"Tensions ran high, but we ran higher". So goes one of my favorite quotes from the My Rules photozine. Nothing is quite as fondly remembered as the butterflies in your stomach as you line up for some event your not so sure you can do.
That was the thing running through my head as I lined up for my 1st cross race. Buy a bike on Wed, race it on Saturday? Sometimes you just have to jump first and look second. I had practice mounts and dismounts on this bike for about an hour.
Got to the race(Plymouth North) early to be able to preride as much as I could. First off which way does the course go? Luckily, people at a cross race seem friendlier than at a road race so that question gets answered quick. Off I go one set of a barriers and one run up. One pretty technical( for me!) single tracky section. Pre ride ended fast.
My mind was racing-how many layers to wear? what tire pressure?. Would I even notice a difference on tire pressure? What would be worse a flat or a rougher ride?
Line up for the start. A prime for the hole shot and a prime for the first lap. Based on that, I knew it would be a fast start. I lined up in the second row and didn't challenge the start. First time through the barriers was ugly. Luckily no one was watching. The run up was much better and after one lap, I was pretty sure it would be okay. Just another 30 minutes in the pain cave. Off the back, but okay with that. Shifting the SRAM wasn't a major problem, but my thumbs were ghost shifting where the Campy thumb levers should have been!.
Andrew from October was there and gave me some encouragement which was appreciated as racing off the back can feel like a lab experiment as you ride drooling past people talking and laughing behind a piece of tape. The urge to fake flats and get some neutral support Zipps was running high.
Bell Lap and it's over. Last place? Hard to know since I didn't get placed in the results.
It is obvious why cross is so popular. Fast and fun and over pretty quick.
Packed it up pretty fast after the race
Day Two. Plymouth South. Get to the race nice and early. My legs felt OK, not great, but not lead either. Start to preride and right off the bat, this is a harder course. Off camber corners after the start. Steep Sections. And a ton of riding around a soaking we soccer and baseball field. Steep hillsx2. Lots of wind and it was a loongg lap. Two warm up laps in, I am feeling like I might be in over my head. This is killing me and I am not even going full gas. But since it is technical and challenging, I decide to skip the race and preride until the racing starts. Maybe I can figure out how to ride some of it with some practice. Good move. I got in about 90 minutes of training and bailed when the racing started. Watched the races to see what lines people took. I felt lame for not racing, but I think it was the right move. My 1st season goal is in December, so I need to bring what little "form" I have to a boil slowly and not burn it out when it doesn't really matter (excuses, excuses, I know....._)
There is something to be said for trying new things. Your mind gets fully utilized as there are hundreds of decisions to make and you can't go on auto pilot. I read somewhere that one of the keys to keeping your mind sharp as you get older is to pick up new hobbies and activities (they suggested learning new languages), and as long as I don't crash on my head, I think cross will keep my mind engaged for the foreseeable future. Just dialing in tire pressure seems like and endless quest. Never mind maintaining the mental upgrade list for another bike......