Cross season has finally started, with the first race in the area at Cannonsburg Ski Area last Friday night. I’d ridden my cross bike all of a couple hundred yards since April, so needless to say, there was a little rust to shake off. I got there early, watched the “C” race while drinking a beer and trying to not to freeze in the cold rain that suddenly started falling from the sky. But it turned out to be the perfect temperature once I actually started racing and got warmed up. Also, maybe beer isn’t the best pre-race drink.
The course that was drawn up had quite a variety of terrain, from going straight up the ski hill, then straight down the ski hill, to off camber sandy turns, to a few barriers on the back half of the course that was PITCH BLACK by the end of the race because there were no lights over there, to even a stream crossing with 4 foot high banks on each side that got progressively muddier and muddier:
But overall I don’t think it was too technical, which is good, because I’m much better on the pure power sections of courses. The first lap was crowded as everyone tried to get to the stream crossing first to avoid being held up, but I was squarely in the back third of the pack anyway, because I can’t sprint off the line. Also, on the fastest part of the lap near the finish line, the guy in front of me hit a bump and lost control of his bike and bit it HARD. I narrowly maneuvered around him as he was still sliding/tumbling to a stop, and I think he was banged up pretty badly. He certainly didn’t get back on his bike and finish the race. After the first lap, the pack spread out and I never really had to fight for a line, but it did take me half the race to actually figure out the cleanest lines.
Over the rest of the race, I continually passed more and more people as they all got tired and my endurance only made me stronger. I was having a blast, even if my hands and arms were ready to quit trying to hang onto the handlebars over all the rough bumps. I took a beer hand up on the last lap, and also somehow cut my hand at some point, leading to a bloody knuckle. I finished somewhere in the middle of the pack, with muddy and sandy legs, and a huge smile on my face.