This weekend, the 'cross season started in force with the first two races of the Mud, Sweat and Gears Cyclocross Series in Tennessee. We carpooled together to get our very large group of riders there in as efficient a manner as possible.
The first race of Saturday was the CX4 race. On the line they announced that a subscription to Cyclcross Magazine would be given as a holeshot award. I thought to myself, "Well, looks like I'll be getting me a subscription..." They said go, we took off and I got the holeshot with Max "Ghostface Killah" Dyer on my wheel. As we went across the holeshot line, Max said, "You better let me read those when you're done." We kept the throttle on and emerged at the end of the first lap with a lead group of 5, including Max, Jack Brown and me. The perfect setup was in the cards for a Sledgehammer Charlie's/Luna Cycles win, but I came to grief on the 2nd lap with a couple of crashes and a mechanical. Jack and Max were still in the group putting the pressure on, but there was less of an advantage. Max crashed near the end of the last lap, but managed to power back to the lead group, but couldn't press the go button in time for the sprint. Max got 3rd, Jack 4th and I limped across in 29th.
Jeff, Todd the Preacher and I all lined up for the next race, the Master's 35+. We took off and I quickly evaluated the idiocy of me trying to race two races back to back and demurely pulled off the course shortly after the start. Jack and Todd duked it out near the front with Todd finishing 3rd and Jeff finishing 6th.
Sonni Dyer raced the CX3 race and is plunging into his first full season of 'cross with a vengeance. Once the nuances catch up with the motor, he is going to be a force to be reckoned with. His son, Jeremiah, took the Juniors race handily after finishing within the Top 5 of the CX4 race. The kid is every bit the motor that the father is...
I spent most of last night positively visualizing how I would avenge my poor performance of Saturday. My stated goal was to win the CX4 race on Sunday. But the sermon on the dismount included much more than vengeance and wrath, as I would come to discover. Jack and I toed the line, ready to make good on the promise of yesterday. We again made the selection and found ourselves in the a lead group of 4 with the same two guys as Saturday. A few bobbles here and there could not deter my motivation, and I hung tight in the group as Jack did the lion's share of work keeping the pace high enough to discourage anybody from getting antsy.
I had literally dreamed of when and where I was going to attack to win the race, and I was fortunate enough to lay it down in exactly the way I had foreseen. Attacking on the final paved climb, I gapped the group and drove hard into the grassy finishing dip and rise. Just as I was about to stand up to make the final push to the line, my rear wheel shot up in the air and to the left as it bounced out of an unseen hole. The gap closed. I stood to sprint and again, my rear wheel shot up in the air out of another unseen hole and my two companions came around me. I crossed the line in third, hand raised in a what-can-you-do? gesture as the final part of the sermon, humility, was writ large before me.
Jack came in for another 4th place finish. My hats off to him for all of his work to set me up. I'm just sorry I couldn't pull it off. Later, the guy who won the race came up to me and said, "Now I know that I won this weekend because of your bad luck. I'll know that for next time." That compliment was the saving grace of the race for me. I don't think that most people have any idea how hard it is to win a race of any kind, let alone a bike race.
Nicole Thomas drilled the Women's CX4 field, walking away with 1st place. Jeff had a much better day in the Master's field, taking a hard won 3rd place. Chris Thomas joined in the fun, landing himself in 11th. Jeff then decide to enter the Pro,1,2 race, but a wrestling match with the course tape at the barriers tok him out in the first lap and he wasnt able to make up enough ground to make the race worthwhile.
All in all, not a bad opening weekend. I have to admit that my two goals for the season were to finish Top 3 in a race and to win a race. Now that I have two top three's out of 3 races, I find my expectations rising. I've got to remind myself to just take things one race at a time...