X and i drove out to Iowa City a few weeks ago to race at Jinglecross. It was awesome.
Neither of us had vacation days available so we couldnt get there till around 11pm on Friday, meaning I raced only Saturday and Sunday. X was just there to spectate.
I knew i was out of shape and as this was my first big cat 2 race I would be happy with just finishing. I finished both days. I was happy.
The weather was great all weekend. My races were at 12:10 both days and it was short sleeve and no glove weather. We arrived on site with plenty of time and parked besides Sam W and Casey B. Sam showed me a short little singletrack loop in the woods and after a few laps of that it was off for a pre lap. The course was fun. One huge up-hill (easy to ride but hard to ride fast, it went on forever) and one huge down-hill (somewhat hard to ride but way easier than years past) were the main features, plus the lincoln logs and one set of barriers. There was a sand section but it was easy sand.
There were about 40 of us and i started in the third of four rows. My plan was to race conservative and as soon as they blew the whistle i did just that. Partly because i was a little uneasy on the gravely surface of the starting strait but mostly because i didnt have the fitness. Within 5 seconds i knew i was way slower than almost everyone else. Sam W started behing me but came shooting by before we even got off the starting strait. My conservative plan was already in full effect.
There arnt many exciting details. By the start of lap two i was close to last, by a lot, and the 3's (who started 30 seconds after us) were coming up fast. Pretty soon i was getting passed left and right. That was slightly annoying and got so bad that for a second i thougth i was a 3. A guy passed me with a 300 series number and i thougth, "ohh, he's in my race, stay on his wheel". Two seconds later i snapped out of it.
With two laps to go i started telling myself i was in the "human race", no categories, just racing against other humans. I was looking for ways to get motivated but nothing really helped. Mentally i was game but the fitness just wasent there. I pretty much had one speed all race.
Still it was fun. Jinglecross always is.
Just as fun as racing was watching the elite men race. I love sports and spectating at a big time cross race is one of my favorite events to watch live. I was running all over the place taking pictues.
After another buffet breakfast at our hotel we packed up and made the 5 min drive to the venue. We headed for the same parking spot as yesterday to find Sam and Casey already there. We had a good vibe going all weekend. I managed to ride 3/4 of a pre lap and get in a decent warm up, not as good as yesterday but i could tell i was stronger today.
I found Sundays course a little harder than Saturdays. The big uphill was ridable but not with my gearing, so i ran it. I was running really well early in the season but about 6 weeks ago i stopped my stair running so i made my way up the hill somewhat slowly.
I've waited too long to write this so the memory is a little fuzzy but i felt much better today. I had more control over the pace i wanted to ride. If someone passed me i could actually get out of the saddle and respond. I was still really slow but not as slow as the previous day. There was a crash on the first lap over the lincoln logs so i passed maybe 5 guys, that helped. Shortly there after was another technical spot which i negotiated efficently by dismounting, shortly after that was the flyover, and shortly after that was the run up. That's 4 dismounts (lincoln logs, technical spot, fly over, run up) in the first 3 minutes.
Towards the end of the race i was pretty spent at the top of the run up. It was all i had just to jump back on my bike and pedal the rest of the way up. I do remember a fan telling me "you're a good mounter", to which i wanted to reply "thats what she said", but i was too tired. Ahhh what could of been.
The downhill was pretty easy and pretty fun.
So, i finished 30 out of 33 finisher. Better than my second to last the day before.