The Rochester CX race was an experience. I was excited to race in Rochester as part of a huge weekend that saw lots of hockey and fun in between. Ever since going to watch 2016, I had wanted to return to Rochester and watch the UCI event in person again. This year, I figured I would give racing it a shot.
In this, the 7th race I have lined up for, I have never seen the technical challenges in a course like this one before. (See the CXHairs video at the end of this post to see the course for yourself).
I arrived and got my bib number, and it was 716, our area code. Would this be a lucky number or an omen? Well, it turned out to be a preview that I should have probably stayed back in my own area code where it was safe. LOL.
It was an unseasonably cool day at the race, and I previewed the course in my team jacket. I cut onto the course right where all the technical chicanes and log sections were. I bit it on a log after I missed bunnyhopping it. I must have thought I was on the mountain bike, and I clearly wasn't. I left the preview with two distinct thoughts: first, this course was 80 percent easy as pie and 20 percent impending death. Second, how do I get out of it?
I rode over to the Campus Wheelworks' tent to see the gang and heard Ethan say, "Bob, why are you so dirty?" Yep, I was covered in dirt head to toe. I laughed and kinda forgot about all the anxiety I was having. As the time counted down, my fears returned, and I seriously thought again and again about bailing. But I didn't, and that was my win for the day.
I went to the line and was called up into the second row, most likely due to the six previous starts and not the results. I started slow and steady and remained in the pack. Once we entered the woods, I lost my grip on the quick righthand off camber section, and I went down like a ton of bricks. I struggled from that point on, as I really took the fall hard on my hip. It became hard to remount and swing the right leg over the bike, but I grinned and just embraced the pain.
Lots of the technical sections were just beyond me, so I rode or ran them conservatively, and I tried to just simply hold off the riders behind me on the sections I could ride hard. I ran a lot of the log overs and really crazy stuff. All in all, the couple of guys behind me were way behind me, so it made little difference. It did however mean that I had no chance of catching those ahead. But, I didn't get lapped and that was a nice consolation prize.
On my last lap of the short 30 minute race, I was crossing under the bridge right in the heart of the technical section. I had the bike shouldered and was running a tricky section. However, as I found out, memorizing the course is an important skill. I realized that I was in the wrong section. There was only a flat section ahead, and I had the bike up and was running like hell. From above, I could hear my buddy loud and clear, the same one who heckled me for being so dirty prerace. "Woohoo, the running man!"
They call me the running man, I guess that's what I am.