2011 Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross

A year ago today, I did my one and only 2010 cyclocross race. So, it was fitting that I returned to the Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross to do my first cross race of 2011. I’m not sure if it will be my last, but if it is, it was a blast. I haven’t focused on cyclocross in several years, but it is still loads of fun. It’s hard to show up mid-season with triathlon and trail running fitness and expect to perform well in a 45 minute anaerobic effort. I hadn’t raced since the NipMuck Trail Marathon, exactly a month ago. Nevertheless, I registered for this race a few weeks ago so that I wouldn’t back out.

If there was ever a weekend to bag a race, it would have been this one. After having the week I had with all of the power outage challenges, I wasn’t too motivated and I was feeling pretty stressed out, but the glorious fall weather (quite a contrast from a week ago) was something I didn’t want to miss. We had a fantastic day at Look Park in Florence, Massachusetts. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Cycle-Smart is a two-day affair, so many of the cyclocrossers also raced yesterday. It was nice to see teammates Pat, Paul, Matt, and Wade. Wade and I did the 35+ age group race while the other three did the 45+.

Debbie and our kids joined me for the fun trip to Northampton and even the little ones got into the action. They had a whole series of kids races.

My race was enjoyable. I got a good start, but faded as I predicted. One setback came on the second lap when approaching the barriers. I unclipped my right leg and swung it over the top tube to dismount. In a split second, my left foot also came out of my pedal and then all I saw was blue sky as my bike went flying and I did a barrel roll about five feet before the barriers. I remounted, but my chain was off, so that cost me 10 or 15 spots that I never recovered. It didn’t matter. My primary goal was to finish and my secondary goal was to not get lapped. I achieved both. I wore my GPS watch and it recorded my heart rate. It was low, which showed that I didn’t have good fitness, but I was able to edge it up throughout the race. I covered just under 11 miles in 46 minutes, which is pretty good for a cross race, but I was well back of the leaders.

The course was wicked fast. There were only a few slick corners. The sand pit was rideable and so was the “run-up.” The only time you had to get off was at the barriers. I would have preferred a bit slower course for my first race of the year, but you take what you get. After the kids races, we watched the elite women and elite men. Katerina Nash won for the second day in the row. Luke Keough also did the “two-fer” in the men’s race. I love watching the top cyclocrossers. They are powerful and smooth.

We enjoyed the playgrounds of Look Park and then went to our favorite restaurant in Northampton. So, for a week that was full of problems, we ended it on a very positive note.

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