on the tight line while everyone else was trackstanding. I sprinted like a madman and passed Ben, remounted and blocked him out into the next turn. Hooray for pointless match-burning! He passed me back in 10 seconds later because he had carbon wheels.
Then he went to the front of the race to duke it out with Jonny and Al while I decided to pay the price for starting too fast. Thirty minutes is actually a pretty long time to suffer, which I should have known from short track mountain bike racing. The 3+ minute lap didn't help matters either, after four laps I was looking for lap cards and they said six to go. Ooooh, not even halfway done.
Luckily, there was so much super-slick braking and turning that mandatory 2-second rests were all over the course, so my explosion was nowhere near as bad as it could have been. I quickly dropped to fifth, and then down to sixth with 3 laps to go. But 3 laps is only 10 minutes! I can suffer that long. Usually.
I clung to his wheel for two laps, ate several pounds of what was hopefully mud, and then attacked with one to go.
Three minutes 'o pain, let's do this! Sprint sprint... brake...corner delicately... sprint sprint sprint.. repeat until full of lactic.
...so then I bobbled a corner coming into the longest straightaway, put a foot down for a split-second and he's gone, sprinting all-out as I try to get back on my gear from a standing start. DAMMIT.
Alec Donahue was kind enough to break his derailleur off, giving me 5th place on the day anyway... and fifth place was worth a ridiculous $85, aka the biggest payout I will get all season. Everyone fast from the Mid Atlantic who stayed home -- thanks!
Post race we hit the cattle stalls to wash bikes. For serious. State fair crossin' is not your average crossin'.
This was more "pure" than all the grass crits you will race in September [ from redskynight ]