Sunday, October 1, 2006

Month of Mud - Grove City

Time: 47:42 (3 laps) 16th place in beginner class

Drove up to Grove City and parked. It was rather cold and wet, but it is called the Month of Mud. Signed in, and having never done a cyclocross rode around the course a bit and watched the experts' race. First thing I noticed was that most people had what looked like road bikes, but with slightly bigger tires and odd looking handlebars. The race looked like a road race, but then they turned in to the woods where suddenly there were some boards in the way. They dismounted, picked up their bikes, quickly ran over the 2 sets of boards and smoothly mounted their bikes and took off racing again. As I would soon find out, it was not as easy as it looked.

Met up with Joe B., we rode around a bit to warm up, and then the race was to begin. I was racing beginner, Joe racing sport - but they started both of our classes together. I started near the back of the pack since I had never done this type of race before, and unfortunately remained there quite a while. The race starts down a road and after a couple hundred yards takes a hard right into the woods. This is where the boards were set up. I dismounted smoothly enough, got over the boards somewhat quickly, and then jumped back on my bike. Unluckily I was not as smooth as the expert class as I promptly crushed all kinds of sensitive areas of my anatomy. Then my foot missed the pedal, so all of my weight stayed on the saddle, ouch. I guess there is a method to remount the bike quickly and smoothly - I have yet to find it.

Through the woods and onto some baseball fields. The trail followed along the outfield areas and a quick right into "ditch" with some more of the boards. I was able to pass some people here as some tried to ride the ditch and ended up eating some mud. Trail continued around the ballfields, down a gravel road, and back into the woods. Passed some people in the woods as it was really muddy and the cyclocross bikes were not really made for muddy, rocky trails. Back on to the road and up some small hills to finish lap one.

We were told that it was a four lap race, but if someone lapped you, you would be done at the end of that lap. So lap one was done, I was a bit tired and decided to pace myself so that I would be able to go all out on the last lap. The second lap went smoothly but passed only two people, and a bunch passed me - experts I was hoping.

Third lap was tiring, but I felt pretty good, saving energy for the last lap. On this lap Joe and the guy he was racing from the sport division passed by me on their fourth lap. I stayed with them for a little bit which helped me with my pacing.

I finished the third lap, and was ready to give it my all. That's when the race coordinator told me I was done and was to pull over. I found a guy I had raced with in other races and asked him if the race guys had made a mistake. Nope. We were lapped - but by a sport rider. I had assumed that if a beginner racer passed me that's when I would be done, but they said if any beginner or sport rider lapped us.

Well, I learned a lot and know that next year I will have to ride all out for the first three laps and if no one laps me I can slow down the fourth lap if needed. Ah well, live and learn.

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