Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Looking back...

I just completed my 5th season of cyclocross.


Started doing the Kris Auer 'cross clinics (He's hooked a lot of people on CX!) and did 4 races, all in the C's with good results in each of them.

Moved up to the B's and did 10 races. Fought it out in the 30's in MAC races and finally scored my first MAC Series point at Highland Park with a satisfying 24th place. In the local races I rolled my first tubie at Ed Sander to finish 12th and scored some cash in 5th at Hagerstown. I closed out the season with a 16th at Reston, the final MAC race.

The first year of Charm City Cross and another season in the B's, doing 7 races. With an infant at home (Thor!) I limited my schedule focusing on the MAC. Once again it was a battle to get into the top 20 in the MAC, with a bit more top 10 success in some local events. This was also my first trip to Natz. The highlight of my season was surviving the 35-39 Natz race in epic blizzard conditions to finish 35th.

This was a breakthrough year for me. I did 12 races in the B's and learned how to race. I was usually in the top 20 in the MAC and scored my first top 10 in the mud at Evo. In the MABRA events I was pretty consistently top 10. I scored a few upgrade points, but not enough to move up. At Natz I had a mediocre ride in the 35-39 race where I had decent legs, but was not aggressive enough. In the 35+ B race on Sunday I decided that I would go for it, race aggressively, and fight for position. In fact, pre-race I said my plan was to get the hole-shot, go all out, and blow up first lap. Instead I got the hole shot and rode in the lead group for much of the race. I faded a bit, but finished strong on the last lap to end up 20th, only a minute down on the winner. In a 200 rider field if you let up for an instant you lose places. 8-) That race really boosted my confidence for 2007.

My expectations for this year were modest. We had a baby (Gavin!) on August 29th so sleep, training, and racing were not priorities. Our race continued to take off with a hugely successful event for the 3rd straight year. After Charm City, I planned on doing a few races later in the year but things fell into place for me to race 7 times. With no pressure, renewed confidence, and a new B-Masters category I had an unexpectedly good season. A year spent riding a singlespeed mountain bike helped too, adding leg strength.

I had never won a bike race before this year, but managed to stand on the top step twice in 2007. That was cool. I also ended the year with enough upgrade points to move to cat. 2.

That means I'll be back to racing my ass off and fighting for position mid-pack...but that's all good. It was nice to race at the front for a season, but there is something noble and satisfying about duking it out mid-pack with kindred souls. We do it for the love of the sport and the experience.

So that's 5 years of racing and 40 races total. I guess that's not a lot, but looking back I'm real happy with the journey and all the rich experiences and wonderful people I've met along the way.

I'm enjoying the off-season (and a craving for chocolate chip cookies), but I already have an eye on the calendar for 2008. Less than 300 days to Charm City!

p.s. I can't thank Auer and Mega enough for getting me into 'cross! You guys rock!



Scott T. said...

A meteoric rise. I'm a year behind you. I started doing C races in 2004 (catching then outsprinting Bernie in my first ever cross race at Sander). I thought I was the king of cross, scoring a 6th, 2nd, and 4th (at Reston no less). But I lost a season to injury in 2005. I jumped up to B and was in the 20s, but hurt my foot. 2006 was an ok season, and a learning experience in the Bs. I had a peek at possibilities with a 13th at Granogue and 19th at Reston, both in this "B Masters" category....hmmm, I like that category.

Hopefully, I'll follow your tragectory and fill your footsteps next year.

Chris said...

The learning curve in 'cross is steep so big improvements happen. There are so many little things you can do to get better. More power always helps, but that's not all it's about...thank goodness.

'Cross is in the details and that's a big reason why I love it.

Jim said...

Congrats man. Impressive body of work. Me? Finished mostly somewhere near the top of the bottom third in the Cs last year, maybe 5 races. Finished somewhere between 50th and 75th percentile in most of my 8 or 9 C races this year, near the back in a couple B masters.

Next year? Haven't a clue. Hoping to make the jump into points-scoring land in the C races, and picking up a few extra B races on the days I can be out of the house for that long.