No, not *that* weekend update.
Went to All Hallows Cross in Hughesville, MD. It's halfway between Waldorf and LaPlata, in case you were wondering. I had a good result there last year despite repeated crashes and was looking forward to it. I wasn't thrilled about the course - last year's course was pedestrian except for a bit of nice singletrack. So it was a big surprise when I saw all the changes that Steve & the guys put in for this year. They took the boredom out of the front by making us go up the hill an extra time, and traverse it back down. They put in *a lot* of sand, which was cool because I've suddenly figured out how to ride sand. They also moved the famed corrugated drain pipe so that it breaks up the back really nicely. The end result was a sweet course that alternated between 30 seconds on the gas and 15 seconds of recovery, a perfect mix. And they thankfully kept the nice singletrack, which was pretty mild stuff by MTB standards but enough to bug pure roadies. The course was nice enough that I'm already committing mentally to doing that race again next year. Not quite a classic course, but a euro sort of course with a lot of flow... plus singletrack. As for the result... I got my derailer sucked into my rear wheel. That ended my day on lap 2.
Today was a bit better mechanically at the inaugural Kinder Kross. It was in Severna Park, just a handful of miles from my home. I would have ridden to the race but spent the morning instead snoozing, until a leisurely 7:45. We should have more local races... local to me. I got registered, got a good warmup, and caught Steve Wahl, who said I'd enjoy the course, it was up my alley - punchy.
He was right, in that the course punched me in the mouth, repeatedly. It was pretty good for a first time effort, but suffered a little disunity of purpose. The front half of the course was basically Hyattsville on a 5-7% grade - incessant, tight, 180 degree turns. Open those things up about 1-2 feet per turn and I think it becomes a flowy, sweet course. The back side featured a couple little sandy climbs, a root section strangely reminiscent of All Hallows, a fast section that you could catch huge air off of (and land in a plush sand pit) and a long, fast meadow path coupled to a long 1 turn finishing straight by a 270 degree turn around a tree.
Everything went okay from the start; I elbowed one of my friends out of the way when he tried to come up the inside right from the start - there was no room there or I'd have let him through, as it was the guy inside me was pushing over in jerky swerves, probably getting pushed himself. Up the long hill we went. A lot of people had problems making the turns. And around we went; only the power sections were a rest for me. I held the thread for may a lap and a half - at that point I was hyperventilating and knew that I was done for if I didn't ease up a hair. Three or four guys passed me in a clump - and then that was it. I was racing with 5 other guys for the rest of the race. Two of them passed me, one passed me then I got him on the last lap going uphill after the barriers, the other two guys faded. Final result: didn't get lapped, not even close to it, haven't a clue what my finish number was (somewhere in DFL's neighborhood, but not at the end of the street).
I sort of had an epiphany today after the race. I'm lucky to be racing at all this season after my back blew up last winter. Going in, I knew I hadn't formally trained much and that this would be a season of testing the back to see if it could hold up. For the most part it has; some days are a little tough - by "little" I mean it feels like a welterweight boxer is punching me in the lower back with a studded, cast iron glove. But mostly it's been just racing. I can't take it for granted.
Going into next year, I'm going to try really hard to focus and make a big leap. Shit, it is hard to be a 265 pound dude, throwing down huge watts, crushing a lot of people... until the road tips up. Get to low bodyfat ratio for me - around 225 - and there's going to be some hurtin' little people around these parts. But there's got to be some growth that occurs between now and then, and my luck has to hold out too. But this is huge upside, on the balance. Things can easily get better, right?
So the realization is this. I'm lucky, I'm sorta slow but have a lot of upside potential, and instead of dreading races, I should go into them with a good attitude. It's not all doom and gloom; some days there are some bright spots. Today's bright spots were pretty evident - I didn't break my bike (big one that I've blown 2 of the last 3 weeks) and I didn't ease up at all, keeping up an effort level that left my hands utterly numb and my face feeling cold until 10 minutes after we stopped racing. I couldn't have gone any harder even if I'd wanted to. That's a level of suffering I haven't achieved in a while, and it's a good sign that my body, and mind, are coming around.
What good things happened to you this weekend?