Cheshire CX 2014 Race Report
I’ve always really liked the course at Cheshire. There’s a lot of woods time, and enough off the bike action to keep anyone happy. But yesterday, I had a less than stellar performance at Cheshire CX.
They started the women together with the Pro-3’s staged first, and the 3/4s behind them, to start a minute later. I just barely got a position on the front row, seeded 8th of the 16 who pre-registered. My start was decent enough for the first 100 feet, but after the first turn the next straightaway before entering the woods left me quite in the dust. I gulped the cold air in (about 38 degrees) and my lungs seized before the first run-up. I spent the next 2 laps not riding, but drowning. I don’t mean to be gross, but the cold was such a shock to my lungs they filled with fluid. I could not clear it fast enough. This has happened before at this race–it’s just that time of year and my lungs froze up.
The trails were much harder packed than I remembered–they almost seemed groomed to me. I moved through the woods alright–not as fast as I would have liked but the technical sections were fine. I finally reached the 80 meter hill, AKA Heckler’s Hill, AKA “The People’s Hill,” I think I heard it referred to a few other nicknames. The first 2 times up I was DYING. There was a person dressed as a cross between a teddy bear and Chewbacca, (or maybe an Ewok?) and I thought I saw the Easter Bunny… but I had my head down for most of it as I was off the bike and pushing upward. Drums beat loudly. Spectators leaned in and screamed in my ears. I was offered a San Pellegrino hand up (what, no beer? So disappointing). By the time I reached the top, I was light-headed and starry-eyed, and not because I was in love with that hill. Involuntarily, I slowed. I had to. I just wasn’t getting enough oxygen. I wasn’t really racing, I was just riding-just surviving. I didn’t want it to be like this, but it was.
By the 3rd lap, I was riding better. My lungs were a bit more under control and I just tried to ride well. I had been lapped by most of the Pro field and at least 1 cat 3 woman. Definitely not my day out there. I kind of knew it would be that way going in, too. I’ve ridden 10 miles in 2 weeks, which is a big problem. It was pretty cold yesterday, and I usually adjust well to colder temps, but I haven’t made the switch yet. I also crashed twice. Minor crashes, nothing serious but enough to slow me down enough to be passed by a rider I probably could have held off otherwise. Meh. I can’t worry about it too much. I’m 44 years old and doing this crazy sport for fun. And the race–it was fun. But I have a lot more fun when I’m really racing, when I’m physically performing, and this time, I just wasn’t.
So now, I have to find a race to do between now and the end of the season to end on a high note. I’m considering one or 2 other races….but the fields are tough, they just keep getting younger and faster, and I just keep getting older and slower. Maybe it’s time to get serious with that trainer in the basement.
On another note; the race was PACKED. This is my 3rd year doing this race and I have never seen so many people. They had fires going which took the chill off when you got close enough to them. The costumes were a blast and they had a huge turnout for the Singlespeed Race. As a bonus, Cyclocross Singlespeed National Champion, the one and only, Mo Bruno Roy raced. So awesome. I met Mo a couple of years ago and she is super nice, and I found out we are from the same town originally (she moved when she was still a kid). Anyway–any cyclist with a Boston accent is OK in my book 🙂 I got a few pics of her in her stars and stripes kit. And the race announcers did an excellent job calling the race, keeping it lively with a professional feel.
No, it wasn’t my day at Cheshire yesterday–but still a great race, and growing in popularity. Put it on your list for next year if you can!