Last week was a rough one. Between the garbage that I am dealing with on Ebay trying to sell off some bikes we don't ride, to my father drunk dialing me and causing aggravation I was not on such stable ground. On the way to the CX race on Saturday morning I didn't have much to say during the drive. Allison asked if I wanted to talk and I said "No, I am going to get this out of my system during the race."
The course was awesome! I really enjoy when the course is well thought out and has some technical nature to it. I hate the wide open roadie style stuff. It just isn't any fun. I can handle getting my butt handed to me, but I want to at least have some fun doing so!
I made my first mistake of the race before the start. I thought that the 35+ 1/2/3 would start in a second wave behind the non-Elite 1/2/3 so I didn't push forward or try to get there early because I thought I would get a call-up. WRONG. When I found out moments before the race that we were going to start at the same time I tried to push forward but only made it to around the 4th row. I did my best to pick off a few riders before the first turn, but then was forced to follow for the most part.
At the sand pit I experienced something entirely new. I had dismounted and saw an open line around the outside of the turn so ran hard. I was really lucky as riders had piled up on the inside! On the exit turn though any advantage I had gained was erased by some guy flailing around. I was naturally on the inside of the corner and when he saw I was remounting to pass he pushed his bike into mine and shoved his crank arm through the spokes of my front wheel. I just don't understand why people race like this. I desperately tried to separate the bikes while this guy tried to charge forward in a mindless fury. Precious seconds were lost but I was finally able to start racing again.
Not too long afterward I saw James Walsh slide the rear end around in a high speed corner and go through the tape. Looked like he came out unscathed though and I expected him to be passing me again some time later (he did, and Allison caught the moment as I cheered for him as he went by)
I was trying to race hard and was moving forward in the field when someone racing over their head lost control and slid across the track in front of me. Once again I lost precious seconds trying to avoid a pile up. It was a high speed sweeper leading into an up hill section and I had to push deep into the red to not lose too many spots.
Not long after that happened another rider lost control through a bumpy section of course with a bit of an off-camber banking. He skidded and slid across the entire width of the course and despite my best attempt to go around on the outside he managed to wind up with his cranks stuck in my front wheel! Something about my front wheel seemed to be a magnet for other people's cranks!!!!
Later in the race I was on the high speed dirt section that had a loose right hand sweeper and as I neared the corner I saw Jeff (race promoter) trying to repair the tape in a spot where many had gone down. I had no idea if someone was down in the course or what had happened. It looked like he was standing in the course and I totally saw the impending crash! I slammed both brakes and yelled "SHIIIIT!!!" Somehow despite both tires locked, sliding sideways through some branches overhanging the inside of the corner, and Jeff's eyes bulging out of his head like a cartoon, I managed to hold it together and stay upright and Jeff lived. More precious seconds lost, but I kept charging.
I guess I was lucky in that I never hit the ground and all that these incidents cost me were small chunks of time. In the end I wound up top ten overall and I am pretty sure I was 4th in 35+. I really enjoyed the course and the racing. The last lap saw me battling for position with another rider that I caught from behind. We exchanged positions a couple of times and the sprint to the line was very close. I think he might have had half a wheel diameter on me. Great fun!
After Allison's race (I tried to stay warm by running around yelling at her to go harder) we rode up to the Griffith Observatory and down the other side of the hill. The views of the Hollywood sign, the downtown LA skyline, and the Observatory were really nice.
Sunday morning we headed up to Idyllwild to battle a two-headed snake. Low cadence force work on the climbs, and speed and bike handling on the descents. The weather turned out perfect and the trails were stellar! My legs responded well despite the previous day's punishment and I had a blast shredding single track and giving Allison a rabbit to chase!!!
I am quite sure it is impossible to convey over the inter-webs on a blog post just how incredible I felt tearing up the corners and airing off bumps, racing against no-one and everyone at the same time, Allison fixed on my back tire like a heat seeking missile, tires slipping and clawing for traction, a moment of silence as we take flight over the crest of a natural table top jump in the trail. The fist bumping when we got to the fire road in celebration of a victory, that we had conquered nothing but time and distance and the boundary between life and living. I love riding bikes with my wife!