Grafton Pumpkin Cyclocross 2018 — Race Report
Another race day and as usual I was awake before my alarm went off. I got up and started with the usual business of getting myself ready to leave. I had packed my bike, my shoes, helmet, kit, number, and all of the other sundry equipment one needs for bike racing (you know, POV camera, head unit, tools, and so on). I ran through my mental checklist and all points were checked off. I had breakfast got dressed up and got in the truck for the short drive to Neenah to pick up my fellow Diablo Adam.
I found Adam’s house, parked, and opened up the back of my rig and immediately noticed I had no front wheel! Apparently, that is not on my list and immediately I knew right where it was but was going to have go without and hope for a miracle. Visions of walking around with a sign saying “I need a miracle, front thru-axel disc brake CX wheel for the 45+ 4/5 race please”. Adam put a beg out on Facebook and I resigned myself to being a DNS and a photgrapher for the day. Fortunately, upon arrival Adam remembered and reminded me of the Neff Cycle Service neutral support and they came through for me! Thanks!
Grafton Pumpkin Cyclocross 2018 — A Big Field
When I pre-registered there were just a handful of registrants in my race. Still, being near the major population centers of Wisconsin I figured I would be in a big field and sure enough I was. The hassle with my front wheel meant I had no time to warm up or pre-ride the couse so Adam found me and provided me with a report, obviously it was helpful but I really needed to see the course first hand. Heck, I had no idea where the hole shot ended. The result is I took it easy on the first lap as I was essentially warming up and inspecting the course. What did that inspection find? A fun course with no barriers, but plenty of mud some fun off camber and some decent climbs. On that first lap I ran up climbs quite a bit but as the race progressed I rode more and more of them.
Again, with the big field and despite being off at the back of the start’s long tail I found another to duel with. Again, I worked to catch him and I did and then in the long off camber section he had a hard time holding onto his line and was sliding downards into my line. I stayed behind him and it was not even close. He profusely apologized for the situation but I simply said “This is CX” and carried on. I eventually passed him up (but it wasn’t the last time I had to pass him) and found myself in another tricksy section and Adam and Alex were watching and Adam yelled to me “Dismount at the last fencepost”! Who am I to argue and so I did and it was apparent as to why, a short nasty runup was awaiting around the corner. On the left side were roots and rocks to provide footing but I also found the roots could possibly snag the bike. There was one more tricksy section but it was a small sharp muddy climb even on the first lap it was not intimidating. Then came time to flash a big grin to the race officials and so started my second lap.
Grafton Pumpkin Cyclocross 2018 — Settling In
Now that I had seen the course and had competition I picked up the effort and kept my focus on clean riding. However, it was not risk free riding – I started to ride hills I had previously run up, I rode a bit further up other hills before dismounting. My buddy appeared again and passed me, I eventually found myself in a position to get that back and went to his left to pass him and he started to drift to the left. I don’t suspect it was intentional, but I simply backed off and then went around his right. I don’t recall how many other times we traded positions, but again like at Wausau there came a point where he simply vanished back to my rear. However, I know sometimes people in back of you are just stealthy and not truly dropped so I continued to push on.
I flashed my grin to a ringing bell and started my final lap. I had a bit more problems getting through the mud this time and dismounted to finish off the mud and carried on – still going hard as I found it is wise to never assume that guy you dropped is truly done. People pre-riding for the next race eventually caught up to me and they were a bit hesitant in passing me but eventually they did.
Grafton Pumpkin Cyclocross 2018 — Crashing but not Burning
I finally saw the end of the race coming up and hit that last little muddy kicker and I washed out on it and smeared the tree on the way down to the ground. I got up and finished my race again, smiling to the officials.
I then rinsed my bike off and returned the wheel to Neff. I then changed and got my camera out and started photographing the race. Adam’s race went well and he finished 11th in his race. I did not finish so well but my learning continues and yes I need to continue and develop my skills and cycling fitness. I will be back!