The past weekend Becca and I headed north to San Luis Obispo. It’s about 170 miles up the coast. A smallish college town. With Becca only a week away from Ironman Arizona she would have the opportunity to train with some of the girls on the Coeur Team and I would be racing Cyclocross on both days. The plan was two nights of camping and four races over the two days.
We loaded up the car and headed out on Friday getting there in reasonable time and just about managing to pitch the tent, (for the first time!) before it got dark.
We had a pretty low key Friday night, Becca rustled up a delicious camp fire dinner and s’mores and it was all washed down with some local beer! The next day Becca headed out on her bike with her team mates.
That left me to pick up my number, visit the pits, gear up and get ready for the first race of the day. I warmed up on my trainer for 15 minutes and then rode from the camp site to the course which was less than a mile. From there I slipped onto the course and rode one practice lap. The course was only 1.6 miles and could be broken down into clear halves, the bumpy bit and the less bumpy bit.
Both halves were twisty enough to get you dizzy and had a pair of hurdles and a run up thrown in for good measure. The longest stretch of course in a straight-line was around a tenth of a mile!
Race #1; Men’s B
As with other races the start line was grouped into two races; Men’s B and Master’s 45+. Unlike other races this was a UCI sanctioned event and as such we were given the start line instructions as laid out by the UCI. This was pretty instructional as it was well articulated and announced. The first group set off and within the next minute we were underway. To be honest I was caught on my toes and by the time I was off the other riders were up the road! Another lesson learned the hard way! I settled in to the ride with my ongoing season goal of not being lapped and familiarizing myself with the course at speed. As expected it took some time to settle in but after a couple of laps I felt comfortable, well as comfortable as I could given the course. I was passed in my fourth lap. In case you are thinking I was sandbagging, here’s my HR data. I have to go on HR as I do not have a PM on my CX bike yet.
Lesson of the Race. Pay attention at the start line!
Race #2; Beginner C
My People! But a mix of Cat 3, 4 and 5! Trust me, I am a 5…maybe even a 6 (a’la Twin Six)! This was the afternoon race and I had a chance to refuel and recover from the morning. Becca was back from her ride and was able to get some photos of me. This went badly wrong within the first half a mile. I was running my tubeless tires soft to soak up the bumps. I went around a corner too fast and rolled the tire “burping” the air out of it and (unknown to me) sucking into the seal an fair amount of grass, dirt and sand. I crashed! More shock than pain rolled over me and so I was back on my feet in quick time. I remounted and then did exactly the same thing again at the next turn and crashed again. At this point I picked up the bike and ran. I had roughly a quarter mile to the pits. Here I used the C02 to get some air back in. It was a fruitless recovery as the seal had blown on the tubeless tires and they would not hold any air! I gingerly rode the next half of the course back to the pits and with some fumbling changed out the wheel to a regular cincher with tube and probably a bit too much air as I was left bumping out of my saddle into the air for the next three laps. With no hope of regaining the main group I rode out the rest of the race at a decent pace but not before the crowd pleasing stop to consume the ever present beer hand up. In the end I was piped at the line following a sprint finish! As before HR was key, did someone order a large plate of Threshold with a side of Anaerobic!
Lesson of the Race. Going all out is a recipe for disaster!
After this race I got my tubeless tire fixed, it cost me the price of a beer! That night we headed into town, pizza and beer! Another night in the tent followed by pancakes for breakfast!
Race #3; Single Speed Men’s B
My bike is geared although I have no idea why as I spend most of my time in only 2 or 3 of them! That said single speed presented a new challenge and to eliminate the temptation to shift my shifters were cable tied. This works best with SRAM and I ride Shimano so I could shift down but not up! Of the four races this was probably the best in terms of using my (limited) skills. Without the option of shifting up and down. This forced me into better lines, smoother pedaling and an overall consistent approach in by the end of the race I would have my fastest lap time! And yes I crashed again! With hindsight I was slightly under-geared and could have gone down one maybe two!
Lesson of the Race. Smooth is fast!
Race#4; Master’s B 45+
Don’t be put off by the title of Master’s these are good guys that have just gotten a bit old! This was the opportunity to put into practice all the lessons learned and pretty much I did. I was in the mix at the sprint which meant I was listening for the whistle! I lost out positioning on the bumpy section. Smoother lines and no technical issues meant I could just about fend off being lapped and I literally got five laps in despite being told by the UCI official that my last one would not count (6@$7@rd!). It was my best overall performance of the weekend where everything came together.
Lesson of the Race. Pull it altogether!
In the end my showings were nothing to write home about I was +1 lap in all my events and as expected humbled by the ability, skills and fitness of the other racers! In the three race weekends I have been to this was by far the more challenging course. The terrain was crazy bumpy and that combined with the overall twistiness of it made it a challenge for everyone! As noted by the lessons from each race it’s a learning curve, every course presents its challenges. For sure it is not easy but it is a ton of fun and I am having a blast despite feeling completely beaten up come Monday morning.
I have some video and will post at a later date.
As with Krosstoberfest and Crossitas at Casitas the event was well run and well supported. The crowds, heckling and handups make for a great atmosphere. If you get a chance I highly recommend attending.
Becca did, as always, a great job of cheering and took all the race photo’s you see here! Her Couer Team-mate got this one below. It’s the perfect shot of how much she does to support my craziness!
This weekend we are off to Arizona for Becca’s Ironman She has been stacking the hay in the barn all summer and now it’s time to burn that sucker down!