Saturday, November 29, 2008

Sussex County Cycle Cross - NJ State Championship

Cross racing has always been one of those things that sounds interesting but comes at the wrong time of year for me. Just as cross season arrives, I am looking to take a break from racing and to catch up with things off the bike. This year, things went a little different for me with my mid season Lyme taper. I guess the reason doesn’t really matter. Thanksgiving weekend arrived, Laura was racing and I felt ready to chase zebras.

Now, I did not have a cross bike, nor did I want to spend any money on this whim, so I chose Cheetah, my only geared hard tail mountain bike. Being my trail maintenance bike, and only being ridden a few times since cobbled together after I saved her from the dumpster and painted her, she got a minor tune up and 1.8 tires installed. Putting the tires on may have been a waste of time, as they became 2.0 mud slicks before I got to the start line.

My first lap was pretty bad, having to get off a few times, as I slid into the tape. The cross mentality does not mesh with my thinking, as I resisted the getting off part. And when you see me run or try to mount, you understand why I am on a bike and not on foot. I was in last place for most the first lap. As soon as I would catch up to someone, I would mess up. Finally, near the end of the lap, I caught my first chipmunk. Yes, a little kid, that I almost felt guilty passing, so I offered him some encouraging words and looked ahead for zebras.

Slowly, my riding became smoother and I started to pick off some zebras. The intensity was awesome, just like short track. I never turned my heart rate monitor on, but I felt like I was working hard. The lake and the sand were usually my best sections, thanks to “big daddy” for the cheering on the mic. I was just short of being gassed coming across the finish line at the end, as I was being chased down by another competitor. What a perfect end to the race! The whole thing went by pretty quickly, and seemed to be just the right amount of time to be out there.

My teammate Laura, who is racing in her first season, did awesome, and ended up winning. I was hoping she would win, and this was one of the reasons I came to the race anyway. So we hung around for results and to get a Campmor podium picture. I assumed I finished somewhere between 8th and 10th. What a surprise when I saw that I finished 5th overall and 2nd in the state championship.

So I guess I survived my first cross experience, and it was pretty fun and a great work out! As I enter into a time in my life where I begin to coast more, it felt great to rev the engines up. It's about time, as I probably had not done this since Mt Snow in July. .....Still, I would rather go mountain biking most the time, but it’s a nice excuse to go hard. I'm not too good at it, so if I do it again, I may need to practice mounting, and invest in some tires. There's a good chance cheetah and I will come out again next year and chase zebras.

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