Last we spoke, I showed evidence of the pre-Reston festivities. Well, turns out Matt wasn't lying about improved performance after a few too many. Apparently the same holds true for Ellicott. They flew at Reston. I kinda bumped along turbulently.
Reston was the last MAC series race. It was where, three or four years ago (where has the time gone?), I first watched a 'cross race. It looked fun and crazy as hell back then and just watching made me wanna get out there and do it (my mom just told me the same thing after I sent her Alex's photo album from the race...I'm all for it, ma)! The venue is great and the weather, in past years, has always been bright and sunny. I was glad to be there to ride the thing this year and not just spectate. Left the spectating to a worthy crew...K, the A-man, and SVR were out in full force.
The race was my first foray into the Killah B class. To clarify, I raced Bs down in Richmond, but I think all would agree that it just ain't the same down there. The MAC races are stacked and I'm sure plenty of the guys in our field shoulda been up with the Elites, but didn't wanna throw down for a UCI license. No matter.
Race started kinda oddly. After call-ups, we were all penned up in our rows and fatmarc was crackin' jokes and people were laughing and guys were leaning on their top tubes and...bam! Someboday blew a whistle. Was it the 'go' sign? Weren't we supposed to get some sorta intro from the race official? Apparently not. After a few seconds of further confusion, we were all on our way. Of course, almost immediately, I was nearly off the back. Trouble engaging with the pedal and shock of the unexpected whistle (oh yeah, and my OCD personality that had me reaching for my HRM when I should've been sprinting off the line) took their toll.
I pre-rode the course once and thought I found a few decent lines through some of the technical shit. Of course, those perfect lines all get shot to pure hell when you're racing shoulder to shoulder and your lines aren't your own choice. That's how it was for a bit. Eventually, we strung out a bit. The first lap is a bit of a blur at this point, but I know I made up some ground on some of the power sections. The double log crossing was a pisser and my remounts were, as usual, nothing to write home (or on this blog) about. Made it down the steepest and sketchiest decent without incident the first time around...amidst a small group. Phew. Next lap, though, didn't treat me so right. On that 180 transition from clay to pavement (off-camber, no less), I took the inside line (which I did for another three laps and only figured not to do on the final lap!!) and slid out. Pisser. I hit the deck and was nearly run over by the fellers behind. I picked the bike up and went to re-mount on the paved section. Chain was off the front ring...despite the guard ring and Third Eye inner guide. Took a few seconds to put it back on, but that was long enough for about eight guys to come zipping past me.
My worst enemy is the crash. It takes the spirit outta me. I ride tentatively after each one. I tense up during the technical sections. I worry about the damage to the bike. All these things are distractions that lead to poor performance. It's no excuse, but it's the truth...for now.
In typical form, the bike again shifted like total poop. When I finally figured out how to ride the shortest and steepest and loosest run-up hill (put it in a smaller cog to get some grab outta the tires instead of spinning the easiest gear at a high rpm), the chain would kinda bounce around on the cogset...bucking, jumping, jolting, picking and choosing wherever it wanted to be.
I spent the last two laps battling some chasers and finished with a friendly fellow from Mass. In the end, I didn't post a great finishing spot. 35th out of 50-ish isn't so hot. The upside is that I didn't feel so, so, so terrible. When I wasn't worrying about my crash and riding tentatively for it, I was going well and going strong. I'm sure I've made some fitness gains in recent weeks (thanks, Josef), so there's that. I know I'm not gonna fare well when I don't practice 'cross skills during the week. Re-mounting and taking 15 seconds to find the pedals is no way to stay in contention with the Killah Bs.
For Nationals, I'll hope for magnetic pedals, a bike that shifts effortlessly, and no crashies, no crashies.
I'm sure I typed at least a thousand, so I guess the photos could've taken their place. Go Evan, Matt, and Kyle. And me.