Thursday, November 25, 2010

Washington Cyclocross State Championships 11/20 and Seattle CX series, Sprinker Center 11/21

This was a my weekend debut into cyclocross(CX). After listening to
friends talk about it and watching several races (and finally having
the funds to buy a new road-ish bike) I figured what the hell, I'd
give it a try. Catagorys are a bit different from mountainbiking in
that everyone starts in Cat4 and even that is broken up by age. Points
garnered thru the series and wins allow for moving up to a higher
ranking. (It's a roadie system, little understood by wood rats like
The goal was simply to ride and not get passed or dropped, and finish.
Goal accomplished.

The WA State Championship is a decieving title. I at first thought it
would be a run out for the points leaders. Wrong. Its a non series
race, still fledgling in the making and whomever wins each catagory is
the state champion.
Don't let it fool you, these folks want to win and go all out. I got
to the State Championship held at Steilacoom park really early,
temperatures in the mid to high 30's, thinking I had a 915 start time
and wanting to ride the new bike at least a 2nd time before a race. I
ran into Bob and Sarah right off the bat and after signing into
followed them around on a warm up lap. Turns out my race wasnt to
start till 1015 so I had time to take some pictures and watch Bob and
Andy race. Standing at the end of the straightaway leading into the
first corner and watching 30+ riders hammer in for the hole shot, all
I could think of was 'holy shit!'. Amazingly enough even though it
was a transition from pavement to muddy grass on a sweeping right, no
one bit the dust.
Before long it was my turn to race. The temperature dropped a bit and
the wind was kicking up, standing at the start line waiting I was
freezing! At the whistle the Cat4 masters 45+ took off, with me
trying to hold on to the pack.
I lost the pack before we were even out of the 1st field. I figured
just keep going, maybe everyones adenalin would run out and I would
catch someone, anyone... About 1/2 into the 1st lap of 3 I was headed
up the hill to the low barriers, time to dismount, leap and remount on
a hill. Instead of trying to remount uphill I ran to the top and
remounted on a bit more level ground, I also caught up to someone in
my group, cool, I might not be last!
The course wound thru fields, back fand forth thru the grass and then
up a hill for about 1/2mile, then desended down to a really nice spot,
a S turn section under some oak trees. This leads out to another hill
with soft gravel near the top, soft gravel on skinny tires! From
there the course goes downhill thru some nice corners, slightly bermed
and then back to the flats and another set up barriers, taller than
the 1st set.
Having never done running dismounts, it took a bit of concentration
but I was able to get thru and even passed a rider while going over.
Of course she immediately passed me a again and I was back to the
chasing the back of the 45+ riders.
By the top of the climb on the last lap I was spent, after only
30mins! I managed a final push to the finish line and crossed it
without passing out, about 15 secs or so behind the rider I had been
chasing. Last place, 11th, but not lapped and after a min I was able
to breathe and speak again. Holy crap!! Yeah, lets do that again!!
And so I did.
Sprinker Rec Center the next day, Sunday, was even colder and spitting
snow. I got there and signed in a bit too late to practice before the
Cat4 and Cat4 35+ so had to wait it out and get out for a practice lap
after they had finished.
This Seattle CX race was even better attended. There were over 45
riders just in my class! Cat4 mens and womens masters and Cat3 womens
SS all starting about 30 secs apart. There had to be well over 125
rides out for the 1015 start.
Juniors led off followed by 45+ men. This course starts off with a
very short straight and right into the trees and turns. It took almost
1/2 a lap to get spread out. This race would be 4 laps, 2 barrier
areas and a sand runup and a grassy mud run up (with a barrier at the
bottom). I did fairly well I thought, even passed a couple riders
both young and old. The off camber dismount into the sand hill thru me
off and I could just not get the hand of the running dismount there.
But I could and did run in the sand!
The race was a blast, many folks I knew were on sidelines yelling
encouragement and crowd was awesome. Tired and sore and 41 mins later
I crossed the finish line with a final sprint. I found out a couple
days later I was not last, finishing 37th with 1 guy behind me only
completing 3 laps and about a 1/2 dozen who didnt finish (or maybe
didnt start?).
Wandering around the parking lot after putting on some warm clothes,
Bob's Red Mill was there with some hot oatmeal and some friends were
getting ready to start the Cat1/2 race. It was too cold to stick
around and I was beat. 2 races in 2 days!
It was awesome! I'll be back to try again.


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