Last night, I rode my second The Night Weasels Cometh cyclocross race in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. The entire experience was a lesson in how not to prepare for a race. I had a crazy 24 hours that began after a full day of work on Tuesday. After an evening meeting, I drove from Hartford , Connecticut to Boston, Massachusetts. I camped at my favorite Hampton Inn in Peabody. I rose early (real early) yesterday morning and headed for Logan Airport. I flew from BOS to CVG. I rented a car and drove from Kentucky to Cincinnati, Ohio to visit a key customer.
After the 90 minute presentation, I grabbed lunch, returned the car, and flew back to Boston. I drove to Shrewsbury, but was mired in horrible traffic for two hours. I tried every back road I knew in east-central Mass and was in danger of being late for the race. I phoned teammate Art Roti and he secured my number before they gave away my spot on the grid. I got to Ski Ward at 8:05 P.M. with 25 minutes to spare before the 8:30 P.M. start. I changed in the parking lot, pinned my number, did a few laps of the parking lot and lined up. I raced, had a beer, and then decamped to the Hampton Inn for a little rest before another day of work. This is not how you work to a peak and then taper, but cross season is the anti-triathlon season for me. No rules. No peaks. No taper. No rest. Yes beer.
The race was a blast. The course was bone dry, unlike 2012 when it was sopping wet. The late flight forced me to race out of my normal category and go up against the Pro’s and Elites, which was ugly for this 40+ rider. The days of keeping up with those guys are long gone. Some of them probably had their feet up all day waiting to crush the lesser mortals on the hilly parcours. I was lined up in the 38th spot and finished 41st, so the www.crossresults.com algorithm is working…at least for me.
No one was in danger of losing the holeshot to me. I started conservatively and finished conservatively! I had a few battles with other riders in the so-called “race within a race” but was well back. I got lapped with about 1.25 laps to go. Only 4 of 20 40+ riders stayed on the lead lap, proving that cross is getting faster while we are getting older. Justin Lindine was the first one by me and he went on to win. He was absolutely flying. I pessimistically chided myself for being “out of shape” and then reminded myself about my build up to this Wednesday Night World Championship of the Holy Week of Cyclocross. In addition to the insane travel schedule, the race was only three days after the Vermont 50, where my whole body (not just my legs) took an absolute hammering. How quickly one forgets!
So, I’ve learned to not be so hard on myself. 10 or so other riders lapped me on my last lap and I finished after 54 or so minutes of suffering. I didn’t have any trouble with the darkness. There was artificial light in the key spots. The hill was my challenge. I was a bit pokey getting around the back side of the course. The fans were great and it was cool to be in the marquis race. Every time I rode by the beer garden, I felt the motivation and my cadence increased. I dropped my chain once, bobbled on a barrier, and slipped on the stair barriers once, taking a shot to the face with my own stem. The collision drew some blood from my nose. Hopefully it shows in the photos! I’ll have something to remember. When I finally get a respite from the family/work/volunteer/ride bullet train I’m on right now I’ll find my form and move up a few spots in these races. Lookout Lindine!