Baystate Cyclocross Day 1
Day 1 was as good as it gets for cyclocross. High of 32, sun melting the snow, then the sun setting and elites racing on a freezing course that was changing every lap. The ruts had been pliable during preride became icy channels of bike-eating death. It was glorious.
The video is quite good looking, in my opinion, you should watch it.
The one time I tried to draft someone on a non-paved surface was also the one time I got eaten by a rut I didn't see and crashed. On my way to the ground, a dude who was riding next to me and probably thought I was going to keep riding in a straight line plowed his front wheel into my bars, which snapped most of my brake lever off and sent him flying over the bars.
Somehow my bike still shifted and sort of braked, even missing most of the brake lever, so we were still in business.
Riding hard was a good way to crash while not actually going faster, so I focused on riding smooth and felt like things were going pretty well ... but then I got pulled at 2 to go because Curtis White is significantly better human than me. When I realized we were getting pulled I elected not to sprint past Derrick St John, which is how you can tell he is not a scrub zone regular.
Final result: 36th/54. Last guy in the middle third!
By the time I got home at 8, there was no way I was going to cannibalize my road bike's shifter and derailleur (it's SRAM, so I can't just take the shifter) to replace my broken brake lever. And, I mean, it worked for five laps after the crash on Saturday, so it's probably fine, right?
The conditions were way warmer and totally grossgnar. Most of the course was a single rideable strip of softening mud, surrounded by mashed potato snow. It was clear that passing would be VERY tough, so it's a really important holeshot, dude!
So that's how I ended up tailgating Nick Keough into a muddy, slushy, blinding holeshot off the pavement and totally failing to control my bike (did I mention my rear brake lever was mostly broken off?) when the inevitable slowdown happen. I crossed my front wheel over his back and had to completely abandon ship to keep my bike from going into his wheel.
And that's how I ended up on my back in the middle of 50 bike racers with a shifter that had been downgraded from "mostly still working" to "mostly not working."
I rode half a lap on my 2-speed bike trying to decide if I could be competitive in the gears I had remaining.
At the off-camber by the dugout, some dudes were tiptoeing the high line and I was in freak-out-and-make-places mode so I went in low and hot... and outriggerred sideways into the mud ditch they were avoiding. I didn't crash but I did hit my saddle hard enough to slip it in the clamp and reposition it for maximum ball-pokage, so that was the end of thinking about riding the race on that bike.
Luckily my wife's bike was in the pit! Unluckily, it had Clement MXPs (note: not a mud tire) on it, so I crashed on the first off camber after the pit. And the second off-camber.
I was now in the lastiest of places on a bike that didn't fit (why are these bars so far away?!) with tires that sucked. Quitting seemed like a good option, but this is the year where I stop quitting and start finding ways to have fun even when I'm sucking, dammit.
On the finish straight I found Catherine Sterling (who had just raced) and I asked (told) her to move my bike into the other pit, which was completely ridiculous because why would she even know what my bike looks like? She also answered me with "there's two pits?" which was not ideal.
But by some miracle, in the two minutes it took me to get to that pit, she and JD found my bike and got it there.
Then we executed a double wheel change in the bit, which is not something that happens very often!
Now I had a bike with mud tires and all the gears and a saddle that was level. I also had about a minute gap to get out of last place. And at the end of the lap, the cards said "EIGHT," so the lap was super short and Curtis was going to be paying me a visit uncomfortably soon.
There were two dudes dangling at a just-barely-plausible distance ahead of me, which kept me oddly motivated for two more laps (all of 15 minutes of racing!), and I managed to sneak past them into not-last just before we got pulled. Yay bike racing!