I'll start this post with the warning that I'm going to be coming at you like a spider monkey with excuses.
I felt compelled to assault the cyclocross circuit on Saturday as the race was on my turf at Mt. Ogden golf course. I dabble in golf a little and admit freely that I loathe playing Mt. Ogden. I'll add that racing cyclocross there is almost as bad an experience. The course was mostly straight up and down, with some flat thrown in to get you from one steep to another.
As I mentioned in my last post, I've squandered most of the fitness I had in early October. Still, cross is for fun, and the stars aligned to provide me with a good opportunity to go. I hoped that I would have enough to be at least competitive. Unfortunately, I had a video/photo shoot the day before that required a 3am wake up, 3 hours in the car, running around on my feet all day, poor nutrition, another 3 hours in the car and finally to bed about 11pm. Not optimal preparation for race day. I was hammered all morning before the race. I fought off a noon nap to finish getting ready and left home at 12:30 for a 2:00 start time. I showed up, checked in and went back to get on the trainer. I had a solid :30 minute warm up, but the harder efforts were anything but effortless. I could wind it up, but fatigue rushed to my legs quickly.
I changed into race kit suitable for the 40° temperature and headed to the start. They were running later than usual, and I ended up standing there shivering for 15 minutes before the race finally started. The start was straight for 50 yards on soft, damp grass until a 90° right hander sent us flying in a close single file on more damp grass. I had elbowed my way midpack before the right turn and was feeling alright. Then I lost any hope of a decent finish. We veered onto a singletrack then turned 180° up a technical section. Three guys in front of me stacked it and when I got through the mele the field had strung out, the leaders already had 20 seconds on me. I ground up the steep climb, punched it on the double track and went too fast around corners in an effort to pull back some time. Which I think I was doing, until I blew through a steep, off-camber downhill turn. Twice.
By lap three I had demon turn figured out, but the race had gone in front of me. I didn't lose a lot of time due to riding, the race was lost on the first 180° and the two trips down demon turn. I faded a little, but I'll bet everyone did. I only lost by about 45 seconds. Pre-riding the course might have helped, but I would have had to really stroke it to make it to the 180° in better position and then paid for that. Ultimately I ended up 11th, behind a bunch of guys I put the hurt on a short month ago.
I think that the 2nd place earlier in the year made me complacent. This 11th has woken me up. There are a few races left this year, and I'd like to try and make it to Wheeler Farm and Ogden for my last two. In the meantime, I'll be spending some hours on the bike.