Yeah, I know, this is a week late, so fucking shoot me.
The night after the topsfield road race, I realized I had no clean team gear and had to do a load of wash. I threw in all the cycling clothing I could find, and started the machine. Just before I went to bed, I went to move it to the dryer, and found that the washing machine had not run. After fucking with it for about 20 minutes, I realized that the machine hadn't completely drained from the previous load.
The previous load - my wife decided to wash throw rugs.
The next morning, I woke up and, after mulling the situation over my coffee, figured that lint from the rugs may have clogged the drain filter. Hey, worth a shot, I didn't have to leave for the quad cross race for another two hours, so I took the machine apart. Sure enough, there was a large disgusting lump of lint in the filter, also included were:
1/2 dozen plastic candy wrappers
2 brassiere underwires
about 4 dollars in change, maybe 25 coins.
Well,I had a pair of cyclonauts 'cyclocross' shorts that I had never worn before, and my long-sleeved team jersey that were both clean. This was the kit I should have worn yesterday in the rain. Today was bright sunshine and upper '70s. Whatever....
Thinking the rain would have made the 'cross course a soupy mess, I threw my 'extreme condition' cross bike in the car. I considered throwing both bikes in, but I was running late, and said fuck it. Well, the course was dry. There were two soft spots, both very rideable. Hey, it aint the bike that's gonna keep me out of the top ten anyways.
They had all the masters 35 and older line up at the same time, but then broke us up into 35s, 45s, and 55s, and started us in 30 second intervals. Each field had around 20 guys, so they could have just let us go together,but this was ok too. I'm not the best 'crosser and this would be only the second race I've done in three years - yes, three years. The smaller starting group wouldn't be so congested and picking lines would be easier.
These little local cross races are like old home days. I'm racing alongside guys I raced cat 3/4 racs with in the '80s. We're all older, greyer, balder, some of us fatter. I can see what the attraction is with the jobwifehomecarkidslife set. We talk about old times, tell old jokes about old riders, and rag on the new kids.
Since the 45s group was small, us riders actually trying to be competitive strung out and just followed lines. None of the hard congestion one sees in the 3/4 fields and what we used to see in the masters before they started breaking us out.
My 'extreme condition' bike is actually a Giant XTC aluminum hardtail mtb with a rigid aluminum fork.The bike weighs in at 19 pounds - not too shabby for a cross bike. I'm running continental cross country tires 26x1.5 22/32/42 rings and an 11/21 8 speed cluster. Don't let that fool you, a 44x11 is a pretty tall gear. The issue is that it doesn't handle as tight as the 'cross bike - it has a longer wheelbase and more slack geometry. It's great when the course is a mess since it's way more stable in sloppy stuff, but this course was fast and technical. I could tell the difference in all the little switchbacks how the bike wasn't able to wrap around the corners as quick. It didn't really cost me anything, as I said it has more to do with my fitness and technique than the bike.
I passed a lot of guys, got passed by the leaders from the 55s, but didn't get lapped. I was happy with that considering that the 35s started 30 seconds ahead. I didn't crash, and only bobbled one dismount. I found the strongest section of the course for me were on the uphill sections. When I was in a position to pass people on the same lap, that's usually where it was. I passed a lot of guys that were being lapped, so that was on every section of the course. I can attribute some of that to the bike. That MTB climbs like it has a turbo charger. The geometry and stiffness of the frame just lends it to going up fast, and even though the cornering with this bike is sluggish, I was gaining on people in the corners. I guess that's going to happen when riding at the back, most of the guys are real novices or take it even less seriously than I do.
I never felt stressed or that I was riding over my limits, and ended up 14th out of 30 in the 45s. I'm happy with that since my 'cross training consists of 'cross races. Other than race day, my 'cross bike doesn't get ridden. I've had people throughout my racing 'career' tell me that I could be pretty good if I took it seriously, but there isn't much of anything I take seriously. Not even me.