This is my 4th season racing cyclocross, and ever since I started there was a mystique and draw to attend the 3 day Jingle Cross event. This year, Maggie was finishing her family medicine rotation on wednesday and beginning her medicine rotation on monday, which gave her the first break >2days since early June. So, we decided to make it a family trip and give it a shot.
The drive was all good with appropriate distractions. Here is a chocolate croissant taking a long time to eat:
The atmosphere of the race is really awesome. I hope to attend again next year for sure. The weather made things pretty intense in terms of racing, but offered some very challenging conditions to continue improving on the cross skills.
In terms of a full race report, the last few weeks have been such a blur that it is hard to keep friday/saturday/sunday straight in my head.
The one thing to say before I attempt a race report, is that I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to pick-up (in the form of purchasing) the coveted new ultegra ui2 groupo. Walt's bike shop really hooked it up and over the last few year's has been incredibly supportive in my families bicycle related endeavors. After last weekend's problems with my Shorty Ultimate's, I also switched my brakes and put the pit bike's CX70s on my 'A' bike and the shorty's on the pit bike. So, I had new digs for the race. And also some crazy conditions to try them out.
Friday night: Mid to low 50s and clear. But the ascent of Mt Krummpet was a long and brutal run-up that I was only able to ride 1x during warm-ups and not at all during the race. I had a great start and found myself around 10th for the 2 laps. I was definitely near my limit, but confident I could hang in the group of 5-or-so riders. On lap 3 someone botched an off camber section and I flew into the tape. From there I was chasing, and simply didn't have the fitness to close the gap. From there on out, it was riding in no-man's land or with one other guy. I came across the line in 18th and was pleased with a top-20 in a UCI race. The next couple of hours were spent trying to wind Cassidy down, who was almost literally bouncing-off-the-walls when we got back to the hotel. Tonight (sunday evening, back in Columbia) we asked her what her 'happy thought' is about the day when we were tucking her in bed and she replied, 'bike racing at the night race'! The Ui2 stopped shifting towards the end. I guess it thought I crashed and went into crash mode, even though I didn't and actually managed to ride a very clean race. A mechanic who used to work for Garmin helped me out and had it functioning flawlessly for day 2.
Saturday: Rain. Mid to low 40s. Mud. Slop. Dead-last starting position. I suck in the mud and want to get better. This was a good opportunity. But I still got lapped by Todd Wells and pulled, and finished a disappointing 23rd out of 24 finishers and 28 starters. Shifting and brakes were amazing, no problems at all. The only bad thing about the day was that my glasses got so covered in mud that I decided to ditch them in the pits. Considering I'm extremely near-sighted, that was pretty dumb. I couldn't see much and literally was asking spectators and Brett Heuring in the pits how close Well's was to lapping me (since I couldn't see).
All smiles after the race:
Sunday: Cold and windy. Low to upper 30s and 15mph winds. Long story short, I had a great start and was riding within the top 15 or so, right on Ben Berden's wheel (who respectively had a lousy start). By lap 2 I settled into a comfortable pace and was riding with Steve Tilford. We were probably around 16th or 17th. He led some sections and I led others. We both talked a bit and clearly weren't gassing ourselves. I was pretty excited with around 3 or 4 to go, until when I was going through a grinding soupy 180 turn, I heard a loud snap and my pedals locked up. I looked down and in horror saw that the rear derailleur had snapped off at it's mounting bolt. Strangely the hanger and bolt were fine, the derailleur seems to have just broken. I was right by the pits and basically walked in and then just stood there dumbfounded. I didn't have anyone helping me in the pits, so I hesitated to even go find my pit bike and continue. After a minute or so, I finally jumped on bike 2 and started riding again. The rest of the race was with Andrew Coe which was nice to see a familiar face and also someone of pretty similar skill/fitness level.
Anyway, it was painful to clean up my bike and assess the damage.
Then on the way home, we pulled off the highway after about an hour to get some dinner and a deer ran out in front of our car. I slammed on the brakes and swerved and managed to hit it on the left front fender. At first I couldn't open or close the driver's side door, but Maggie popped the sheet metal back with a screw driver and from what we can tell, there is minimal damage.
Wow. What a weekend.