Times flies. Maggie left for work early monday morning and texted me around 7:45 asking me to bring some chain lube and a water bottle so she can ride after work (after 2 weekends of 2 day racing!). I think the conversion is near completion...she's a bike geek.
Racing is serving as a wonderful distraction this fall. I've been riding more than I have any other fall and given this amazing weather, it has really felt great. I've tried to do one day of hard riding during the week (usually Wednesday) then just ride for run, peace-of-mind, etc on other days.
This past weekend was Bubba #4 and 5 CX races at Creve Coeur lake park in St Louis. Racing there is particularly meaningful for me because a good friend of mine, who I've written about before, Jason Brightfield, helped organize a cancer charity walk there a few years ago (about 1.5 years before he died). I think of Jason a lot and although I'm not a believer in an afterlife, sometimes I catch myself having a 'mental cigarette' with him. Anyway, those thoughts set the stage for a weekend of racing that ended up being a ton of fun.
Saturday night was weird. Besides the 10pm start, which is at least an hour after my bedtime, I somehow found myself chasing an ex-local named Sam off the start line at a start pace which was both silly and atypical for bubba races. I found myself off the front pretty early and decided not to race smart but to race hard...so I gave it a go for a few laps, knowing that the inevitable swallow would come. Looking back, I don't regret it at all. After a few laps, I got caught and settled into the group to recover. I was feeling OK and still smooth on the bike but responded too aggressively after Jay rode past me in the sand. I tried to match his pace and I bobbled the little berm run-up exiting the sand pit. Somehow I managed to endo and bend my brake cable over itself in my front canti. It took a minute to get going again and even then I couldn't seem to get rid of the rubbing. I chased for the next few laps and came across the line in 6th, tired but satisfied.
Maggie raced great and will probably start her own racing blog soon with a huge list of sponsors ;) It was cool to see so many women come out to race. Given the somewhat more meager A-race turnout, it is good to see signs of growth in cyclocross. I think it is funny I've only been doing this 3 years and I'm already blabbing about growing the sport...I guess I've never really been pulled into something like cross before. I've had passions in the past, even obsessions, but I don't think I've ever loved an activity as much as I do cyclocross. With that said, I'm excited to say that Maggie hooked up some plane tickets for Bend this December and we'll be joining our good friend's Matt and Lizz James on a weekend adventure to cross nats! Matt was even able to arrange for us to borrow some Specialized demo bikes for the weekend so as to avoid the hassle of packing and traveling bikes! Part of me wants to make a training plan for the next few weeks...but I'd rather just keep doing what I'm doing and just see how it all goes.
Sunday's race went well. I felt tired and sore while getting ready and thought I was barely holding on for the first few laps in the lead group. Jay and out-of-town Sam were doing all the work and setting a solid pace. With about 5 to go (right after getting caught on video picking my nose), Jeff had been pulling for a solid lap and I came around to pull on a bumpy section with a headwind. My intention wasn't to attack at that point, but I ended up gapping Jeff and bringing Jay up with me. I slowed a bit so as to work with them but Jay yelled to keep the pace high. Next thing I knew, I was by myself with I think 4 to go. Cruise control was on until I saw Schottler chasing me down. At each of the 180 turns, Josh was close enough to us that I could hear him yelling commands to Schottler. It was pretty awesome. I tried to make it hard on Jon, but he inevitably passed me and I kept the chase up over the last few laps to finish 2nd. Even though the field isn't as deep as last year, the top 6 or 7 racers are definitely each stronger and makes for a lot of fun.