The Noob Chronicles
First Race: Battle at Barlow – Sept 28, 2014
I hadn’t raced CX for about 13 years so I wasn’t exactly a true rookie but it has been a while since I stepped up to the line. I borrowed my brother-in-law’s Specialized CX-2, added some Schwalbe Super Swan clinchers and I was good to go. The promoter’s instructions on getting there were pretty good but I still managed to miss two turnoffs looking for Barlow High School. The turnout for the race wasn’t overwhelming like the Crusade series, so parking was easy, just a few feet away from the team tent. Mike K and his family were there all set up and ready to go.....it was great to have Mike there to talk about this race and CX in general… lots of good advice. I had yet to figure out the mysteries of clincher vs tubular, tire pressure, single-speed, flat bars, don’t ride through the finish line, where do I put my number, all that stuff.
More HFVer’s showed up: Shane, Mike H, and Wade were there, and Phillip made a special appearance when he would rather be watching football, because it was my maiden voyage and he wanted to support me in the master C’s. Thanks Philly! Ninkrossi was just the day before, so that was the big event for most of the HFVer’s.
The weather was cool and foggy, but the pitch was dry by CX terms. The course is actually pretty easy with one nasty little hill that you run down, then the famous run-up made up of railroad ties. Other than that, just some off-camber in the grass, and some pretty bumpy straights due to the dry summer.
Clydesdales were up first after the beginners, so I watched Shane and Mike H battle it out for the top spot.
For a noob any course looks difficult and it feels like everyone is going way too fast. I took a partial warmup lap and was amazed at how fast people were taking the turns in the woods, and this was just the practice! I decided to race the Master C’s since I was pretty much a beginner and Phillip was also riding this category. I opted to start at the back with the punters and saw Philly up ahead pushing his way into the middle of the scrum.
It seems that in CX it takes some pretty good bike skills and a big engine to hump around that course for 45 minutes. Well, I had neither, so I bounced around at the back of the bunch just learning how to not chicken out on the tight curves and off-camber. I did manage to pass Phillip and it was great fun to shout at him while we rounded the 180’s in the grass. In Philly’s defense, he does have bad knees and that gnarly downhill did him in on every lap. I think he said something like “ I’m never riding this @$#$%@ course again!” I also fell down a couple of times on this little tiny hill that I could not get up without hopping off or falling off….good thing I was in the back of the Master C’s.
I got a laugh out of the hecklers on the railroad tie run-up when I shouted, “I thought this was the easy part!”.
Mike K was at the top of the run-up and it was fun to hear him yelling when I came by.
I came in 51st out of 67 ( 76.1% ) so at least I wasn’t last. Philly came in about a minute back in 54th place. Like I said, that run downhill and up the railroad ties did him in.
Things I learned:
1. The start line is not always near the finish line.
2. Don’t ride through the finish line before the race.
3. Checkered flag doesn’t mean you won, it means you’re done and get off the course.
4. Your race number is good for the entire season. (running events, take note.)