A rainy start for the 35+ B Men at Manzanita Park

Category: Men’s 35+ B
Place: 1st
Tires: Hutchinson 34C clinchers @27 psi F/R

When one conjures images of cyclocross, its usually wet, cold and muddy conditions where dirt and water have penetrated every part of one’s body and bike, and only a hosing down at the end would make it even remotely possible to get back into your car for the journey home. CCCX #5 at Manzanita park was wet and muddy, but luckily it was pretty temperate except during some of the downpours.

The course was a fairly long, flat course with several 90 and 180 degree turns, complete with muddy corners and slushy double-tracks, which basically circled a few baseball fields. The start/finish is on the only significant hill of the day, and even that was not more than 350-400m long at about 3% grade.

Having done dry, technical courses with lots of elevation change, this layout did not seem to suit me all that well. My first warm up lap on the course confirmed my suspicions—I was working pretty hard just to get myself around the course, and there were no real rest points that I could catch a micro-recovery in. Without the fast, technical downhills to help me open a little space, I knew this was going to be a hard day.

So we lined up for our start in the rain, and I prematurely threw my rain jacket aside thinking we’d be starting momentarily. Well some delays were afoot and 15 minutes later we were all shivering and thoroughly soaked through. The good news was however I was 2nd row this time around, no more repeats of

First lap madness as I take some alternate lines to pass

BASP where I spend the entire race trying to make my way around people instead of actually racing to be competitive. A few guys shot off the front, but I was able to hold myself in about 6th position going into the first set of 180 hairpins. We were powering pretty hard and I did my best to hold off any challenges from behind while taking advantage of other rider’s hesitations as we hit the first muddy sections. Throughout the first section I took some more

challenging but faster lines and passed the leaders one by one until I was in front about ˝ way through the lap. However, I was borrowing heavily from my meager lactic acid savings account, and knew I would have trouble keeping this pace going for another 45 minutes.

So I pushed the first lap really hard and opened about 15 seconds on the leaders and started to

Working my way up single track mud climb

catch people from the field that started ahead of us. I tried to strategically pass them quickly so that they would clog up my chasers on the more technical parts of the course. This seemed to

work in my favor and after 3 laps, I had opened it up over 30 seconds, and that was when I was ready to simply die. I would have given anything for the race to be over,

and if I wasn’t leading, I probably would have slid under a tree and took a nap instead. My glasses were virtually opaque and I just didn’t have any more gas in the tank, so I focused on riding clean lines and staying upright. My last few races when I get far into the race, I get so tired that my handling skills go down and I begin to make mistakes. Luckily, this time around that wasn’t the case.

The last few laps are a blur, and I sort of lost track of where my chase groups were. I tried to listen to them

Uncorking my astounding sprint...but it was good enough!

call off numbers after I went by, and could tell that I had a good 40+ seconds on the next guy. So my last lap I just concentrated on surviving it and making sure that horrible sound coming from my drivetrain was not going to leave my stranded and running the last half a lap. I passed a few more folks and then hit the hill on

my last time up and gave it my all. In my delerium, I thought suddenly that someone was catching me, so I gassed it even harder until I simply passed over the line, unable to put up my hands or anything. Turns out it was someone that I had passed a half lap earlier trying to make contact again. I heard the sounds of the heavy breathing and could think only of holding them off with my fearsome sprint…right…

Anyway, it was my first win since something like 1995 and it felt great to do. I watched the A riders go by the next hour and saw how fast guys go, so I have a long way to go, but I’m enjoying the ride, which is all that matters.

One Response to “CCCX #5: Manzanita Park: Mud, Sweat, Tears and Victory!”

  1. Kevinon 06 Nov 2010 at 8:04 pm

    Sweet race!