Yesterday, I stunk it up at the Kings International CX race in Mason. God, was it fun...
I had signed up for 2 races: the Mens Cat 4 going off at 9:45 (the juniors were on the course at the same time) and then at 10:30, the BMI Open (minimum lbs/inch of body height=2.75).
The Cat 4 race was so much fun...it was my first race in a while and the first of the year. I was incredibly excited and quite aprehensive. In a typical year, as the season moves from the warmth of late August/early September through the cool of October into the cold of late November and early December, my body has a chance to adapt. The result is being able to race in the cold in a light base layer, my summer kit , and some embrocation. I hadn't raced much and as a result the aclimation wasn't there. Race time temp was in the low 20's with snow on the ground. When I kitted up at the race and stepped outside, I started shivering. I rolled into staging just as call ups were ending and was still cold. Then the whistle blew, the bike got going, and I was no longer cold.
The race I was interested in was the BMI Open. The Cat 4 would be my pre ride and warm up. I spent the race looking for the best lines and seeing where I would need to dismount and what I could ride. After 1 lap, it was clear that the only places I had to dismount were the stairs/run up through the Heckle Zone, the barriers, and a narrow turn up a notch leading on to the paved stretch to the finish line. There were a couple other places where, if I didn't take the right line, I would slide to a point that would require stopping, and Fred Flinstoneing it to a point where I could start riding again.
One feature of Kingswood Park that gets used in every race there is a double humped hill called the Camel. It can be nastier than all get out. It can also be a lot of fun. On my first lap, I was following a little girl from Red Zone cycling through the Camel. On one particularly nasty section, an off camber, downhill into a 180 deg turn, she took the line I wanted. She crashed and I had to slide down to the snow fence to get around her. I should have paid attention.
On my second lap, there was no one in front of me when I got to that nasty section of the Camel. I took the line I wanted. Probably, it wasn't the best of decisions.
Later on, as I made my way through the Heckle Zone for the second time, I got leied.
At least one junior finished behind me. Even though we weren't racing against each other, I view it as I kicked somebody's butt. Sorry, kiddo, I need victories when I can get them.
After the Cat 4 race, I went into the clubhouse, had a teammate pin on my new bib number (different race, different number), my g/f felt my shoulder and said, "Uh, something doesn't feel right," (what does she know? she's only been a nurse for 35 years...) and headed to staging. After the Cat 3's were called up, the BMI Open was called up. By virtue of the highest BMI, I got my only first call up of my career. That's like getting the pole position in NASCAR. Once we started, I had an idea I might be a DNF. I just couldn't go fast. I had the legs. I had the lungs. I didn't have the bike handling. At the Camel, I had to walk large sections that I had ridden in the Cat 4 race. Coming out of the Camel was a long down hill stretch into a fast section leading into a flyover. The flyover was not in play during the Cat 4 race, but was in play for us. As I approached it, I realized that my inability to control the bike spelled broken neck, so I bailed and headed to medical. My g/f met me, and when the doc told me I had at least a grade 1 shoulder separation, looked at me with that "TOLD YOU SO" look that only those who don't understand can muster.
It was off to the urgent care for xrays, then back to the race to watch some of the best cx racers in the world (current world champ Niels Albert and the most of the U.S. World Championship team). Way cool. All in all, the day was a stunning success. Can't wait for the 2013 to begin.