Sunday, January 16, 2011
Limestone Cross at the Kiln
Cross racing - in January? Why yes I would love some - thank you! The boys and girls behind the Nittany Cross that kicks off our season here in the mid-Atlantic decided to throw one last party, I mean race, to close out the season. Held just a stones throw from the Trexlertown Velodrome, the Limestone Cross at the Kiln was held on an amazing venue.
First off, let me say the course design was very good. It made excellent use of the steep hillside that the venue had to offer, making the riders go down a steep, Euro like descent. It also worked in some great off camber corners that with mud/snow thrown in made for some challenging racing.
So to the actual racing. My training in the prior weeks to this race had gone really well. I was feeling strong and was mentally very motivated to try and do well. My goal for this race was a top 20 finish, which given how I was feeling, was in my mind an achievable goal. With the course as sloppy as it was I knew being in the top 10 through the first set of sharp 180 degree corners was going to be key to placing well.
I managed to score a front row call up. The green light lit up but I missed my pedal the first two strokes but managed to get in by the third. This wasn't a big deal at the paved starting area was rather short. As soon as we got on the grass and into the first turn I somehow managed to get myself to second wheel. By the 3rd turn, due to the leader's bobble, I found myself in the lead.
Wow, what a difference being the leader makes. Being able to pick the best line and not having to worry about that crash the comes on the first lap of the "b" race was great. What a rush to look ahead and see nothing but wide open course and no one in front of me. Everyone played it safe through the first several corners and about halfway through the first lap I was still in the lead with about 5 others guys behind me.
On the first tricky descent of each lap I decided to get a little aggressive and really push the pace. Bad idea. It was an off-camber downhill left turn which taken at too high a speed would cause the tire to slide out on the mud. You guessed it, that's what happened to me. By the time I was up and back on my bike I was in 6th place at the back of my group. But hey, that's 'cross.
Being it was only the first lap I knew I had plenty of time to work my way back up. By the middle of the race I was sitting in fourth place with fifth and sixth right behind me. I attacked hard through the barriers and the long straightaways that followed. With the top three clearly well off the front I knew I was now riding to protect my fourth place finish. I did suffer to more falls in some really slippery corners, but had enough of a gap that I was able to quickly remount both times and not lose any time.
When it was all said and done I came home in fourth place and recorded my best finish of the season. I even won a little cash - however I didn't realize cash prizes went five deep so I'll get my check in the mail later this week. If it covers the expenses of the weekend I'll be happy! Overall it was a great to end the season on such a high note. Sixth at nationals and fourth on Saturday really leaves me feeling confident that next season I may be able to start cracking the top 20 on a regular basis. For the full photo set please click here.
And with that, the 2010/2011 cyclcross season is officially officially over. The CX bike is in my shop now waiting for it's full rebuild and my road racing bike is in the stand getting a tune up for the rapidly approaching road season. I'm planning on doing a three or four road races this season just to keep the competitive juices flowing through my legs. It should be another great year. Thanks for tuning in for the last several months and I hope you will continue to do so for the 2011 season!
Thanks for reading!