Midnight Ride is one of my favorite cross races, but I never blog about it because it comes right before Night Weasels, and for some mysterious reason I always have a lot of things that seem more important than blogging around that time. But not this year!
(I wonder what Night Weasels task I'm forgetting right now)
The reason I love Midnight Ride, of course, is that the course is 85% turning, which makes the other 15% sprinting, and those are the only two things I can do in a cyclocross race. Yeah baby!
This year they changed the holeshot from "sketchy gravel chicane in the dark" to "back to back 180s in the light" which was ... differently sketchy. My scrubby third row start spot (sigh) led to frenzied sprinting into frenzied brake-jacking into frenzied argy-bargy turning -- but somehow I filtered through without incident and headed out into lap one right behind Chandler Delinks and Kevin Sweeney in the top 20.
Kevin left a 1.5 bike length gap to Chandler in the dirt track, and obviously, by lap one rules, this meant I needed to stick my bike in there. He responded to this micro-aggression by passing me back on the remount after barriers, and then chopped Chandler for good measure on the next corner... only to get caught in a rut in the dark right after that, go sideways, and only just miss taking me out.
I swore and cackled maniacally and man do I love lap one.
It takes a long time for groups to form at Midnight Ride, because it's SO FAST, but eventually the elastic snapped somewhere ahead of me, and somewhere behind, and I was left in a group of 6 with Ben Grenier, Tim Ratta, Mike Rowell, Jules Goguely and Chandler.
I hung out on the back of the group, mainly because moving up at all was IMPOSSIBLE. The only way to pass at Midnight Ride is via aggressive dive bombing, or sprinting with 4 digit power numbers, and I wasn't in the mood for either of those things. And if you do manage to move up, the second you leave any kind of gap open, the guy behind you will just steal it back -- so it seemed way easier to just completely give up on getting off the back.
The only problem was that we were slowly getting caught from behind by Mark Miller. Instead of getting to the front and pushing the pace (lol) I tried informing the group that we were getting caught and needed to go faster. The motivational effects of this were limited.
Mark caught us.
I left a 0.8-bike-length gap open so Mark put his bike in there, and I re-established my position at the back of the group.
The lap cards said 2, and I realized that it was nearing the time when I needed to start actually fighting for position.
Somewhere in here Tim and Chandler bowed out of the group. Tim had one really bad lap time so I assume he crashed or something... and of course Chandler just sucks (hi Chandler!) so that probably explains that.
In the last lap things got super fast and I realized that Jules was gapping all of us. There were three bodies between him and I, but I went through the barriers at hyperspeed and then blatantly blocked Mark and Ben with my bike (last lap rules!!!!) to move up. Then I sprinted super hard for the next few turns because I was terrified of being on the receiving end of that kind of behavior.
This kinda split the group, though, and I came out of the wood chip section with just Mike Rowell. I told myself something motivating like "the end of the race is at the top of this hill, just pass him!!" and then immediately gave up on that plan when we accelerated to roughly 60 miles per hour on the way up the hill.
Luckily I am a jerky sprinter type, so I didn't actually need to go past here, I just thought it would have been a much, uh, "classier" way to beat him than just winning the sprint after sitting on. And I am nothing if not classy! But I'm also a bike racer, so obviously I outsprinted him for the last paying spot sixty seconds later.
Here I am being way too full of adrenaline and High Life and rambling about bike racing:
Now it is time to make the weasel! Thanks for reading.