Here is my race report and assessment from the Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 race!
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — A Bad Start
Isn’t it great when you have a day where nothing can seem to go wrong? When even if you try to mess something up it all comes our great? Well, this wasn’t one of those days for me. It started about 1:10 am in the middle of what was a good sleep. It was our offshore team from work calling me to inform me a program I am responsible for crashed. Three hours later I had orchestrated the recovery (I ended up calling our pro on this one) and for what it was worth tried to catch two hours of sleep.
After a restless two hours of trying to fall back to sleep I got up and made my breakfast. I put on my race gear and donned civvies over the top and bid my wife a good day and left for Oshkosh. I arrived checked in and readied the bike. I checked my rear tire which was flat the night before and still held air. I topped off that and the front tire and proceeded with my warmup and course inspection.
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — Course and Conditions
The course was nearly the same as last year with the only discernible difference being in the horse expo barn where instead of skimming the edges we were directed into the barn itself. This meant lots of sand. Last year the entrance to one of the barns featured wet sand but this year it was dry and fairly solid. This new sand was loose but something about it was not so tough. It was definitely more difficult than a solid surface but not like the sand at Wausau. I made an easy decision to ride the sand.
Conditions were dry and this had me thinking of the berm. I approached the berm and since it was inspection I was going to try and ride it, but another rider immediately in front of me dismounted his bike and so I did likewise. However, the rest of the berm I did take on and found it all rideable. At least I was able to get to the tippy top of the climbs and did not have to completely dismount my bike – good enough for me! Regardless, I planned to run up the first climb, ride the second, and runup the last climbs.
So I finished the course inspection and warmup and lined up. I was called up to the second row of starters in my group and I had given myself the goal of seriously attacking the hole shot. I put my bike into the gear I figured I would need for that and made myself ready.
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — Mistakes were Made (by me)
The whistle blew and I hit it with a determination. Oh snap, the guy in front of me was less so determined than I was so immediately I had to back off of my effort and start looking for an opening to pass him up. I got around him and settled in and with that setback my chase for hole shot glory was over. So I was going to make a grind of it and look to pick off stragglers.
My buddy Scott stared with us but in a different group settled in right behind me. It was Scott’s first time on a CX bike and first time in a CX race. Scott stayed tucked in behind me and then we got to the horse expo barn and the sand. It started off just fine but then we had to make a turn and I took the turn short and bogged down. So I dismounted and ran. An observation I made at Wausau flashed back in real life, I was moving every bit as fast as Scott and the other rider were riding! However, once they exited the barn they took off and I attempted to remount my bike a bit too soon and had troubles with that.
Despite the setback in the sand I got going again and knew if I kept up a hard effort I could very well pick off some stragglers. I stayed with my berm plan on the first lap and had no problems or complications with that. I then started to look forward to my first race meeting with the barriers. Well before the barriers, my rear wheel felt rough, I stopped and felt it and yes, it was FLAT. So, I had to run.
I finally start coming up to the finish line and I see the Recyclist tent and start yelling “rear flat! Rear flat!” and start angling towards them. The judges come out to meet me to remind me NEUTRAL SERVICE must address my issue and so I return to the course and meet Dave with Neff’s Cycle Service and in the end I get a loaner bike. On it I jump and had to focus between biking and fighting with the pedals to get snapped in.
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — Gaining Experience
Yeah, now I am not in competition mode anymore. I am now just working to avoid a DNF and to gain more experience. I rode the loaner bike and made my way around the first portion of the couse without problem despite not having my right foot snapped in the whole time. By the time I came around the neutral pit again Dave had the tube replaced and the tire back on and again I swapped bikes – ahh much better and off I went.
Yeah, it was tempting to quit but instead I plodded on and told myself I was going to climb as much of the berm as possible. However, I did not attempt the first climb again I ran up it, I regret not doing that. I know how to ride such monsters and in this case people were going straight up the right side and then traversing to the left to finish the climb. The strong riders were just going straight up the left, but that isn’t me (yet). After that, I succesfully climbed the rest of the berm and rode out the rest of the course and got a good classic barrier dismount and remount in.
In fact, the move I like the most in CX is a nice clean barrier hurdle. I like the way it feels when I get it all right and I love the way it looks when I watch others. All of it, the approach, the dismount, the pop of the bike, the jumps, and the remount. I beg all CX race organizers to always put up at least one single barrier widely separate from other features.
So, I came up on the finish line and Judge Al was waiting there and informed me my race was over. I got off of the bike and called it a race day. I should have signed up for the open-cat five and gave it all another shot, but I was determined to take lots of photos and be available for help the rest of the day.
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — Fading Like the Sunlight
I can tell my fitness is fading. On that first lap I show solid suffering with my heart rate reaching and holding in the upper 160 BPM range with some appearances above 170 bpm. This is a good confirmation I can put a hurt on myself and keep it going. However, my legs seem to be losing their ability to perform at the medium level I have come to expect. This is sensible I am riding very little and that which I am doing is on my trainer in the basement. I start up my off-season training program this week (on TrainerRoad.com) so what do I expect?
My handling had problems too, the problem in the sand wasn’t the only handling incident I had. I had problems on the last miniberm against the expo buildings in the early part of the race course. Nothing serious but I lost momentum and had to give a foot push off to get around the corner.
Obviously my biggest mess up was with basic bike mechanics. I should have replaced that leaky tube and I would have been racing the whole three laps instead of two.
Someday I will learn to put off putting off!
Sunnyview Cyclocross 2018 — Resisting Temptation
The temptation I face here is to be real down about this race to become discouraged. Fact is any day I race a bicycle I become encouraged. I fight small battles and make mistakes. I note the mistakes and vow to never repeat them, knowing full well which mistakes I will repeat and those I will not. I vow to train harder and smarter.
When we were done cleaning up the course I returned to my truck and got a stark reminder my day was actually good. I had multiple voicemails informing me a person near to me did not finish the day alive.