I’ve never been particularly fast in cross races, but I did have my fastest season this year. And, I have finished stronger in each subsequent race this season, which says something. It’s usually easier to finish higher earlier in the season when more new riders show up for the first exposures to the sport. At the end of the season you’re left with the people that are much more serious, and consequently much faster than me.
The race on Saturday was in a 55 degree rain (thanks, El Nino!) and had 3 long segments across the beach. By the start of the race, all of the practice laps had turned the beach into an enormous deep and long sandpit. It was brutal, but how could a cross race be any different?
I started off towards the rear and kept position for the first 25 minutes. As the race went on more and more people started to just dismount for 2 of the sandpits (the third pit was fairly firm). The main stretch of one pit was a cavern that was not even navigable on the first lap so I carried the bike through that one. The other pit was doable if you reached really deep and had your gear selected properly before you were in the pit. After those first 25 minutes I decided that I was not going to dismount for that pit, and quickly found myself passing a few people here and there in those moments. This was the last race of the year and the sand had already turned my bike into a grinding cement mixer, so I embraced the rain and mud and filth and tried to put all I had out there.
I picked off a few more riders on some of the flats and barriers and only was passed by the lead pack. I held my own in my little group. I came nowhere close to winning, but I finished the race on a personal high note – one that gives me a good deal to build on for next year.
I enjoy the book A Separate Peace, particularly the small kernels of wisdom it contains about social behavior. Phineas is fairly close to a perfect friend in many moments. I am thinking specifically about the scene where he jumps in the pool, swims all out, and finds that he has broken the school record. He and Gene are the only ones there and he has Gene promise that this record will remain a secret. They know, so who cares if anyone else does?
The results on the cross race had me only riding 6 laps, whereas all the people I passed were marked at 8 laps. I lost of lot of points in that slip up, and I know I counted 8 laps while I pedaled. So I’ll take a cue from Phineas and just keep that one in my pocket for myself. I know it may nullify my altruistic intentions by announcing that all here, but I don’t think too many people read this blog. Also, who wants to hear somebody whine about their race results so instead of finishing the bottom quarter of the field you can finish in the bottom third? Big deal.
It’s a great book, and now I want to reread it (again). And with some off season work 2010 can be an even stronger cycling season. Good plans all around.