Giving myself the award for best dismount technique (leading into the stairs). Does no one else coast on their downtube?
School has started, temperatures have cooled (from the lower 100s to the upper 90s), and the fresh smell of glue is in the air. It's fall... soon!
With the coming change in weather means a change in tire size. 23mm slicks have been swapped on almost every wheel I own and replaced with treaded 32mm beasts. I've ruined a pair of shorts with Continental tubular glue and pulled the skinsuits out of the closet... it's time for some racing!
This year's season opener was held at Bent Creek Park, just outside of Asheville, NC. A glorious city nestled in the mountains (through which you're apparently not supposed to "swan") that has been referred to as "a nice oasis in the south". I like it there, but I'm afraid I'll catch the hippie-itis everytime I go.
Cycle-Smart fielded 3 men in the C race, myself, Steve "le belge" Noiret, and new 'crosser Warren Owens. I went into the race with high hopes. Like "planning my victory salute" high. Christy Blakely said I may need to respect the competition/sport more, I just think it's confidence.
The course was... interesting. Potentially better suited for 29'' wheels than 700c in some areas. There was some tight single track, a short gravel climb, some pump track, a set of stairs, fast dewy downhills, but unfortunately, no barriers.
I test rode the Grifo XS open tubulars in the morning, but with the moist off cambers and the roots in the woods, I opted for my tubular mix (a Fango front/Grifo rear), and prayed that I glued them well.
This may have been the best start I've ever had in a race- second going into the first corner... exactly what Alec Donahue and Shawn Adams taught us at camp. I was super stoked. After one or two turns, the kid (seriously-- kid) in front of me tangled himself up in the tape, and I bombed down the long descent in the lead and took the pack into the woods.
I looked over my shoulder once and saw that I had a small gap- nothing significant, but I was happy that there weren't 19 dudes on my back wheel waiting to run me over. I knew that when the trail opened up, someone was going to come around me. I planned for it, so that I could jump on their wheel. This was MY race, after all.
So the kid (seriously, KID) comes around me like a ROCKET. Ever watched a soccer game where the goalkeeper just points as the ball goes by him (I've done that), that was how I reacted. There was simply nothing I could do. Shortly, Belgian Steve came around me before the pump track. I figured we could ride together and lay the smackdown on these other fools. Naw, Steve did a 100 mile mountain bike race the week before... he's fit.
After a lap, a guy on a 29er was on my wheel. My goal was to keep him behind me before the single track, because I knew he'd ream me through the woods. That didn't work... there went my podium appearance.
So I rode on my own for a few laps. Over my shoulder I could see a group of three guys behind me. I fought to stay away from them until I knew it was a losing battle. I settled in behind the first guy (Daniel Jones, my nemesis from Greenville). He and I have always been fairly evenly matched, but I hope he never gets a real 'cross bike, because then he'll have power and handling to beat me with.
I rode his wheel until the last lap. Waited until the last few corners to try to make a move, but he had me covered every time. I waited too late, and followed him in for 5th place.
So, weekend one is in the books! I'm not satisfied, but I'm not unhappy with the way it went. It's obvious that Steve is WAY stronger than I am, so I'm not going to be unhappy if I'm in a situation where I help him win the next race. I've always fancied myself a Renshaw, not a Cavendish.
I was super happy for Warren (not for his rolled tire). He rode and finished his first race with crappy tires, and probably entertained quite a few people sliding around wildly. All without any sort of emotional incident. That's more than I can say for myself.
Also great to see Christy, of Cycle-Smart Grass Roots fame, she's good company, even though she double spaces her periods. Myles and Lindsay were great travel partners and Aaron Casey was also in attendance, but he still owes me beer. Next time, dude!
I got a little emotional last night when I had to shut down my computer before the start of Cross Vegas. It's here! It's really cyclo-cross season! Results will be good this year. Categories will be upgraded. Maidens will be saved. Evil-doers vanquished. All in the name of cyclo-cross.