As I rolled into the parking area for my first 'cross race of the season, I couldn't help feeling a little uncertain. A new town, first race of the season, no knowledge of the local racers...It was enough to make one feel a bit apprehensive. And then, a funny thing happened...Apparently, EVERYONE loves HUP United. Regardless of the racers or the team for which they ride, the spectators out on course almost universally cheered "Hup, hup, hup!"
Unfortunately, that was pretty much the highlight of my day. After spending 4 hours trying to convert my bike to a 1 x 10 yesterday, gluing Griffos onto some Ksyriums, and taking the day to prepare for the race, I'd simply failed in the most important preparation...Physical and mental.
I just wasn't prepared for the technical riding (lots of tight U-turns and off-camber stuff). Further, I hadn't done any true explosive burst work (I've been focusing on preparations for Clearwater). The result? When it came time to "go," I completely vapor-locked and wasn't mentally ready to push through the pain. When combined with my poor technical riding (requiring extra accelerations) and a poor decision to ride a 44-tooth front ring (I guess I'm really NOT Richard Groenendal), the result was a disappointing finish outside the top-20 (of 45-50 riders) in the 3/4 race.
It didn't help that the Tubulars flatted 10 minutes before the start of my race and I was caught swapping cassettes to a back-up wheelset in a hurry.
Race review (BLUF):
Physical--Not enough explosive power, but good sustained riding and aerobic engine (no surprise here).
Technical riding--Sucked. You gotta practice this stuff...
Mental--Good training day, but a poor racing day. I needed to bury myself to stay in contact early and I let the group go. The result was that I sat in no-man's land and couldn't push beyond my 40k TT pace. With that said, I had FUN. That's why I raced and I'm happy to have had the opportunity.
Equipment choice--Needs improvement. Time to simplify. A 40-tooth will be enough for me. Tubulars will likely not be used again. I simply didn't find the Griffos to hook up well (on a grassy, dry day?)...Wassup wit dat? If I can't get them to hook-up on this course, I have no confidence they'll run well in the mud or snow. I think I'll be back to tubeless running Stan's on a pair of Michelin Muds very soon.
Oh well...I'll be in Portland in a few weeks...Hopefully, my efforts there will end in a better result.