Another annual favorite Boulder Racing venue. Whats not to love about tearing up the immaculately manicured turf at the Interlocken office park? (Author’s note: I was thinking about linking to the office park website in the above sentence, so I went looking for it. In fact, the website is so hilariously outdated (especially for a high tech office park which includes a 2200 employee Sun Microsystems campus) that I will provide the in a different context). The course featured wall to wall carpeting (grass), a double sand pit, two gnarly run-ups, announcer, free beer, the works!
I had a bit of a rough race last time out. I started a bit too hard, got tired and then crashed. A lot of enjoyment in cyclocross for me is riding my bike as fast as possible, so I crash frequently. This may not be the best race tactic, however. Even though I may save a little time in a few corners, a crash will slow you down just as much, with the risk of slowing you down even more due to injury or mechanical problem.
My decision to start more slowly was made for me, as the field was large and I did not have a call up. I started on the very back row, and since I was not as focused due to my fourth row position, I missed my pedal when the whistle blew. I found some pictures online, and by the first run up I was in 42nd place out of 62 starters.
There is something to be said for trying new things, as I have never started a race this way. I have had back row starts, but I have always slaughtered myself to get right near the front, but today I just made passes as they came along, and occasionally just sat in for a moment. By the second lap I had moved up to 21st, and from the riders around me, I knew I was with racers who I expect to finish near.
I had a little excitement around this time when I was drafting closely on a fast sidewalk section over a narrow wet bridge, which was quickly followed by a corner. The rider in front of me slid out on the corner and was sprawled sliding across the sidewalk. With nowhere to go, I managed to stay upright around the same slippery corner, and come to a stop with my front tire resting neatly on his shin. I was also passed by a group of four riders.
I think I am coming to terms with two things in regards to pacing. When I raced Cat 3, many of the same racers would show up day after day, and the fields were similarly matched. Racing the Open class, some races are much faster than others when the field is strong. I need to learn to pace myself relative to the riders I expect to finish near, rather than the place I expect to finish in. Also, the race is 33% longer, at 60 minutes instead of 45. This means a more measured approach is helpful since the final 15 minutes are tough, but the field is well strung out, so passing is quite easy if you have the gas left in the tank.
My pacing was much better, and I was steadily passing all the way to the finish line. I also never crashed. The new bike did very well and I feel as comfortable (if not more) than on my old bike which I rode for eight years. I will have an early, thorough review coming soon.
Overall I feel really good about the race. I finished well (top 1/4) of the largest race so far this year. Tomorrow should have a smaller field, with the drive time (2+ hours), and the fields also seem to be smaller if there are two races on a weekend when one is much more popular (Today’s race). I may have a shot a couple upgrade points. I missed a race two weeks ago, and from looking at the results of the smaller field, I think I could have grabbed a couple, so I know I can do it.
It will also be another test for the tubeless, as today’s course was easy on them, with all the grass, and only a few bumps or pinch points. Tomorrow looks to be gravelly, and I spoke to a friend who had gravel lodge along the bead of his tubeless tire, allowing air to escape at the BV course last year.