By far the biggest race of the year in Colorado. Over 700 entrants, 2,000 spectators, National Champions in attendance fighting it out for UCI Points, a $10,000 purse, and of course Halloween day antics. I wasn’t sure I could, but I found a good costume which wouldn’t hamper my performance, and was ecstatic to see the fan response when I arrived. Everyone had a smile on their face when they saw it.
The course had a fast paved section with a 180 degree turn, more pavement, a bump, then grass leading to the deadly offcamber switchback. You wouldn’t think grass could be as slick as ice, but I assure you, it was. I was glad to have borrowed a pair of tubulars for the race, as a few sections were only ridable with extreme caution (and slow speed) without the low pressure. The Vittoria Evo CX tires did not have quite enough knob to find purchase on the downtrodden grass in some sections.
I held my ground as the field blazed onto the grass and into the pinch (slip) point. I found myself where I intended to be: the upper, inside of the turn. I didn’t want to get caught in the dogpile at the bottom! Unfortunately, I was caught up in the excitement and crashed. I admit it. It was all my fault. I’m not sure if I over braked, was off the line, or simply going too fast, but before I knew it I was sliding across the grass and creating a dogpile of my own. This would have been bad enough, but as I was sliding I heard a distinct SNAP.
No my body, so no worries there, but as soon as I remounted, I found the damage. My left shifter was now dangling from the cables, mostly detached from the handlebar. I thought “Its ok, just no front shifter”. Then I tried to slow down on the next dicey downhill. Doh! No front brakes with a semi attached shifter! So off to the pit I went…
You may have heard my bash my old race bike, but now that I found myself upon it, exiting the pit as the last man on the course, I was about to recall every detail. Firstly, I will admit I had not fully intended on using it. I had my bald commuting tires on it. They are only 28c, and I had them at 45 PSI. That was probably the worst, but I also felt the extra four pounds every time I shouldered it. Have I mentioned the acceleration of the new bike? Now the old one felt like I was pedaling against a rubber band, but I was still getting rattled badly on the bumps. Did I mention I have Mr Tuffy’s in my bald tires for commuting?
It was a bad situation. I came in costume as a serious competitor. I did not want to be the zany guy off the back looking for drunk fans to holler at me. I tried hard to make up ground, but the competition is fierce at this level, and even at the back it is hard to make up a lot of ground. The fans lined the course sometimes a few deep at the barriers to keep them at bay, and the sound was at times deafening. I did feel a little bit better at one point when I heard someone remark “Wow, he really moved up”.
I have to give it to the fans who came it in great numbers and were all very happy to see an Elite racer in costume, even if I was dangling off the back and pulled barely past the halfway point in the race. The good news was there were still fans around watching the race, some of which gave me a beer for my efforts, which I consumed happily.