The Team HammerCross Party Bus traveled to the high country this weekend. A bunch of us rode Masters CX4 35+ in what was probably one of the toughest CX courses I’ve ridden. The combination of short punchy climbs, technical descents, and lots of gravel roads made for a challenging race.
This is how things unfolded….
It was a gorgeous day, sunny in the upper 60s (Unacceptable by CX standards but if you are going to suffer that much, might as well have a nice day) In a usual move, the race director did a call up for the entire field, all 50 of us, based on omnium score (not sure sure how they do that score). From the third row of 7 riders across, I has going to to have to take down a bunch of riders to get a top ten finish (I use “take down” in the nicest of ways!). I had already painted a bullseye on two riders, our own John “Quick Start” Ventevogel (second row) and Hansen Su (first row). Hey, someone had to by in my crosshairs if Burkes not going to be in the mix (BTW, USA Cycling has a great tool for analyzing your rival and prey and Hansen’s on the list).
There was some bitching and moaning about the call up procedure but if they did it for all the races, we could have more time to warm up and avoid the whole awkward tussle for the front couple of rows.
The start was about 100 yards of loose gravel which provided some excitement as you searched for traction. The holeshot was uneventful with no crashes. The first section of the course was a lot of weaving on grass covered with pine needles and/or loose dry dirt which was tricky, especially when it involved a descent. The middle section was flat and then the last section involved three climbs (see below), one big one (relatively speaking but when you are redline, it seems like Snake Mountain), one set of switchbacks, and a short run-up/ride-up, depending on your weight and gearing (a 34-26 was just at the limit). I caught Johnny V. on the straight away of the second lap and had my sights on Su. He crashed coming around a corner and as I tried to pounce, I crash as well. Took another half a lap to get by him before I crashed on the loose pine needles and he got ahead. One more punch up a hill and he was in the bag for good.
Make no mistake, this took all I had and then some. Major anaerobia, baby! Luckily, I had put enough distance on him and a couple of other guys that I could lick a few wounds up the final stretch to the finish (lap 4). But I was spent.
All in all, could not catch enough guys for top ten finish (16th). John V hung with the big dogs for a while but in the end finished 24. And poor Chris. This course punished guys built like linebackers or goalkeepers. He finished 43rd, contemplated a DNF multiple times, and declared this race the hardest CX race he’s ever done (Of course he emails me this morning wanting know why we have to wait till Saturday to race—we are a sick bunch!).