Wow, what a weekend of cyclocross racing in Cincinnati. Friday afternoon was the first of the three events that was held in Devou Park just over the Ohio River in Covington Kentucky, atop a big overlook looking into the city. They have held this race here for the past four years on a Friday and it's pretty well attended. The course was laid out pretty nicely, but all the rain the area got on Thursday and Thursday night made it very muddy (and with the hills on this course) very hard and challenging. I lined up with a field of 55 Cat 3 35-45+ riders and when the whistle blew we we're flying on the pavement start. Along with the normal first lap crashes and chaos due to everyone trying to be first to the tight corners etc. the racing was pretty good, everyone rode like they knew how. The field separated quite a bit and I was with a group of five when I got some course tape wrapped around my crank and had to dis-mount and untangle it....argh! Another group of two came up to me and we were working pretty good together when I gapped them and tried to catch on to a couple that fell off the group ahead of me. I was in the middle until the last lap and ended up crossing the line in 7th. in the 45+ and 12th. overall, not a bad start to the weekend I guess.
Saturday was and is my favorite course of the weekend held at Sunset Park in Middletown Ohio, North of Cincinnati. It's a smaller venue but very spectator friendly and more like an off-road crit course. Out of the three races this is the race that I typically do the worst at, I don't know why either because I ride it well.
Another long fast start on the pavement and more pandemonium once all 66 of us hit the switch-backs, with guys blasting into each other, running through the tape etc..,I know you guys are all good road racers but please learn a few bike handling skills if your going to race cross at this level........ I managed to hold it up and avoid any carnage and got with a group that was working well together. We stayed together for most of the race, exchanging positions and on the last lap it separated thinly and we all came across the line seconds apart, it was a fun race and we only had to deal with one muddy section. I finished 11th 45+ and 20th overall out of a 66 man field.. Not really what I would have liked but like I say for some reason I don't really do too good on this course.
Sunday was Harbin Park in Forest Hills, this is the big long course that always hurts because of the long slow slogs through the fields, the up-hill sand pit and the soggy, muddy grassy areas that makes this cross race so hard.
There were about 85 in our combined group and the start was furious, wow, this was the fastest start of the three races.. We hit the grass corner off of the pavement then the straight then the muddy corner and that's when all hell broke loose. I was somewhere near the front when the guys ahead of me lost control in the mud and all went down, I was on the right and the guy ahead of me got squirley and plowed head first into the tree, I tried to veer off to the left and got plowed into and from there it was like something you would see on TV where a car gets hit from behind on the freeway and cars just keep ramming each other from behind...it was nuts which takes me back to my previous comment about being a good road or crit racer but needing to learn some technical skills, there was a actually no reason for all of that mess.
Once we all got untangled, most of us ran that twisty off camber section, some tried to ride it only to slip back down and take more guys out that just got going again. I ran my way to the start of the long grass up-hill leading to the sand pit and by this time was totally anerobic, I re-mounted stood and tried to catch back on the the fragments of the lead group. I got to the sand, dis-mounted and ran the pit, re-mounted and caught back on to four guys right near the pits....good, I can sit in and re-cover a bit. I recovered some and started to attack just on the other side of the downhill sand pit which everyone rode nicely, I got a few places back going into the twisty tree area and another going through the mud to pavement 180 switch-back then re-covered some more when I looked back and saw the rider with me happy to recover too. We stayed together for a while and he attacked me and I was able to stay with him. By now another rider came up to us and we were together til the long grass climb to the finish. I rolled in 10th. 45+ and not sure overall as of yet. It was the hardest race of the weekend for sure but good racing minus the start