11:00am | Although few competitors are near to be seen, I register and hop on course to recon the pain that was about to ensue. Red and white course tape lined the tree covered course that resembled more a short track event than a cyclocross race. Not a cambered straight or even run-up on the course. This, was nature.
This weekend, I'm off to spend Pre-Thanksgiving with my amazing parents Mark and Patti, in Winston-Salem. On my way home on Sunday, I'm going to make effort number two at Veteran's Park in Charlotte, part of the growing NCCX series and hopefulyl stop by to see my college roomate and good friend Dan who bought a house on the course about two years ago. Here's to making a better effort...
12:00pm | My reconnaissance would pay off in turn one. A sharp, bottle-necked 90-degree turn that quickly wrapped into a 180-degree left-hander before a doglegged sprint into the singletrack. I on my singlespeed and the majority of our field geared, was at a disadvantage in the sprint. The lead riders took off and seemingly forgot the aforementioned hard right to 180-degree bottleneck I just described and piled on top of each other. I made a sneaky pass on the right and found myself sitting in first place through the singletrack. I sprinted hard and put a solid gap into my geared rivals.
12:08pm | It wasn't long before the stampede would catch me. I did my best to fend them off by taking tight, fast lines and making myself big through the turns. Did I mention the corners on this course? This course was one big corner. It was very difficult to stay on top of your gear because the optimal chances to open up the engine were nonexistent. Cant left, cant right, foot down, at every opportunity I was out of the saddle trying to get back up to speed. My hips have never burned so much.
12:10pm | My attempts to hold onto number one were flighting. A rider tried to take my inside line and jammed his front wheel between my crank and chainstay, right under my foot. After untangling myself from his mess I found myself in fourth place. I like to call this part of my race: Momentum Lost.
12:35pm | One more rider ended up catching me around the barriers (where I need lots of work) somewhere on lap two. For the remaining three laps, I did my best to limit my losses on the front five and hold off the field behind. My cornering become a bit more sloppy but I found myself having a lot of fun. Snot pouring out of my nose, the dreaded cross hack creeping in my chest and throat, the burn of Soigneur embro still tingling on my thighs and calves I soon crossed the finish line in fifth place. First in the single speeders.
They started the juniors about a minute behind our race and I gotta say, I had the most fun on the course riding alongside these lapped saplings. I would ask if they were having fun and encouraging them to try to sit on my wheel. These kids, most of whom were forced to race on their entry-level mountain bikes with skateboarding helmets and flannel jackets were probably wishing they were at home playing Wii at the start of the race. I hope, and think, that maybe I helped make this forced family fun - more fun.
This is a new start for me and my off- and -on relationship with racing. This is my New Year of Making a Better Effort. I have the love and support of a great woman who wants me to pursue my love of competitive riding. I also have this group of amazing individuals that has truly grown into something spectacular and inspiring. Some of you I plainly consider my closest friends. In this New Year of Making a Better Effort I will also not take anything for granted, not my loving wife-to-be's support and encouragement or your selfless efforts and contributions to this little team we started four years ago.
On another note, we have found a steel/aluminum manufacturer Stateside to build our cross and mountain bike models. We are actually in the process of providing detailed insight for their house geometry. This has all of the promise of a beautiful partnership for KIND Bicycles, our team and our causes in the future. Be stoked.
Also, our carbon order for the Koura, KorsAir, KuTT and K.38, K.50, K.60 and K.88 tubular wheels and rims ends tonight at midnight. If you want/need race wheels or frames for next road/tri season...get those orders in tonight!