Every time I go to write this blog entry, I get caught up in the beauty of the chainstay cam and forget what I was doing. Gaaaaahd that looks good. I can't believe how stable it is. Seriously, just watch it. Yowza.
Ok, so after lasting ninety seconds at Canton, I had a problem. I don't actually train at all during the week for most of cross season, and it totally works, as long as you race every weekend. But now I had a giant bruise on my knee (my bad knee!) and the prospect of racing for under 2 minutes in the whole weekend. Crisis!
Obviously this meant I would be ignoring my knee issues (heard that before?) and heading up to Orchard Cross on Sunday. I was relieved to see that golf ball-sized lump I went to sleep with was mostly gone in the morning, I had decent range of motion, and the frigid breeze was sure to keep the swelling down.
Despite the blasting sun it was freezing up at the Orchard, so I went into winter cx racer mode, where you do a warmup on the course an hour before your race, sit in your car for 45 minutes, do a hot lap, and race. When I was sitting in my car, surprisingly cold, watching the sun go down, I did not really want to race and my legs felt like crap. Once I was on the start line, my brain was like "oh yeah, skinsuits and numbers and ProTour riders, sweet," but my legs still didn't want to race.
So of course I rode lap one way too hard. I had a mediocre start, picked off a few guys on the climbs, and suddenly realized that PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST TED KING was just in front of me. We were coming into a gravel road climb. He rides professionally in Europe. I make websites. I should definitely, without a doubt, accelerate to get on his wheel.
We passed Pete Bradshaw on the climb, which is weird because I never pass Bradshaw, but that's ok, I'm just riding 140% of threshold without really warming up, no big deal. Ted dismounted early for the stairs so I ran past him, figuring I should at least get him on camera since I came all this way.
Over the top of the hill I moved up to Jonny Bold's wheel (yeah, nothing weird about that) and set about recovering.
Two minutes later I was not recovered at all, we got out of the twisty part, and I threw out my parachute like I'd just done a sub-10 quarter mile. Ted, Pete and Mike Wissell went by me, never to be seen again.
Worst of all, my lap one heroics had given me all of a ten-second gap on Ryan Kelly, and it was going to take me a lot more than 10 seconds to recover. As if he isn't always motivated to put me in the BRKZ, his girlfriend Amanda was running around yelling at us -- so yeah, I went ROCKETING into the BRKZ on lap 2. Stephen Pierce and Collin Huston were also kind enough to come around me while I tried to figure out how if I was actually going blind due to lactic acid.
Then I had the prerequisite "lap where you feel sorry for yourself and think about quitting, then remember you can't quit because you need the training."
Then I sat on Collin Huston's wheel for a bit, and then I WANTED TO RACE AGAIN!
The lap cards said three to go, and Ryan was still in sight. Sometimes. All hope is not lost.
So I started riding really friggin' hard. Like Dave-Wilcox-Is-Behind-Me hard. I said to Collin "we have to get Ryan" and he just scoffed. So I had to drop him. I caught Pierce, he asked me how I was feeling. "I FEEL LIKE I HAVE TO CATCH RYAN T. KELLY OR I WILL NEVER HEAR THE END OF IT. IT IS A SICKENING FEELING. I HOPE YOU NEVER EXPERIENCE IT," I told him. Or at least that's what I meant to say. Might've just panted "gotta catch Ryan" as I blew past.
Somehow after two laps of riding really friggin' hard I caught Ryan. Last year, Ryan would've talked some trash to me at this time. This year, he said nothing, because SHIT. IS. REAL.
I attacked him on the downhill past the pit as we got the bell, expecting him to crash his roadie brains out, or at least hit the brakes and get gapped. He did neither. This worried me.
Luckily the course was laid out in a fashion that put the Colin-favorable part at the end of the lap. As long as I could make it to the top of the runup in the lead, I could make it safely into my briar patch and escape. So I did the logical thing... get on the front and slow it down.
Because lets face it, when it's down to you and one other person on the last lap, and you've been riding your balls off for 55 minutes, and he says "hey, let's go a bit slower for a while" -- you really, really want to agree with him*.
And just like that, we made it to the runup, I ran as hard as I could, held the lead, railed the twisties, and scampered to the finish with a six second cushion.
*Unless your name is Dave Wilcox.