Men’s Cat 4/5 Race Reports
I didn’t want to write 2 race reports so I crashed today at Hub Labels CX to avoid that, right clay? ; ) Haha Kidding! But only Clay will understand. He dominated the power sections and rode really strong, it was great to finish a tough race just behind a teammate and give a thumbs up on the other side of the tape.
Luray CX was oddly difficult for how short the course was. No matter who I talked to after the race, everyone had the same response. The course was short, but had a lot of false flats and 180 degree turns. The call up consisted of the VACX runner up of last season and personal preference by the promoter and then whoever got to the start line quickest. No cross-results rankings which caught me off guard so I started in the 4th row. Immediately I was in the madness of bottle neck turns and power sprints to gain or hold position. It was a sufferfest the whole race but I managed to move into the top 15 by the 2nd lap. I tried to focus on the fundamentals of smooth cornering and consistent pace but had trouble getting into a rhythm. I could hear Clay, Jamie, and Beth cheering for me to grab wheels and that helped tremendously in staying on my gearing and not sitting up. Near the beginning of the 3rd lap, I was chasing to grab the wheel ahead of me and lost focus on the bump ahead and ended up getting bucked into a weird position and crashing relatively hard. I was able to get back on and only lost 2 positions but I definitely lost my momentum and finished the 4th lap in 20th out of 63. Good race to shake the cob webs and get used to skinny knobs.
Hub Labels CX today suited me much better as far as a more mountain bike rider style course but I didn’t have the legs to hold position. I started the race sitting around 6th/7th position but drifted back to 10th at the end. Easy to look back and think of sections I could have pushed myself harder and picked better lines but just as easy to realize it’s still early and I didn’t have the fitness to keep the pressure on for 5 quick laps. Great first weekend of the season and plenty of racing left to grab the necessary upgrade points. Thanks to Eric for the lap 2 motivation. Need to focus on fundamentals and stay fluid through the entire race rather than stress the chase.
Men’s 45+ Open Report
Course: A 2.0 mile rolling loop
Conditions: Dry and dusty with temps in the mid 80s
You never really know what to expect at the first race of any season. You can feel like you have good form (or not so good form). You can think you know about your competition from previous seasons, but how will they be racing since last season. If you are racing in the age group races, you also have to contend with a whole new batch competition each year, some of whom are really fast! In ‘cross, you probably are out of your rhythm with
technical features like barriers or off-camber turns. In this case, I felt like my form was good, if not great. Also, the team had met 3 or 4 times to work on cornering and barriers, so I had gotten more early season technical practice than other years. In the end, I would be pleasantly surprised.
The Hub Labels Challenge would take place on a new course and after previewing a couple of laps I was excited about the course. It was very turn-y, had a little off-camber and small rock obstacle that would be a ride/run decision each lap.
After cheering on Chris and Clay in the 4/5 race, I lined up with a small field of only 11 or 12 riders. On the whistle I got out to my usual sub-par start and went into the grass in about 7th or 8th place. It took me about 1/2 a lap to start to pick people off, but I started to move up to the top 3 by the 2nd lap. About half way through the 3rd, I bridged up to the solo leader. He let me come around, so I took a long dig. When I got around the next bend, I peaked over my shoulder and I had a small gap! Having never beaten this guy before, I figured this was my chance. I dug again and by the start of the lap 4, I had a gap of 7 or 8 seconds. I went hard on the 4th (of 5) laps and had a good groove on the turns, stretching my lead to 10-12 seconds. Now, all I had to do was stay smooth……
Of course with about 2 minutes left in the race, I washed out on a short, off-camber turn and suddenly my lead was almost gone. I gathered myself, got back into rhythm and then went as hard as my legs would go up the finishing climb. It was enough to keep me on the front and earn my first win since 2014, as well as the first leader’s jersey of the Sportif Cross Cup series.
This weekend was a great start to the MABRA calendar. Luray is establishing itself as a must-d0 early season race and the new Hub Labels course is super-fun with some unique challenges. Make sure to put both of them on your race scheduled next season!