The last two weeks were the best of times and the worst of times, but they were both good fun.
The Lake Ontario CX Race was held at a fantastic venue under great conditions. The race took place right on the edge of Lake Ontario in historic Fort Niagara, and we could see Toronto clearly across the water. The weather was cool and clear, and the course was an epic one, a true masterpiece of off camber sections and switchbacks. Pure European cyclocross kind of stuff. There was even a long beach section.
The turns and power sections really felt great, and despite a slight mechanical, I think that I had my best race of the season. I lost my rear wheel when I bounced the bike a little too hard after setting it down as a pile up in front of me forced me to run. I lost about twenty seconds fiddling with the quick release, but I had good legs to get somewhat back into the fray. I wish I would have got through clean, but that is how racing goes.
This race reminded me of how much I struggled two years ago with switchbacks and sharp turns. I realized afterward that I didn't give a second thought to these types of course features that caused me fits just two short years back. I even bunny-hopped the log each and every tine I came across it in the woods. Everything came together, and the eventual 6th place finish not only gave me my top 50% place, but it also gave me my highest USAC finish on or off the road. The field was small, but it was a great accomplishment for me. Thanks to John and Heather for the great day!
This weekend was the Varysburg 4H Camp CX Race, and despite being put on by some great folks, the event was a personal disappointment.
When I saw the muddy aftermath of the snow melt, I figured that this race would be a good one for me. I embrace the bad weather, as I feel it works to my advantage a little as someone who has a better engine than mountain bike skills. It makes everyone look bad, and that gives me confidence! LOL!
I just didn't have it though. The race started out at a snappy pace and I got caught up in a muddy mess that cause me to dismount way before everyone I was hoping to race. I fell back early, and I just never recovered after pushing to make the gap and failing.
On lap two, I was again trying hard to get back on, and I lost my rear wheel in the woods and went down. I'm still not sure what happened, but I slid down a little off camber section and hit the deck hard. Luckily, the mud made the impact a little more tolerable. I was covered in it!
As I continued to ride through the 5 or 6 inches of slop that covered almost the entire course, I couldn't help but wonder if we were completely destroying this nice little campsite. It was an agonizing 45 minutes of slop, and I felt like by the end I was starting to lose focus and just started to pray for it all to end. I was going through the motions.
But then I saw the final section, and there was finally a rider close by who was within striking range. I shouldered the bike and ran the final hill before the finish; a bunch of folks gave me a big cheer. I passed the other rider, and I realized it was an older gentlemen from the 60+ race! He had done an amazing job fighting us off the whole race... and I finished strong only to feel like kind of a dick for passing him like that. Oh well, maybe I am.
After a long shower on site (in my kit for most of it), I looked back on the long season behind. I had done ten races, double that of the last two years. I road with lots more confidence and had way fewer mishaps. I got my top 50% finish. Even though today's race at 4H seemed to stand for hell, hell, hell, and more hell... I felt proud for sticking to it and finishing out a solid campaign.
On Tuesday, I sent in my request and was consequently upgraded to Cat 4. The congratulations from my teammates and friends on Facebook really meant the world to me. I know I am not in this alone, and I am really looking forward to next year already. Now onto the off season, lots of dog walking, snowshoeing, hopefully some weights, and lots of trainer miles.