After I registered, a guy registered right after me, and I noticed that he was the same age and in the same category as me. He was dressed in sneakers, cargo shorts, and a white cotton t-shirt--definitely not looking like a "serious" racer, but something told me that this guy would be my "mark" for the day.
The course description on the event flyer said "This course will be designed trying to adhere to UCI Standards. We have all of the necessary features available." I took this to mean that it would be a very traditional cyclocross course, with many standard barriers and run-ups. However, I think everyone there would agree that the course could be described as "very mountain-bikey." I rode my 29er mountain bike (which is set up with a drop handlebar and rigid fork), and I was greeted more than once with the comment "It looks like you brought the right bike for the day!"
The starting line was at the base of a short, paved hill, which served to space the group out from the start. A couple hundred yards to the top of the hill and the course turned a sharp left into what I referred to as the "spectator loop." There was a steep downhill, followed by a steep uphill, then a couple of swoopy curves, all on grass, then a short paved climb up to the finish line.
|Here I am going down the first descent at the start of the spectator loop.|
|Me and white t-shirt guy heading up the first climb on the spectator loop.|
|Powering up the first climb|
|Heading up the paved climb towards the finish line.|
Soon after my first turn over the logs, white t-shirt guy was breathing down my neck and passed me up again; he must have been able to ride the downhill pretty aggressively on his standard 29er mountain bike. I passed him up again on the paved climb before the finish line. We repeated this cycle for the next couple of laps.
I lost track of time and the number of laps after a while. As I crossed the finish area for the 3rd, 4th, or maybe 5th time, I was sure we'd have one lap to go. When I saw and heard the race official announce "Two to go," I almost threw up. In cyclocross, that's the sign that you're doing it right.
On the grassy climb up the main loop during the final two laps, I put more of a gap between myself and white t-shirt guy. I saw him out of the corner of my eye gaining on me a couple of times, but he never caught up again. So, I finished about where I expected and what is typical of me, not on the podium, but not DFL (dead f'in last.)
|Just after the final finish|
The next (and final) race of the Northeast Ohio Cyclocross Series is this Sunday, December 9 in Broadview Heights.
Thanks to my friend Dave for the event photos and the post-race beers!