After some significant peer pressure, I caved and opted to do the Hiram Cyclo-cross race. The race was at the beginning of December so my memory is a little foggy, but here are some of the highlights.
The Weather: what else would it be except cold and rainy.
The Course: Cold and rainy, cold and MUDDY. The course was about 1.4 miles long had a narrow snake section with lots of turns in what turned into sloppy mud. There were turns around the Christmas trees, one curving descent into a pretty steep uphill followed by more turns around potential Christmas trees, another roller which led into an extended false flat. There was also a bump up to where the course was near the road that was 1) unrideable and 2) nearly impossible to run up while carrying the bike. There was also a lap around a small pond, which was the most rideable section of the course, but it had two barracades to break up any potential for speed on the course.
Game Plan: Sprint to get to the front so people couldn’t pass in the narrrow section then hold on for dear life!
What Happened: I managed to out-sprint everyone to the first turn after the start. I was in the lead for probably the first quarter of the first of two loops until I got to a turn in which I just couldn’t get my right foot clipped back into the pedal and was passed by eSpeed who was clearly frustrated by being behind me in the narrow course. I was just unfamiliar with the pedals and wasn’t able to get them to cooperate with me. I would say the inability to get clipped back in because of the mud was my undoing in this race. In the turns around Christmas trees, I dropped down to 3rd as I couldn't manage to get clipped into my pedals. I was never able to get the pedals to cooperate, most likely because both my pedals and my shoes were clogged with mud. The initial sprint also left me kind of fried. It was a horrible race, but I continued to race hard the entire time despite making no apparent ground on 2nd and 4th not being that close behind me. Because of the conditions, we only managed 2 laps, which was fine by me! It was miserable!
Other things: it was in the 40’s and raining so I wore what I would wear for a road ride in the 40's. As it turns out, cyclocross is more similar to dress for how I would dress for a run and not a bike ride. I was wearing tights and long sleeves under my jersey, and I was roasting! With no water during the race, I finished the race and had horrible cotton mouth, and sadly, there was no water to be found until I managed to get back to my belongings where I had left a bottle of water.
I ended up getting third, a nice podium finish to end out the cycling season, but I didn’t feel like race particularly well. I did have fun heckling others as they dealt with the progressively worse conditions throughout the day.
I should thank Andrew Miller for giving me a ride, it was nice not to have to drive all that way for a race.