Labor Day weekend was flipped upside down on me as my work needed me in Arkansas Saturday through Monday, so the big introduction to the P/1/2s at Gateway Cup would not happen. However, I was able to race Friday, and for that I’m thankful.
My teammate Kurt advised me to stay cool mentally as “it’s probably going to be the fastest and most dangerous crit you’ll ever do.” Lol. He added that he had been crashed out of the top 5 wheels before so…nobody is safe in the dark! Yes, this race is run in the dark on flat ground. It is great fun.
The field was pretty strong with real PROs showing up (Huff, Young, Dominguez, Sheerer, Jamis, Kenda, etc.) and plenty of strong amateurs gunning for a result. I went from racer mode to fanboy when I got a pic with PRO crit champ Eric Young beforehand. He was cool about it. I also joked with Brad Huff going through turn 2 or 3. We were racing around in fast circles and a group of (what sounded like) tweens were cheering rabidly. I asked Huff if they were cheering for him or me, he said “they don’t know me, it must be for you!” The other PRO watching moment was with about 10 minutes to go I was trying to stay to the front when as I took an inside line into turn 4 I noticed the Cuban Missile was to my left, bar to bar with me. I didn’t say anything but it was a cool feeling. I’m never going to receive a through ball from Messi, or tackle C. Rinaldo, but here I am with real PROs in the midst of the sport. Pretty cool stuff.
The big surprise from the race was that I felt I belonged. My concern coming in was that my legs would explode and my lungs would be singed as the PROs dropped kilowatts out of every corner. It wasn’t like that. It was fast (our first lap took 2 min on a 1 mile course, from a dead stop), but I could hang and move around the pack. The realization came to me during the race in a Navin R. Johnson sort of “I’ve figured something out so I’m shouting it” kinda way. Fortunately my breathing restricted this effect.
I also learned a bunch watching Sheerer, Frey, Huff, Young, and Dominguez during the race. I’m not going to share any of that with you though. You have to learn it for yourself!
So I ended the road season with a 43rd place finish (114 starters I think) and as a cat 2. As much as cyclocross is exciting, I’m still sad that the road season is closed. It hit me for the first time when I looked at my carbon racing wheels in the garage: I need to hang those up in the basement now. I guess it hadn’t occurred to me that I won’t even be using them for six months. Sad face.
Next up: Dogfish Hermann CX Weekend and an Embrocation Writeup (Review is too thorough for what I'm doing!)