Downeast Cyclocross Day 1 Bar Cam from colin reuter on Vimeo.
Last year's Downeast CX was traumatic. Not only was it 38 and raining, but the course was bland on a level usually reserved for Canton (burnnnn). I was so not looking forward to coming back here that I thought long and hard about scheduling this as my "off weekend." As Verge series staff, I might have to show up -- but you can't make me race!
Then. I looked at the course map and EVERYTHING changed. It was just an MS-paint scribble on a google map, but the message was clear: we are changing everything about this course, and it's going to be twisty as hell.
Combine that with everyone fast being at the Louisville USGP and suddenly, I had a longshot at UCI points in front of me. What little training plans I have were scrapped, it's time to peak, baby!
Of course the first step to having a surprisingly good race is to get a good start -- and I drew big bad #68 out of the hat for staging.
What's that? Did that last sentence MAKE NO SENSE?
Yeah, so we agree.
The UCI decided to enforce the ole "people without UCI points get staged by drawing lots" rule, which meant we had to see Alan and literally pick a number out of a hat to see where we'd be called up. He had the digits 1-80 for 25 guys, so while drawing #68 didn't mean I was 68th... it still meant back row. Because we only had 33 starters (some poor bastard was the only guy in row 5!) it wasn't that bad, but come on, this is a really dumb way to stage when we have Verge points, crossresults.com points, and embrocation sheens we could be ranked by.
Race starts. I correctly predicted the left-side pinch in turn 1 and got situated about where I belonged. In the first minute, Justin Lindine gets into a crash and ends up back with me. In the second minute, David Wilcox gets into a crash and ends up running with a bike without a rear wheel. In the third minute, Justin Lindine was riding so slow I got gapped off the wheel ahead of him.
So that was a pretty weird way to start the race.
Justin eventually pitted and sorted his issues out, rode back to my group, hung out for a while (?!), and then finished 2nd after taking the first 2 laps off. That must be cool.
I ended up with a group whose composition I totally forget once we settled in. Greg Whitney was steadily closing on us, so I figured instead of attacking the group I'd just wait for Greg to go through it and try to go with him, because I'm nothing if not lazycrafty.
Sure enough Greg catches us, immediately moves to the front and starts riding away. I jump on him like the lamprey I am and think, "take me to the UCI points, baby!"
Two minutes later he gaps me because he might seriously be riding up to the UCI points, holy crap. And since he pulled me away from the group, now it's time to ride alone and wonder how the lap cards could still be so high!
My primary concern now was the Wilcox. As pretty much anyone to race in the "Cat 2 zone" (that's ahead of the BRKZ, but outta that UCI points) can attest, Dave Wilcox turns the fastest two laps this side of Tim Johnson to end the race. If you ride the first 45 minutes with Dave, you are going to lose the race. If you have a 30 second lead on Dave after 45 minutes, that should be considered a dead heat.
I had been watching him chase me (having found a rear wheel, sadly) and the gap was steady through the middle of the race. Suddenly, with three to go, it started coming down. Sure, it looked safe, but I've been here before. Time to panic.
And by "panic" I mean "ride some really good laps." Greg's quest for UCI points had blown up and I caught him with two to go. Last year, I would've sat on his wheel here. This year, I knew the Wilcox was coming. I told Greg he was coming. I took the lead, tried to get Greg to work with me, but he just didn't have THE FEAR needed to keep the pace. He probably thought I was attacking him. I'm only attacking you to save you, Greg! We gotta goooo!
Alas! Greg was lost to the unstoppable force that is Dave Wilcox on the final lap. He was a good man, god rest his soul.
But I rode WICKED HARD (GUY!) and made it the finish with 10 seconds to spare over the Wilcox. Sure, his wheel fell out, and sure, he ate up 15 seconds in the last two laps, but the point is that I SAW IT COMING WITH ENOUGH TIME TO HANG ON! And gosh darnit, that's still a hard-earned victory in my book.
In non-Wilcox news I was 14th, which is my best UCI finish ever, and missed the last UCI points by 54 seconds. I guess that's noteworthy too.
I'm a gazelle! [rick]