And cross season begins again. And again I find that it's hard as anything else I am doing all year and if I had any sense, I would be training for it during the summer.
I decided I can't race the Cat 4 Beginner races anymore in my 3rd season, so I am racing the women's 3/4 race. It is at noon, which is great for getting there to pre-ride and not rushing out in the morning, but means I don't get home until after nap ends, if today is any indication. In addition to that, it means I am riding with the fast girls. The really fast girls too, as the women 1/2/3 share the race with us, but at least I am not racing against them.
I really liked the course at Apple Cross. And I was very grateful to be able to pre-ride it with Karen, who pointed all sorts of stuff out to me. It had turns but not 100 180 degree turns, which I find get in the way of enjoying a course. It had nice swoopy sections. It had a couple of technical sections and some dismounts and a huge hill that was in fact ride-able, apparently, though I didn't try. It could have been a little wetter, as the dry conditions made it all really dusty, but I think I will choose not to complain about that.
I started out in the second row at staging but a big group of women left me in their dust (figuratively, but only because the start was on pavement) in the first 100 yards or so. I caught and passed a few in that first lap, but then rode mostly alone for the 2nd and 3rd laps. When I went by the judges on the 2nd lap and saw that we had 3 more laps to go (3?!), I almost shed a tear. And also resolved to dial it back a little, because that sounded like a lot.
I learned a few lessons as I went, like don't run so hard up the hill that you are still winded from it 3 minutes later, and I practiced some cornering techniques that I have been reading about. But mostly I searched for (1) the right exertion level to make it through without falling apart and (2) anyone else on the course. Unfortunately I found someone from the wrong direction on the 4th lap, when a woman who had been trailing me for a bit caught and passed me. She was gracious later in victory and complimented my handling in the technical bits. We didn't end up having to do that 5th lap, as we were pulled off the course after 4 (along with 10 others from the 3/4 race). As I approached the barriers on the 4th (which I had almost tripped right in front of on the 2nd lap when I didn't unclip smoothly), I heard on the PA that the winner of the Elite race was coming out of the woods, the section right behind me. I dug in with the goal not to get lapped, so at least I met that one.
This has been kind of a meandering race report, but I hope that I will be able to nail down my cross racing (and my reports) sometime earlier this year that I did last year. I had arguably my best race of the season in the last race last year, so peaking a bit earlier might be nice. Though maybe it was just the snowy conditions-maybe it can snow earlier this year. (Joking, joking, really.)