Race Report :: Redline Cup CX Finals

Date: December 8, 2002
Event: Redline Cup CX Finals
Category: Senior B
Place: 26
Field: 55

An effort made for the happiness of others lifts us above ourselves.

— Lydia Child

A lovely but chilly day in Napa for a race. Just cool enough that arm and knee warmers were needed. But a perfect temperature for racing and to keep “the engine” from overheating. This time I would get myself to the line in time for a good start. Why place myself at a disadvantage before the race has even begun? If I am placing myself in the back because I think ‘better riders should be ahead of me’ then I am already resigning myself. That is negative! Get to the front and start off on the right foot. Be positive!

Next, I focused on the start of the course. The start/finish line was on a gravel running track. The start had the field circle the track once and then veer off onto the rest of the course. Therefore, there’s plenty of room to pass but a sketchy surface for a sprinting start. No matter, I would power off the front and stay ahead of the mess.

Count down to the start, 1 minute to go, 30 seconds, 15 seconds, bang! Sprint! Off with the lead group I shot. It was easy to motor ahead without having to be trapped among the field. I dropped in behind the lead riders and we sprinted around the track. Smooth pedaling was important since bursts of pedaling caused the wheels to slide on the track.

We rounded the corner, the field spreading out, and hammered down the start/finish stretch. My good positioning and power from the start placed me in the top ten on exiting the track. Now to keep that position and try to move forward. The course was tightening and stringing the field out. Now we headed towards the first tight left turn. The lead riders hammering up to it, braking hard, and then rounding the corner. But then a bonehead has locked up his front brake and is going ass-over-tea-kettle right in front of me!!! Bam! I can’t stop in time and my front wheel runs into his bike. I’m stuck and waiting to be clocked by a rider from behind. Luckily nobody hits me but now I’m trying to get free and past this mess. Riders are pouring by on my left and right. My great position is flowing away with the field.

I’m finally back on my bike, only a few seconds of delay, but an eon in a race and at the start. I’m now buried in the back of the field, trying to chase back up towards the front. We round the back north edge of the course and then drop down towards a short steep rise. I’m expecting the worst here, that people are going to stall and not make this rise and get stuck. Yup! Pile up and I’m trapped having to run this hill instead of just riding it. Came on people, learn to ride a hill. These guys need to ride more than flat ground.

Now I am way back in the field and all my positive energy has been shot off like a spark from your finger tip after shuffling around the carpet. I resign myself to cruising the race and having fun. The course is filled with a couple of cool little sections. I’m grinning like crazy as I launch off the lip of the dirt rise coming off the south parking area. I practice carving faster and faster corners on the grass zigzags. I place myself ahead of riders before the steep uphill so I can hammer it and launch off the top. Where’s Russ for the photo? Dang.

Somewhere along the way I hook up with Stephen and ride with him. He’s been practicing his wheel changing skills. We will swap tips after the race. Soon there’s only a lap to go. At least there are no leaders coming up and passing me. I settle into my last lap pace, making sure nobody is going to pass me and looking to pick anybody off ahead. Around the running track and then through the finish. I’m done. It’s quickly over and even though not having the race I wanted, I am happy.

Cheers!

p.s. Thanks to the peanut gallery… um, I mean my team mates for all of their cheering and support.

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