I had a trip planned to the Cape anyway this weekend to help my mom transition the house from summer to winter. Why not throw a little ‘cross action in the mix? I did this race 2 years ago when I was getting back into the racing scene and remembered enjoying parts of it. Back then I was cruising on my Litespeed Appalachian which was incredibly poorly set up for ‘cross. The course winds its way through a members-only farm meaning we raced between rows of fruit-bearing trees; around pumpkin patches; skirted vegetable gardens; and bombed by goats and maybe a llama pen. The topper was the barriers were set up in the beer garden. Classic!
The venue was a 25 minute bike ride from our house, so I loaded up a backpack, attached pit wheels to it and used the commute as a warm up.
Lucky for me I left when I did. I thought the race started at 2pm so I arrived at 1:15 to get settled and check the course out. Upon arrival, I see a bunch of guys semi-lined up, but hoped they were in another category. As I got my number, I learned my race was slated to have started at 1:15! Luckily (for me), there was an injury in the women’s race and they delayed my start for an ambulance. So, I ended up getting in a couple of crucial laps in and was as prepared as I could have been for the start.
I lined up about mid-pack and darted off the dirt road to begin an hour’s worth of bar to bar competition. The start was surprisingly mellow, I guess it’s too early in the season to be cutting guys off for 1 spot. As mentioned, this course is unique. Normally there are no “singletrack” sections in ‘cross races and this venue had a few, including a part that pinned us against an animal pen fencing and this is where the first hang up occurred after the start. This strung things out considerably allowing the leaders to motor on unhindered. But, I didn’t mind as I really didn’t know what to expect and there was a long ways to go.
My maiden voyage on the new Kona Major Jake was on a cooldown road ride after last weekend’s MTB race. It was immediately comfortable position-wise. What jumped out at me right away was its responsiveness. There was no delay in turning, it turned sharper than I expected, so I had to be ready. I rode it most of the week and did some skills practice on Wednesday. The frame is definitely a strong core. This quality is going to take some adjusting to as evidenced on race day when I laid it down 3 times on fast turns. I was also having a disagreement with my tires as I was expecting a little better grip in the turns!
Dirt, sweat, and gears = 'crossNonetheless, my MTB skills were a definite asset on this course as there was never a dull moment bike handling-wise.
I maintained position for the first lap and then set my sights on reeling in any rider within my sights. It was difficult to go hard as there were no long open stretches to put the hammer down. I felt consistently strong, not losing any power and passing riders was giving me incentive. I had no idea what place I was in and can only guess there were 30 or so in the event. I just hoped for a top-10, but wasn’t expecting it.
I passed 1 more guy on the final lap and had 2 others in my sights, but ran out of real estate and finished 8th. They gave $ to the top-12 so I was extremely pleased for the first race and am looking forward to becoming 1 with the bike.
It was a great weekend of jobs for mom and prize $ for the kids!