Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Crosscheck sees it's first cross race

With it's 2nd birthday coming up in January, my Crosscheck was starting to feel inadequate and slightly ripped off. This is understandable since it was purchased as a road bike/do-all bike/cross bike/gravel grinder bike yet in almost 2 years it had yet to see any cyclocross action. It would patiently hang in the workshop as it's owner would go to cross races and heckle the other racers while enjoying delicious beer. It was starting to become too much for the little bloke so the time had come and the Cross the Way race at the Goat Farm was just the place for it's introduction.

Fate would have it that the race was on Halloween and also the weather conditions were perfect for a cyclocross race; cold, wet and muddy. I showed up early to give myself some time to register and also to practice my dismounts and remounts. I was a cross virgin and didn't want to make a fool of myself (too badly) by tripping up in my bike. Lots of other people took the initiative to come dressed up which was fun. I didn't have a great costume idea and knowing how wet it would most likely be, I opted to just rock the normal Yazoo attire and represent the few of us left racing under Yazoo.

Superhero Graham

I pre-rode the course to get familiar with any crazy stuff which was a great idea but also a bad idea. The course was hard and seemed very long. The grass was high, and almost the entire course was wet. I was even having trouble with traction on the smallest of climbs. I did thankfully get to see the Run Up Of Death, which ended up being harder in the pre-ride than the race since someone took the time to cut in some steps with a shovel right before the race started. By the time I finally made it around the full lap some of my friends had shown up. Thad (dressed as a crazy losing Canadian,) and Mike (my fellow Yazoo supporter), were there to suffer with me along with Jeremy (THE Fondoadie who's beating Thad) and his wife, Jeanie (Cop supporter) and many other of the usual suspects.

Do we get free beer?

I thought I may get a little slack for signing up for the Cat4 race but I figured since it was my first true cross race, that was where I belonged. I felt better when Mike said he was racing Cat4 and not singlespeed but also when I lined up and saw the 26 other guys I was comforted by my choice. Yet I was also thinking, crap, most of these guys mean business. Then we were off and sprinting down the gravel road with no warm-up. It was time to start the 30 minutes of "I think I may throw up" riding. The course had been chewed up a lot since my pre ride an hour earlier and the mud bogs were bigger. I was joking on the line that it would be a 2 lap race and halfway through my first lap I was half hoping for a shorter race and yet still hoping I could squeak out 3 laps. The first half of the course was tough with some soggy false flat sections and two no-so-steep-but-kinda-long climbs. With my heart pumping in my throat and my rear tire barely connecting with anything, I dismounted and tried to run up the climbs. It ended up being more of a fast walk, but I was holding my place. It was the classic dilemma of should I walk or granny gear it up and both were the same speed.

My idea of jumping off the couch to enter my first ever cross race wasn't the best I'd ever had. My body does better with the longer races were I can fall into my pace. This was nothing of that sort. The Run Up Of Death was easier with the steps they cut in and I was getting the hang of jumping back on the saddle without having to stop or jamming up the boys. After a grunt climb we started into the second half of the lap and the part I enjoyed much more. We rode through a barn and into the twisties and then over some barriers. This was where I was able to make a some ground but I couldn't ever catch up with Mike who was 2 guys in front of me. It seemed I was just a head of a racer who was slow to remount so I was able to stay a head of him yet I didn't have any advantage over Mike so I just help my place the race.

The second lap was pretty uneventful and similar to the first lap. I didn't pass anyone and no one passed me. I got the hang of the barriers better but as I rode through the finish line I got the "your done" sign. I was slightly annoyed (at myself) that I only got to ride 2 laps for my $30 but it was a great intro to cyclocross and like many races, hanging out after my race for just as much fun. The race was very well run and they sprung for a keg of Yazoo Dos Perros which made it easy to forget the pain of racing the course. I stuck around and watched all the other races and shot a bunch of photos of the Masters 35+ and the singlespeed race. My trusty Crosscheck performed great for me. My new handlebars that I just got from Harpeth Bicycles were also great. I found them way more comfortable than my old Salsa Bell Lap bars and I had more power while standing, though in the mud I couldn't actually use this new power.

MUD! Many comments were made about Dirt Sweat & Gears, wonder why

I'm looking forward to the next Cross The Way race which is going to be held on the peninsula at Lock4. The Uphill Grind crew know how to plan a great event!!

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

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