The last race of my CX season took place this past weekend at Boyle Park, in Little Rock, Arkansas. Once again, the weather would prove to be more akin to early March, than late December, and for all 4 of the races in the series, I raced in a jersey and bibs. No extra kit was needed, as the temps were always mild.
Mathematically, there was no way that I could move into first place, and the only way that I could lose second, was for me to have the worst day ever ( which can happen) and for third place, to have the best day ever (which could also happen).
My race was the last one of the day, so I got to watch and cowbell for the other cat’s. I saw some old friends, and enjoyed the day once the sun appeared. Slowly, the “A” riders started showing up, and I realized that we were actually going to race today. I mean, I knew we were going to race, but now I knew that I was going to have to put forth some effort.
We line up, are given the instructions, and off we go for 50 minute of threshold and oxygen debt. I went into the first corner in second, and settled in for the pain to come. I got passed on the second straight-away, but didn’t panic and just followed the wheel through the first lap, as we all got accustomed to the course at race pace. I got passed again as we all bottle necked into a loose, off-camber corner, and once again I didn’t panic, there was plenty of time left to move up.
I stayed in fourth for a lap or two, as all four of use were still together, so there was really no need to burn matches in a chase or to go off the front. Third place bobbled a corner and I went around him on the inside. Second place was starting to fade and let the first place guy get a small gap, so I came around him and sat on the lead rider’s wheel. He lifted the pace and it was just him and I off the front. Slowly our gap started to climb and I knew the selection had been made as you could see the other riders off in the distance losing time.
We traded pulls for quite awhile, ten to fifteen minutes worth probably. Third place, while gapped at about 30 seconds, wasn’t letting up, so I knew the race would have to be ridden cleanly or he would catch back on. First yields to the side, the world-wide signal for “your time to pull buddy!” I pass and we start flowing through the chicane and then into the lollipop section. I had been battling this guy all season, and honestly, he’s super strong and miles ahead of me in aerobic ability, but…today I could tell he was in the red. We started really fast, and he had set the pace from the gun. I could hear him behind me coughing and breathing like he was climbing Everest. Hmmmmm, I have a chance here.
I lift the pace and get a few seconds gap. I start pushing the power on the straights and uphills, hoping to eek out a few more seconds. I have about 5 seconds when disaster strikes. The course had three board barriers in a row, and the first one was quite high, higher than what is allowed in a sanctioned race (this one was unsanctioned btw). My rear tire hits the high barrier, kicks the rear of my bike skyward, and I’m suddenly looking at blue sky and land with a thud, on my left side. The other rider stops, asks me if I’m okay, and takes off. I get up, quickly remember that I’m in a race and jump back on. I had a spectacular crash I later learn. People always congregate at the barriers in hopes of seeing something like this, and I had entertained them to no end.
First now has about 5 seconds on me as I slowly get back to racing. My body feels fine, I mean I know it’s bruised and probably rashed up, but nothing detrimental. My bike seems fine as well, the handlebars are straight and the wheels true, I was lucky at least. I chase for another 15 minutes, and was able to hold off third place and finish in second. It was a helluva race to watch I hear, and my little mishap made it one that will be talked about for some time. My left side ended up getting the full blow of the fall, with my shoulder showing some rash and being a bit tender. My front brake rotor was bent, but not enough to really steal power or make that much of a difference. There were high-5’s all around and we all enjoyed a beer. I had to tell the crash story over and over…I guess the ground might have actually recoiled when I hit, allowing everyone to notice!
I ended up second on the day and second in the series. Cross Boss is always great fun, and this year was no different.
Course was a dry field with a gradual uphill/downhill, a lollipop, and 3 wooden barriers. 55 degrees.
Clement MXP: 24 front / 26 rear
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