So I rode the 29'er in the C race on Sunday. As local sports radio talk guy Steve Czaban would say, sarcastically, "so how's that workin' out for you?" The course was beautiful, almost Granogue-esque in its diversity of surfaces and gradients. After last week's snowstorm it rained, so the ground was soft, the sand pit turned hard pretty quick, and a substantial chunk of the course turned into Belgian-style slop atop sticky muck. The race went well enough, I was tragically undergeared for it, and the fat 700x2.1" tires were totally the wrong choice for the mud. While the MTB was stable, sticking well until it finally broke traction (then going into lurid, 2-3 foot power slides) it was also basically glued to the ground, so that each revolution of the wheel made a sucking noise. Yep, it hooked up too well and it was actually harder pedaling in the dirt flats than uphill. Besides slowing me down on uphills and making the considerable climbing comfortable and tedious, the undergearing also eliminated the two real advantages I have - plummeting down hills and powering across grass flats and false flats. Oh well, my fault, I'm the one who decided to not take things too seriously. So I rode along near the back, got beat by a bunch of people who only see my ass at the start and when I'm drinking beer at the finish, got outsprinted by James from Proteus Bikes, and then tried to strap up into the geared bike for the Masters 2-3-4 race, which started 6-7 minutes later. I got off the startline alright but definitely lacked pop. On the powerline prologue, I was sagging backwards pretty quick, which was a desperately bad thing because it was a false flat (the kind of place I usually crush) and it was clear my legs had *nothing* left. I hung in there, not DFL but back with a pod of 6-7 guys challenging for DFL, and tried to get a rhythm. No firkin' way, Kemo Sabe. My left cankle started getting a crampy feeling, along with my left wrist, as soon as we got off the prologue. Meanwhile, an asthma attack that had started in the first race pretty much continued. Knowing that it was only going downhill from there - not downhill as in an easy ride, but downhill as in that skier from the opening credits of Wide World of Sports - I packed it in after a lap. Maybe next year I'll try the C-B combo, which would give me an hour of recovery between races. But C-B master? No way, not this year, not in my condition. Much to his credit, some big guy from LSV did just that. Much to his credit, it appeared he would be marginally faster than me - i.e. ten yards ahead of me - in both races. Final verdict of the cross season? I suck. I need to lose 40 pounds and learn how to ride better. I'm okay with that though.
Meanwhile, the Bobbsey Twins knocked out another podium. Here's a shot of them finishing 1-2:
Whoops. I'm sorry. That's a photo of a couple enormous sandbags. I wonder how that got in there? Anyhow, here's a shot of Nystrom and Fatticus finishing 1-2 after leading wire to wire, by a long, long way:
Hell of a performance guys, your whole season was impressive as shit. Now could you get off the short bus please? Us kids in the hockey helmets are tired of getting picked on.
Just kidding. I'm not competitive in 3-4 yet, so the Higher Echelon Alleged Sandbaggery doesn't bug me that much. A stout handful of guys in the C's, who seem to have hit the mandatory upgrade point sometime in October between MABRA, MAC, and non-series races do sort of bug me. Not really for my own sake right now. Next year that shit will really bug me, I hope to be in points contention, but for now I'm bugged on behalf of all the guys who finished 5-6 places out of points contention between October and this week. I have a teammate in that bin and why he's not fuming about it is beyond me. Given the difficulty of picking up upgrade points for those guys "just out of the points," a rider's failure to responsibly vacate the really short bus (the C/4 race) after hitting the mandatory upgrade point sticks it to people who, under the rules, should be earning points toward their upgrades. No, not me, but my teammate and some other friends who deserve to be going into next year with some points in the pocket. Yep, there's some fault to be borne by various sanctioning bodies who don't pay attention to 'cross and consider it subsidiary to roadracing (thus failing to tally upgrade points from week to week), but have some humility folks and understand that there's honor to be had in fighting for 30th, sometimes maybe there's more honor in that than in putting 5 minutes on the rest of the Cat 4 field and competing with two buddies - especially when you'd be competitive in the B's. Sorry to be a dick about it ad keep banging the drum but the truth hurts and somebody needs to say it. And if the fields grow again next year like they did this year, we may see 100+ rider fields in the Cs, a small handful of guys taking all the points all year, and 90 riders interested in progressing just sort of screwed. It's a different situation for really strong riders who need upgrade points, but if you aren't contending for upgrade points, or a jersey, move on up with the Jeffersons people.
So that's it for the 'Cross season. Now that I've pissed everybody off, thanks for racing, thanks for cheering and giving me something to cheer about, thanks for sharing a Duvel afterward and for being good sports on and off the course. See y'all on the road, at Patapsco, or wherever. Y'all made it a great season for me, and I hope for yourselves. Thanks for that, I'll keep the memories of my first real racing campaign forever and treasure them - even the arguments over what constitutes sandbagging, whether it's proper to pull riders in various states of DFL, and so forth. Doesn't mean I'm not going to try to kick your ass next fall, I'm just saying thanks, it's been a great ride, I can only hope I've helped make it fun for you too.
See ya at Charm City.