Sunday, October 24, 2010

Here's Mud In Your Eye

I arrived at the cyclocross race in Coeur d'Alene 30 minutes before the start which is not a good thing. After registering I rode over to the race area. A race was in progress so after learning where the start was I went out on a nearby trail and rode to warm up. This time was in the Cat 4 men's race instead of the 50+ masters. To tell the truth, I didn't see much difference. Most everybody left me behind.

I got in the back of the pack at the start. There was a pileup right away and as I went by I saw John extricating himself from the back of it. He powered by me at the first long sandy stretch. Those sandy parts really sucked the life out of me. During the first lap I stayed on John's tail. He was moving pretty good. After coming out of a serpentine-like section I decided I'd had enough of the mud flying in my face and scurried past John and a couple others.

Suddenly I ran out of trail. I stood there like an idiot and wondered why the plastic tape was blocking my way. Then I heard someone yelling, "Up here!" I had blown right by the climb. What a moron! Now had I got there early enough to ride the course at least once....

Finishing up the second lap I hit the first of the three long sandy parts. I lost my line, veering off to one side and saving myself from crashing. Then I did it again on the next long sandy stretch. And then one more time. After that I decided to get off and run through them. I went just as fast if not faster and definitely used less energy than riding through them.


The course had no shortage of puddles and mud. This being my second race and with the conditions so bad I had little confidence in my cornering so I was taking the turns way too wide. I backed off and focused on making good turns. I was surprised how well I could stay on line while turning in the mud but I still have a lot to learn.

My second moronic moment occurred on the last lap. There was one climb you could ride up. It was just steep and long enough so that when you hit the top you still had to crank the pedals hard to crest it. After the first lap I practiced running at the hill hard and then shifting down two gears as I started to climb so I could spin my way over the top. On the last lap I shifted up two gears instead. You could hear the bike frame creaking--or maybe it was my legs--as I pulled on the handlebars and mashed the pedal down as hard as I could. That would have been the worst place to come to a stop.

I only got five laps in since the race leaders blew by me. My lungs were burning and I was a filthy mess--just like everyone else. It was a good hard race. Next Sunday I'm in the race at Steilacoom.

4 comments:

Spokane Al said...

Congratulations on getting out there and doing it.

And good luck next week at Steilacoom. We used to own a home in that little town (the first incorporated town in WA) back in the early 80s while stationed at McChord AFB.

Jason Gilman said...

Nice job Hank! The more I read about Cyclocross from you and John Speare the more appealing it looks. The logistics weren't good this year, but hopefully I can work it out to try a few races next year.

Incidentally is Josh doing any kind of semi-organized athletic activity in college? I know after 4 years of cross country and track I was completely ready for a break when I got to college, so I understand if he's not. In retrospect I wish I had gotten into cycling rather than the minimal aerobic activity interspersed with the occasional intramural that characterized my college years. Considering he's got a motor that is capable of a 4:20 mile it would be cool to see what he can do on a bike.

Hank said...

Thanks, Al.

Jason,

It's fun but it's a hard work kind of fun. And humbling. I fancied myself as being a pretty strong rider until I did this.

Josh is running on his own now. He's not fast enough for college. He's also a strong cyclist but he hasn't shown interest in any racing.

Shan said...

Sounds like an awesome time. Love the photos, too.