Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Month of Mud - Grove City

Grove City cyclocross - 15th - Masters - :58.45

And then it rained some more. That was the theme for Grove City. Rain, rain, and more rain. Pulled into the parking lot and got dressed for the rain, but at least it was cold.

Did a short warm up and then went and watched the experts finish their race. They were covered with mud, front and back. Soon enough we were lining up for our race. The rain had pretty much stopped, but I was pretty sure the mud would still be there.

The prologue lap was on slick pavement, and I decided to line up toward the back and play it safe. Unfortunately this was a bad strategy. There were no pile ups, so I was about midpack once we hit dirt and the first barriers.

I passed a lot of people as we moved on to the mountain bike friendly section of the course. We were then dumped on to the grass section, and a number of cross bikes caught me. Steady through the rest of the grass section, then on to the pavement and back to the start line. I was able to draft here, so I stayed with the pack. One lap down, three to go, hopefully.

Fourth lap - whew, I barely made it. As I crossed the finish line for my last lap, I saw the judges getting ready to pull people over for being lapped. Did my last lap, and caught and gapped a rider I had been battling with for two laps. I always need that kind of competition to keep my pace up. I also was able to work with another rider quite a bit. I could tell he wasn't in my division, so when he was sitting on my wheel for a lap it didn't really bother me. But when I dropped behind my "nemesis" I used the guy on my wheel. Once we hit the pavement I pulled to the side and let him use his higher gears on his cross bike to up our pace a bit. I then took back over when we hit the rough stuff. On the grassy sections, we took turns as needed. I'm not sure I really drafted except for the pavement area, but mentally swapping helped me keep up my pace.

The mountain bike was good for about one fifth of the course, but the cross bikes were just faster the rest of the race. Though I find it hard to rationalize buying a cross bike for two races a year, but I really wish I had had one.

It was a good race, muddy like cross should be. To be more competitive I need a cross bike next year. I also needed to be more up front at the start, as I was only about a minute behind three races, and that back of the pack start cost me at least that much time. But still, the race was fun. A one week break, and then the North Park time trial.

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