I have to say that I am having the time of my life racing Cyclocross this year. It’s been a blast. It’s too bad that the BASPS cut it short with 4 races instead of 6, but, hey, that’s minor setback. There’s plenty of other races out there. Including the District Cyclocross Championships held in conjunction with the CCCX race #4 series in Salinas’ Toro Park last Sunday, December 4th.
I’m unsure if there is any other benefit to doing well at the District Championships other than bragging rights. Maybe there’s a call-up at Nationals, but I’ll never know since Nationals are in Madison, WI next month. And I will not be going to Madison in January. Digression.
I packed up the family early on Sunday morning and headed for Salinas with promises of post-race ice cream and the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Not a single complaint was heard from the 6 year old (Max) and 4 year old (Rennic) in the back seat despite their somewhat bad reputation as complainers.
We pulled into Toro Park, I got registered and I did a short test lap. The course was tough. A few technical sharp corners, but more tacky long corners where bike handling would factor in. There were a few sketchy sandy spots that would sap power and one long dirt run-up. After the run-up was the longest sustained descent I’ve seen in cyclocross race. Followed by two tree-trunk dismount areas.
At the start line I saw several familiar faces from the BASPS series including Nick’s partner-in-crime, Zack Bass, who was having a great year. The call-ups were for the CCCX series, so I was second row next to Sasha Magee, another strong BASPS regular. At the whistle we started out fast, but not insane. I was about 15th or so and I settled in to see what would happen. Quickly riders started to soften so I picked them off one -by-one before the first corner.
I found myself going through the first few whoop-dee-doos behind Sasha with two riders in front of him. I think we were in about 9th and 10th. Sasha then made a great move. He passed the two riders in front of him before a narrow no-passing section, leaving me behind, stuck behind the two riders. Sasha was able to open about a 20 second gap.
I finally got around the two riders and settled into a tempo hoping to catch Sasha. I took the opportunity to look back and realized that Zack was not far behind with a few other riders.
The long descent was largely uneventful during the race, but it it lead into a tree trunk dismount. The truth is I dismounted the first lap and felt an overwhelming shame. I pictured the MTB gods looking down on me in disgust complaining that this thing was round and only 12 inches tall. Can you really not bunny-hop that, you pansy? Next lap and all subsequent laps I F’ing bunny hopped it.
I’m not sure if Sasha was bunny hopping it, he was far enough in front that I couldn’t see. However, I do know that I was catching people on the descent and dropping their asses floating over the tree trunk while they fumbled with the dismount.
The race settled in at this point. I wasn’t really gaining on Sasha, but Zack behind me wasn’t gaining on me. Stasis. I passed a few more people.
The best part of the day was getting shouts of “Go Seth” (not “Go Dada”) from Max and Rennic. Every lap they ran out from their tree fort play-land in the park to shout encouragement. Awesome!
In the end I pulled a podium finish in 5th, just behind Sasha and just in front of Zack.