Sunday, September 30, 2007

Month of Mud - Grove City

8th place masters - 4 laps at 47.42

Last year Grove City was my first attempt at a cyclocross. Didn't go very well, here's a hint, a heavy full-suspension bike does not make a good cyclocross bike. Last year I did three laps in 45 minutes, was lapped by a sport rider and had to end my race there.

This year, I hoped that the 29er would be a much better bike. Got to Grove City early and had a really good warmup. The course was pretty much the same as last year, but it was being run backwards. We all lined up on the pavement start, and off we went. I couldn't stick with the front of the pack, as most of them were road riders and I just don't have that burst that's needed.

Did a prologue lap then we started the course. Very quickly we get to a double barrier. The Mammoth race really helped my technique, and I felt I got through the barriers pretty quickly. The course then heads downhill, takes a sharp right into a root-filled trail, then gravel road, and then some mini-singletrack with a sharp hill or two and some mud.

This section is where I did my best. Every lap I would catch several cyclocross riders. The sharp turns through the roots were no problem for the dos salsa. The gearing was perfect for the short sharp hills, as were the tires. I also held my own in the baseball field part of the course. I was able to really take the turns quickly.

But on any firm straightaway, the cyclocross bikes were geared such that I couldn't stick with them.

Anyway, on the first lap this guy who appeared to be in my class decided to shoulder me off the course. I'm not sure why as we weren't battling for first place or anything. I shouted some clever sarcastic remark to him, and then quickly passed him after a few turns.

Somewhere along the way, he passed me. I don't really remember when. At the end of the second lap, I decided I wouldn't let him finish before me. I really picked up the pace to see if I could track him down. After about half a lap, I saw him. Slowly started to reel him in on the "off road" sections. At one point on a steep dirt hill, I passed him on the third lap. I kept ahead of him for a bit until we got to the flat straight sections, and he would get ahead of me.

Fourth and final lap. He pulls ahead of me on the paved road section, but again I am right on his tail on the technical section. The race ends on the paved road, and he pulls ahead a bit. I finished probably less than five seconds behind him. We talk at the end, congratulate each other, and I find out he wasn't even in my class. Ah well, it did motivate me though.

The good news: I wasn't lapped this year. I did four laps this year in the time I did three laps last year!

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