Monson CX Race Report 2013
Preseason CX? Why sure!
I know a lot of of people think that August is too soon for cyclocross, but you wouldn’t have guessed it from the Monson Cyclocross Race held on Saturday August 24, 2013.
The women’s field had 33 riders on the start line, more than double than the previous year of 15. Ground surge in cyclocross? Check. Ground surge in women’s participation? Check. Breaking out the Women’s Cat 3/4s from the Elite field next year? I’d bet on it.
I arrived wayyyyyy earlier than I should have. I had a lot of time to kill, and did so pre-riding the course 3 times. It was a beautiful day, clear and sunny with temperatures in the mid eighties. The sun was HOT. The course was dry and dusty, and mountain-bikey. There was a fun rocky downhill, a run up with two fallen trees to hurdle at the crest, and a set of 4 barriers. There were hairpin turns that would end with a sharp incline, forcing riders to grind uphill after slowing for the turn, often through 2-3 inches of soft, fine, dusty dirt or sand. The women were the last race of the day, which means the course was torn up from all the previous racers. It was brutal. But manageable.
We lined up and received instructions. I was in the second line and picked a position behind a fast looking woman. When we started, she was away and I followed. I stumbled getting into the clips but recovered enough to jump on to the end of the lead 1/3 of riders. The hole shot was where the pavement ended and the first uphill began, a dicey sloped hill that required minimum climbing but across a slope. The earth was destroyed by previous racers. There were few decent lines. As we entered the hole shot, I heard a crash and a woman yelled “Oh my God are you alright?” That happened right behind me. I was clear of the danger and safely at the rear of the front field.
Riders spaced out pretty widely from the start, however. I passed one woman running her bike through the course, presumably with a flat tire. I had heard through the grapevine that the men had flatted often and trashed a few wheels as well (neutral support was not pleased). I chased a few women and passed one on the 2nd lap. She trailed me for the next 2 and then eventually caught me. A few others caught me too. By the 3rd lap my mouth felt like sticky film coated in dust. I needed water badly, and got a Gatorade hand-up on the 4th lap. I drank half the bottle before tossing it aside and pushing on. The last lap my performance had radically decreased–I was completely gassed. According to my Strava stats, my lap times went down by 2 whole minutes–horrible. We did 5 laps in total.
Unofficially (still waiting for official results at Crossresults.com as of this writing) I finished 18th of 33 starters. Only 26 finished. I did not get lapped (I don’t think I did anyway) and I lapped at least one woman. Considering there were Cat 1-2-3’in the field, I think I did pretty well. Not quite the 50% finish I wanted but firmly the middle of the initial pack. For a first race of 2013, I was overall happy with the effort and the result.
But of course I’m going to Monday Morning Quarterback a bit. To improve upon:
- Speed performance and endurance in the last 15 minutes of a 40-45 minute effort.
- No more than 2 laps on the pre-ride
- If there is a water/Gatorade hand-up allowed–plan for it and take it. Mine was too late in the game and improvised (thankfully my significant other was johnny on the spot with the hand-up when I asked for it).
- And a side note***I would have never been able to ride up those hairpin-turn-and-ascend-through-3-inches-of-dust with my old bike, the Specialized Tricross Sport. The Kona was light enough to take me through these tough spots.
I didn’t race the Sunday race at Blunt Park in Springfield. I’m ok with that choice. I had a great recovery ride this morning on another glorious day and relaxed a bit before starting another work week. I may not get to race again until September 21. I might try for an earlier one but my personal schedule is questionable, so we’ll see.
All and all it was a good start to what I hope to be a great season!