Race Report :: Surf City Cyclocross #3

Date: November 10, 2002
Event: Surf City Cyclocross #3
Category: Senior B
Place: 39th
Field: ~70
Team mates: Brett H., Mike M., Jeremy S., Stephen K., John R.
Support: Dennis, Funke, Jay, Jeremy

With one hour of ride time on my brand spankin new SyCip Cyclocross bike I was now heading off to the third Surf City Cyclo-X race down in Aptos. Actually, not only was it one hour of ride time but one hour of ride time on any cyclocross bike. Who needs practice? I’ve ridden mountain and road bikes for years. Cyclocross is just like mixing the two. Like peanut butter and chocolate coming together. Yeah, one great combination!

But wait, there’s more! The second portion of Northern California’s first winter storm is beginning to hit the coast. Rain is already hitting the coast. It’s going to be wet and muddy. Hmmm, is that good for a new bike?

My team mate Dennis and I are driving to the race. He’s a crazy cross racer so he’s mumbling good things about the weather. I’m having thoughts of the Cool MTB race I did earlier this year. Brrrr. We arrive at Aptos High School and pull into the parking lot. It’s covered in mud. Glad I have four wheel drive.

Dennis grabs his gear and gets ready for his race. I’m feeling lazy so I skip the Masters race and instead sign-up for the Senior B race with its rock star 1:30pm start time. Also, a better chance the weather will be better by then… or worse.

The Master’s race is a mud fest. This continues with the A’s and then the women’s races. The weather isn’t letting up and the course is getting progressively muckier. Hmm, is “muckier” a real word? Well, if not it’s still a good word for the conditions.

As the women’s race progresses I head back to the truck and get ready for my race. The bike is working great, as it should, being brand spanking new. Did I already mention that? I put on my layers of clothes, ending with my clear rain jacket. It’s doing its job keeping the wind and rain out.

I spin out, literally, get some traction and head over to the course to warm-up. The course is the most technical of all the CX races this year. Add the weather and we have a daunting combination. And here I am on my brand spankin new cyclocross bike which I have ridden for a total of one hour… oops, I’m repeating myself.

Around the course I proceed, getting a feel for the bike and for the first time, riding anything technical with it. Before each steep descent I repeat to myself “left lever is rear brake – left lever is rear brake”. The brakes being reversed on a cyclocross bike thus allowing continued braking with the left hand while dismounting and moving the right hand to the frame to lift the bike. Got that?
Done with my two lap warm-up, I’m soon lined up with the rest of the Senior B field at the starting line. After a long amount of time (cold windy rainy weather time) we get the whistle and off we rode. I choke the start and get stuck mid-pack as we head up the road towards the first run-up. Reaching that, it was obviously not the first “run-up”, it was the crawl, slide, pause, scramble-up.
After the herd cleared that section the pace picked up and it began to feel like a race again. Still, I was hesitant on the wet muddy corners. Perched higher up and with skinny tires was a completely different feeling than on my mountain bike. But I had to try. I had to test my limits and my bike’s.

So I started riding harder. By mid-race I had built up enough confidence in the bike to allow it to make its corners and take its bumps and jumps. It was running like a charm. The Tufo tires were holding the corners. The bike was solid but smooth on the rough sections. The rain was pouring harder and harder on my parade. But I was having fun.

And that’s the how the rest of the race went. I finished with a muddy smile while riding in on my brand spankin new SyCip cyclocross bike.

Cheers!

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