This last Sunday was the last race of the Team Lake Effect Cyclocross series. It was held at Boughton Farm in Copley on a flat and muddy course. I had though Willoughby was the hardest thing I've done. I know have changed my mind and put this race as the hardest.
Sara and I arrived shortly before 11 to get ready for the race. We got our stuff together and finished putting on our leg warmers and shoes in the car. When we arrived the temp was well below freezing and the sun was behind the clouds. After we signed in we headed out for our warm-up lap.
Not even a third into our warm-up lap my rear derailluer binds with mud and is pulled towards the wheel. I stop look down and start trying to right the wrong. I can clearly see the hanger is bent. I tell Sara to go finish her lap and I run back to the car to find a pair of pliers to right the wrong. I spend about 10-15 minutes with a crescent wrench trying to straighten it out. In the end I don't even get it close but enough to get it shifting and away from my spokes.
During Sara's race I set up her awesome trainer, it's rim resistance unit makes it perfect for cross and mountain biking because you don't have to switch wheels. I know I'll be picking one up soon. I spent about 30 minutes warming up on the trainer getting ready for the race. I really prefer this method to warming up riding around. I was able to control my efforts more and warm up right to the moment the race started.
I lined up towards the back in the skinny start area and the race soon started. I felt really good off the start, passing a couple people, up until the start of the single track where there was a bottleneck. I'll tell you what, getting into the single track is a lot harder in a cross race. No offense but I've never had that much problem in a mountain bike race. We mountain bike racers are more aware of it and plan for it while roadies seem to not think about it and when the bottle neck happens stand around not sure what to do. I was stuck behind a person who had gotten totally off his bike and ran the whole first section holding me and everyone else up.
Out of the single track I was still part of the large chase group, a little behind the leaders. I was still feeling good and still slowly picking off people. Until the first mud section hit, until the mud started to pile up on my bike. I had to stop and clear out the mud and the leaves from my tires to even get my bike to move. This stop let my legs get cold and the pack get away from me. From there on stopping and cleaning out the mud was a ritual I would do each lap atleast two to three times, Even pulling off my front tire once to get the mud out. At that point I rode my race, and focusing on trying to enjoy myself in these miserable conditions. I started carrying my bike over the mud sections to try and curtail the mud buildup in vain. Really didn't work but it didn't get my feet wet which made them freeze.
I finished the race a lap down in 20th place and went straight to the car to take off my shoes and warm my feet which had started to turn a deep shade of purple. Sara was kind enough to come and help in the warm process by warming my feet in a towel.
I was happy to finish my first season after a lot of races. I will probably do a race or two of the winter cyclocross series and I'll keep training. I'm happy to be down though, and I'm sure my dwindling bank account will be happy too.
Thanks for Bike Authority, Camba, Rudy Project, Ritchey Products, and Cranks Brothers for making this a great season.