|The kids got to dress up in their Halloween costumes for the race. They loved it! |
Photo credit: Sean Craig
I realize that I could probably request an upgrade and be approved right now, I but I would kinda like to see if I can go ahead and get the points first. However, I think I'll request an upgrade for next year regardless of how many points I acquire in the next two races, especially if the races turn out anything like this weekend's races did where I was in the front 1 to 4 riders with a good gap back to the rest of the field.
The weekend was a really fun one, even though it was busier than we generally like. I got out of work a bit earlier than normal on Friday and headed home where Rachel was getting the kids up from their naps early so we could get down to Pioneer's Park in Lincoln in time for me to sign in and warm up a bit before my 5 o'clock race time. We managed to get down to the course by 4 o'clock or so and I got right to warming up on the course. Holy crap was that course bumpy! I could tell it would be a hard race with very few places to recover.
The race on Friday went just about as well as I could hope. I got a front row call up, which was key, because the path we started on was only wide enough for four riders and it was paved, so it was fast. I grabbed the holeshot and left the paved portion of the course in the front position. At that point I realized I wasn't really sure how to race a 'cross race from the front. Do you give it everything and hope you don't blow up or do you let a group form and race it that way? I decided to go about 95% and see if a group formed.
I finished the first lap still in front (which netted me a t-shirt for the holeshot prize... neato.) but with a couple guys, Adam Little and Patrick Abendroth, on my wheel. About halfway into the second lap Adam moved into the lead and I believe Patrick came around me too. I did my best to follow their wheels and not get dropped. Eventually Adam started pulling away from Patrick and I and then Patrick fell of the pace too which allowed me to move back into second spot. With one lap to go, I was pretty sure I had second place sewn up and I was close enough to Adam that it was possible that I might be able to catch him if I raced real hard and stayed clean through the corners. In the end I was able to do the last lap about 4.5 seconds faster than Adam. However it wasn't quite fast enough and Adam finished 3 second ahead of me.
|Friday's Podium (1st Place - Adam Little, 2nd Place - Me, 3rd Place - Patrick Abendroth)|
Finishing second on Friday meant I got the second call up on Saturday so I got to start on the front row yet again. Saturday's field was over four times the size of Friday's field and Cole Limpach was in the mix. If you remember from a previous post, I've declared my season's goal was to beat Cole in a 'cross race. You may think that it's a bit silly or bullish for me, a 35-year-old man, to set a goal of beating a 13 or 14-year-old young man in a race. But you would only think that's true if you haven't seen him race! Beating Cole is far from a certainty!
I figured Saturday's race would be the day to beat Cole because he didn't get signed up before the online registration closed, meaning he had to register day-of which meant he wouldn't get a call up. So, I'd be starting on the front row, whereas Cole would be starting in the back of a 38 person field. That would be a lot of traffic for Cole to pick his way through.
When the whistle blew, I got off to another good start, taking the holeshot into the grass again. However, my first lap was riddled with mistakes. Something was off in my head, and I wasn't able to hold on to the lead for the whole first lap again. Despite warming up pretty well, my legs were on fire with the previous day's race effort and I wasn't sure I'd be able to hold the pace for too much longer.
On the start/finish straight, there were four or five of us jostling for position before diving back into the grass. Sometime in the second lap I think I had gotten slotted into fourth position behind Adam, Patrick, and a guy on a MTB named Andrew.
At one point in the second lap, I believe it was, I hear Cole's dad, Kevin, yell something to Cole about me being not too far ahead of him. It was in a twisty section where what looks like a slim margin may actually be 10 or 15 seconds so I chose to believe that Kevin was just trying to motivate Cole rather than think that Cole had already fought his way through 25-30+ dudes.
About a half lap later I found that, in fact, Cole actually had moved up very quickly and was right there behind me... make that ahead of me as he made his way past me. I gritted my teeth and worked hard to not let Cole get away. I was banking on Cole not being able to hold the pace he was setting since he had to have burned a lot of matches working his way through the field. Fortunately, the fire in my legs had settled down and I was settling into a good hard pace that was sustainable, I thought.
At some point, I think Patrick's back started giving him problems and Cole and I made our way past him and then our race was for third place. I was still waiting for Cole to pop and was starting to worry that it wasn't going to happen. Fourth would be an okay finish in such a big field. I would still get some upgrade points, but my goal of beating Cole would remain unfulfilled.
But then it happened. Cole seemed to fade just a hair and I made a pass. I think it happened in the middle of the fourth lap. I spent the remainder of the race trying to ride smoothly enough to stay ahead of Cole and hard enough to see about chasing down Adam and Andrew. Adam and Andrew were out of sight by then, though so trying to move up a step on the podium was not looking good. The last time down the start/finish stretch I put the hammer down hard and, I think, snapped the elastic between Cole and me. I rode the last lap hard and finished 18 seconds behind Adam who was another 12.5 seconds behind Andrew.
|Saturday's Podium (1st Place - Andrew Casburn, 2nd Place - Adam Little, 3rd Place - Me)|
So, I did it. I beat Cole in a 'cross race. Yet, I don't know if I'm going to count it. I want to see what happens if we both start in similar position. Had Cole been on the front row with me on Saturday, I think the race may have turned out quite differently. The guy is very quick and he's better than me in the corners. The only thing I think I have over him is better endurance right now. That won't last long as he continues to grow and develop, so I better get to work on continuing to improve my handling skills! At least my stutter step is pretty much gone now!
The weekend was rounded out with a birthday celebration on Sunday for our youngest kiddo, which, while a real hoot, made for no real rest that weekend. Both Rachel and I are dragging this week something fierce!
Next race is on November 7th where we'll head back down to Pioneer's Park for Star City CX's race. I'm looking forward to it. The Lincoln people know how to throw a CX party and I hear Hooligan's Hill is a real goody! Hopefully, I'll have accumulated enough rankings to start in the first row or second.