This weekend had been in my sites for a while. Well, at least since toward the end of summer when I really started thinking about cyclocross. This weekend the US Grand Prix of Cyclocross series was in Louisville KY (the announcer did at one point ask if anyone had ever heard of a "petite prix"- although the joke was lame I must admit that I had not). Louisville is about 3:45 from Champaign, so I figured it was my best chance to do some large scale cyclocross racing. Plus, with racing Saturday and Sunday it seemed like it would be worth the drive.
I drove up Friday afternoon, hoping to get to the "number presentation party". Unfortunately I did not remember the hour time change until about 5 minutes after I got into the car. So I got to Louisville too late and was left to find something to do with myself until the guys from St. Louis I was staying with showed up. I promptly found a bar... The first place was named O'Sheas and had a band named "Rocktimus Prime" playing. They were the presumably self proclaimed "best cover band in Louisville". I didn't stay long enough to confirm or deny this statement. I moved down the street to an establishment that was willing to sell me $1.50 PBR. Winner.
Seeing as I am a lowly Cat 4 cyclocross racer I had to race at 8:30am. We needed to get our numbers and timing chips by 7:30 (remember in 1 hour time change). I am not a morning person, I was not happy about this. The sun finally came up around 8am and I was beginning to get motivation to get on the bike. I had about 5 minutes of warming up before the race- not good.
The course was really muddy... like the muddiest I had seen a CX course. It was either sloppy, or sticky and always difficult to ride in. I got a bad start and probably slipped to like 50th or so... I felt terrible on the first lap, but slowly warmed up and picked some people off. Overall, I felt good and enjoyed myself. I ended up 31st out of 104. Not bad, but I really wasn't too happy with the result.
Luckily I was so exhausted that plenty of sleep was obtained Saturday night. Waking up Sunday was not quite as miserable. I once again didn't have the motivation to warm up in the dark. The race started and I felt like CRAP. I actually had a decent start... probably in the 30s somewhere. But it took all my will power not to lose a ton of places. I went through the start and noticed that they had shortened our race to 3 laps? Anyway, second lap I started actually passing some people and feeling a bit better. I actually felt good by the third lap, but was so disappointed in how the race had gone to this point I really just didn't care that much anymore. The highlight was deciding at the last minute I was going to ride the railroad tie runup. Unfortunately Casey didn't get a picture of me fucking that up. Much to my surprise, I finished 22nd... I thought I was much worse than the day before. Particularly since I wasn't really warmed up and not cramping until the third and final lap.
Basically I've got to do a better job of preparing myself. I feel like I'm not doing a good job of leaving it all on the course. Maybe not the night race this weekend (since I will be in costume and possibly won't be able to see) but my goal for Sunday is to at least make a go at being in the front at the start... We'll see.
So... As opposed to including all these sundries in the text, I decided I would include a list of things I learned this weekend.
- I remembered how little White Castle cheeseburgers resemble cheeseburgers, or really food in general
- If you are a hipstery dude with a Chrome bag on a fixie with a cycling cap kinda sideways, it doesn't matter if the two cars behind you are full of cyclists (some of whom own chrome bags) you will incite road rage in them if you ride at 12 miles an hour taking up the whole lane with your douchey friend.
- The Stanley USGP thermos really does keep your coffee hot for 6 hours... impressive.
- Horny goat weed is not on the WADA list of banned substances, yet according to advertisements "increases circulation".
- Mexican restaurants attached to Best Westerns by airports are, generally speaking, a bad idea... Even if Ernesto sounds like a reputable gentleman.
- "Rocktimus Prime" is Louisville's premier cover band... and a lot of their following is composed of "Dudes" and larger than average women.
- You are capable of finding free wireless internet pretty much anywhere... including parks in Louisville
- Seeing pros race their bikes is AWESOME, and very humbling... Its shocking how much more accessible they are in CX than any other type of biking (or sport in general)