My first cyclo-cross season is over. 10 races in two months. It was a great season. I can’t believe how much more fit I am now than when I started. I can’t believe how damn hard ‘cross is — also can’t believe how much I love it.
Last weekend was finals for the MABRA and the MAC series. Saturday’s race was windblown and cold. The frozen grass made a funny crackling sound as we rolled over it. Pounded the heck out of our hands, too. The course was fun — twisty-turny with a couple of good corners that rewarded fearlessness.
As is common on these tight, technical courses, I spent most of the race trading places with Kevin and a single-speeder named Andrew (nice to have another fool in the crowd). On the last lap, I figured out I could ride a short embankment that everyone else was running, so I opened up a little gap on the guys and managed to hold it to grab 6th place. It felt good.
Sunday arrived cold and wet. It had snowed overnight and rain had turned the snow into a drippy crust on the grass. But the wind was gone, so I was feeling happier. The day before had been really painfully bitter. This race was supposed to be the less technical, more hammerfest-y of the two races and I can’t say I was really looking forward to it. But the weather has a way of changing things. Halfway through my warmup lap, I looked down at myself and laughed. The course was really sloppy and I was already covered in mud and having a blast.
The promoters had opened it up a bit from the day before — many turns were more open, a bit less twisty-turny — which was a nice accompaniment to the mud. I figured out I could do some fun two-wheel drifts and keep a bit of momentum through the slick corners. The barriers were now inside the beer tent, which was fun. Overall, It was just a really fun course. I expected to enjoy myself on it, but didn’t think about placing at all. I certainly didn’t expect to win it.
My start was mediocre. I came of the opening pavement about two-thirds back in the pack, but by the back side of the first lap, Andrew the single-speeder and I had worked our way up into the top ten. I was working hard, but feeling really good. Slowly, I kept picking up places until I grabbed the lead on the third lap.
I was gobsmacked. My goal for this season was to have fun and maybe get one top-ten finish. I certainly never expected to win a race. By the way… It is true what they say about winning. Doesn’t hurt quite as much as losing. Until the day after. Then it hurts a lot.
I can hardly wait until next fall.