Friday, December 2, 2011
Being one of the oldest cross races in New Jersey, Sussex CX race is a tradition for many. This year was spectacular with warm temperatures and dry conditions. For some reason I was really looking forward to racing this day, and I have no idea why. I just woke up feeling like I was going to have fun. This is a good thing for sure.
I tried to get a lap on the course, but did not have enough time for a whole lap before the first race got underway, so I had to wait for the first race to finish before I could go out again. This was the first time I messed up my pre-ride timing, but I adjusted and waited. It was really no big deal, but it meant I would not be able to assist Art at his start. I hated to abandon him, but I felt I needed to get out on course to get a feel for things, and this would be my last chance.
Although not super technical, the course was quite challenging with a triple, up hill set of barriers that plucked you smack in front of a muck hole, and a single barrier very close to a run up, sending your heart rate out of control every time. So, even though the ground was mostly firm, the promoters made things a bit interesting for sure.
I struggled getting my heart rate up while on the trainer before my race, leaving me not properly warmed up at the start. At least I got a pre-ride lap on course before which was a help. When the gun (trombone actually) went off, I felt like I got dropped on the slightly uphill start. I got a little panicky, but once I turned the corner to level ground, I was able to bridge up and make my first pass right before the grass. I entered the grass at full speed trying to take the turn as wide as possible so that I did not have to brake. I ended up using the whole track, nearly touching the tape. When I looked up, I realized I was back on the train.
During the first lap, I passed the leader, who had crashed and was fiddling with her bike on the side, and two racers, leaving me in third place. I pressed and suffered for 3 laps trying just to hang onto Christina in the turns. She would start to get away and then I would dig deep and reel her back. Not sure if she had a weak moment or I had a surge, but I passed her on one of the climbs and buried myself to give myself a cushion for the turns ahead. With this little effort, I started to catch sight of Erin ahead. That carrot on the stick was all I needed, to keep me pushing ahead. Three laps, and probably my fastest laps of the day, I crossed the finish line in second place. This was the women's elite field, so I won some cash as well as a cool cowbell.
When I got home, I started to analyze my race. The week before, I read a blog post by Colin R of Crossresults.com:
and decided to compare my race time with the guys. What I found was surprising: If I raced the men's 50+ (which is my age bracket), I would have been 11 th out of 24. If I raced Cat 4/40+, I would have won by almost 2 minutes. I also would have finished 20 seconds behind last place in open B men. What does all this mean? I guess I am faster than I thought I was, but not as fast as the young boys. I am glad to race with the ladies, and hope to get more out racing. .... Keeping 2012 Cyclo-cross Master World Championships on my radar.