November 16, 2008 – Lansing, IL
Masters 30+ – 14th
I woke up for the Lansing CX race cold, but excited. With below-freezing temps, I didn’t want to get out of bed (who would). Damn. I was mad for missing last week’s race and I really wanted to race in the cold weather. Thankfully, I had packed the car the night before, so I just had to dress and hit the road for a short 30 minute trip south. OK, it’s time to race.
This was my first time on the Lansing course. I knew it was flat and had a nice deep sand pit. Registration was held in the community center across from the park. It was great to see a healing Brian Boyle helping work the registration table. Even with the crutches, he’s finding something bike-related to do.
I had about 45 minutes to warm-up and preview the course. On my preride, I could see that this was suited more for fitness than technical skills. Yeah! A course that finally suited me. My plan was to ride the first 15 minutes of the race relatively conservatively, than use my TT skills to see who I could pick off. At this point in the season, I’m doing CX for fun and it’s always neat racing against the same guys each week. Rivalaries tend to develop no matter where you are in the pack.
With the cold conditions, it wasn’t surprising that there were less than 20 guys in the Masters 30+ race. Things got out fast as usual, but I think everyone was a little stiff from the cold. I got into a good position and got a better feel for the course after 1-2 laps. I started to pick off a few guys and set my sights on several in front of me. Things were going well until about 4 laps left.
There was a section of 2 barriers about halfway through each lap. They were at the end of a flat, fairly straight section so riders would be coming in hot. These were easy earlier in the race, but became harder to judge later on once you began to tire. That’s exactly what happened to me. I had just hammered half a lap, passed a few guys, and misjudged my approach to the first barrier. I was ready to clip out, but was going to fast. Bam! I hit the wall at near full speed and slammed by knee and bike right into the barrier. Not a bad crash, but it hurt. I quickly remounted and took off. I was shaken, but more upset that ground on a pair Vedrigis and North Branch guys I was about to catch. My momentum was gone and had to regroup mentally. Plus, my chain had come off and it took me a few seconds to regroup my bike. My knee didn’t bother me much, but my hip was aching. I just had to remind myself to keep going.
Well, that’s better in theory than practice. My knee and hip started hurting more after a few minutes, but I had just a 3 more laps to go. A few of the Masters 40+ racers caught up to me and I tried to hang onto them. At this point, the 30+ guys I had been chasing had a bigger gap in front of me, but I still tried to close it. I kept waiting for the lead 30+ pack to lap me, but that didn’t happen to my last lap. Plus, I had been lapping other riders. Hey, something must be going right here. I did my best to hammer the last lap. When I finished, I was tired, but not completely spent. A good feeling, since I felt I had a decent race despite my crash. I ended up 14th and would have probably finished higher otherwise, but that’s all part of CX racing!
After my race I chatted with a few racers, then changed in the locker rooms at the community center. Dang, this was probably the best part of the whole race. How many times do we have warm facilities to use after a race? I then headed over to the sand pit to watch the mayhem. I saw just few guys pedal all the way through. I had found it easier to run, but that also requires more energy. The 3s race was exciting to watch, especially with the 50+ guys thrown in along with the open women’s field. Hopefully, I will upgrade to the 3s for the final couple of races.
When I got home, I had time to survery the damage from my crash. I had a nice bloody knee warmer and a good gash underneath. I’m always amazed at how bad you can scrape yourself underneath lycra without tearing it. I must have gone down dozens of times on the knees of my running tights in college, but they rarely ripped. Here’s a photo of my knee cleaned up. I had blood bubbling on the outside of the lycra, unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me so I could show you…:)
I also discovered white paint from the barrier on my fork. Whoa. It’s just like someone backing into your car and leaving paint marks. I guess I really did hit the barrier hard in my crash!
Finally, a big thanks to South Chicago Wheelmen for hosting the race and to all of the volunteers and officials for freezing their butts off, though still willing to make sure we had yet another stellar CX race in the Chicago area.