Jackson Park Cyclocross
September 23, 2007 – Chicago, IL
Cat 4 – 48th
Ah, my first cyclocross race. Why hadn’t I done this years ago? It was just like English-style cross country on a bike. Balls to the wall the entire time with barriers and what not getting in the way. As I was tiring out, I said “This sucks!” Not that I hated cyclocross, I was just expressing my frustration about some new and totally fun. I just need some damn practice.
The Jackson Park CX race was the first of the year in the Chicago Cross Cup and was put on by my team XXX Racing/Athletico. The weather was perfect (sunny and 70s) and was totally uncrosslike (a new word, copywriter’s perogative). I talked my girlfriend into volunteering, so we showed up a few hours before my race to help with registration and course marshaling.
Turnout was good and the park wasn’t too busy with other users, so racers didn’t have to contend with errant soccer balls and hotdog wrappers. I got to preride most of the course and watch some of the other races to see how people handled the barriers. Always a good thing to do if you’re new to CX.
The Cat 4 race had about 70 guys in it. Brian Boyle of XXX led a moment of silence in memory of Pieter Ombregt who died the previous week in a crash. Considering Pieter’s love of racing, I thought it was a fitting way to start a race.
The race started pretty quickly. I was in the back and was soon stuck on the clogged set of first barriers. Racers literally had to wait their turn to dismount and carry their bike through the first set, which were set on a small uphill/downhill segment. I actually ran with my bike the entire way and immediately passed about 10 guys. Thankfully, the race started to spread out in the longer straightaways. A few of the MTB crew had set some tight, twisty turns on the backside of the course, which led to a few wipeouts and curses. Overall, the course was pretty quick and mostly on grass with just a few barriers and turns to break your momentum.
I was feeling great from a fitness perspective, but I was too dehydrated before the race and started to lose concentration on the barriers towards the end of the race. This proved problematic because I hadn’t practiced my mounts/dismounts very much. I can see where having practiced makes it more of a subconscious movement vs having to focus on it when you’re tired and thirsty.
I ended up finishing 48th. I had no idea what was happening at the front of the race, but XXX did pretty well. I had a few teammates around me during the race though. That’s one of the things I really like about CX is that you can be at the back of the pack, but still have your own little race with the people around you. Plus, you can moved up in the standings and start to pass people. This is a nice break from normal road races, where you’re really out of the race once if you get dropped from the pack.