It's been a while since I've posted a race report on here. Since I've been filming most of my races, the need to chronical the events hasn't been so important. The first two events of the Ruts and Guts weekend were in the dark, so I didn't have my camera mounted. I probably should have had it running the third day, but I didn't take the 5 minutes to install it again.
As a quick recap, this is pretty much my first season racing cross, aside from a few events on my road bike in previous seasons. This is definitely the first season I've trained for cross and actually practiced some of the technical aspects involved. My debut race of the season (OC Criss Cross) went pretty well with a 3rd place finish in the Cat3 race. I think second place could have been possible, but poor start and a crash about half-way through the race cost me some time and energy, so third was the best I could muster. Judson designed a great course. We were out there with Sarah, Terry, and Brian Fairless for most of the day Friday getting it ready to go. It is amazing how much caution tape it takes to line a 1.5 mile CX course.
The following weekend at the Rivercross was a completely different (and humbling) experience. I had another poor start. I was able to get back a few positions, but I just didn't have what it took that day. I felt pretty good riding the technical sections, but I was having an awful time on the long climb and long straightaway. It was completely backwards from what I expected. I thought I would be able to hurt some people on the climb, but I struggled on it every lap. I caught Tony Steward, who was in 6th place; but I blew up shortly after and he rode away. On the final lap, Kaleb Nimz, who had a broken shoe, flew by me on the climb like I was standing still. There was no way I could have matched his speed. I was lapping a rider about that same time and managed to pinch flat my rear clincher tire as I hopped back onto the concrete spillway. I was a pretty good distance from the pit and rode in on the flat. Cameron Buswell came by me just after the barriers, and he was long gone by the time I got hopped on my pit bike (Sarah's bike).
I didn't realize it at the time, but Corey White was catching me fast. For the first time of this race, I decided to run the sand pit instead of riding it, and he passed me as I was mounting. On the second to last corner I took the inside line and was able to get around him. We got to battle it out in a fun sprint for 9th, and I barely got him. It was nice to be able to end the race with a good battle, especially since the rest of the day didn't go as I hoped.
I was pretty nervous going into Ruts N Guts. Was my 3rd place at OC Criss Cross beginners luck? Was my less-than-stellar performance at the Rivercross just a fluke? I changed a few things in my training the week between Rivercross and Ruts. I started some gym workouts a few weeks ago, but I think it negatively impacted my ability to ride right now. I'll postpone that to my true off-season. I also rode my bike a little more than I did the previous week so I wouldn't feel stale on race day. On top of all that, I practiced some starts since that has been my one obvious weakness. I watched the first 30 seconds of the past two races on video to figure out what I could have done better.