Race # 3, Monroe/Criswell Park - Another gorgeous day for a cross race. Being the 155lb weakling that I am, windswept grassy plains are not my preferred venue, but the course was 'fun' in a twisted cyclocross kind of way. I remember Bob posting last year that his highest average power rating (or some term close to that) of the season was on the Monroe course. This course is one that you need to keep pressure on the pedals all the time, there are very few spots to get any rest.
I have no excuse at the start this week, I was un-impeded and had lots of space that would have allowed me to move up, I'll just have to blame those damn guys at the front who were going to fast. From my vantage point it seems like the heads of state up front came to race and things got strung out pretty quickly. Before the first lap was over I had pretty much sorted into the position with those around me that I would be racing against. We had a pretty good race between myself, Lyle and Marshall for 10th place (though I had no clue at the time what place we were in). I think it was on the 4th lap Marshall and I were together and Lyle blew by us on the paved section at the start/finish; he got a nice gap but slid out and went down on the transition onto the gravel road and we re-passed him; I think that took a little wind out of his sails and he kind of dangled around behind us from that point on. On the next to last lap Marshall attacked on the lower paved section; it was a good move as it surprised me and he came by quickly so I couldn't get his wheel but I had a little gas left in the tank and was able to pull him back by the time we passed the restrooms. I stayed behind him from that point on going into the last lap as I wanted him to lead across the windy upper plain. My plan was to attack on the hill leading up to the second set of barriers but when we hit the first barriers Marshall went left so I went right to get a clear line and I came out of the barriers in front, not sure if this was Marshall's plan or he just had trouble on the re-mount or clipping in but I saw the chance to open a little gap so I went hard up the little incline afterwards and just kept the pressure on. I was able to hold this little gap to the finish for 10th.
Some thoughts on Monroe:
- One of my season goals was to eliminate my double hop on re-mounts, I think I only did it once (old habits die hard) Sunday and so am happy with my progress there. I've even noticed that I seem to gain an advantage through the barriers over a number of other riders and so I look at improvements there as free speed, since better technique doesn't cost you any more effort!
- I think I finished as well as I could for this race. There is quite a difference between me and the next highest placed rider right now. I don't think I can make that up this year; I'll have to get more serious next year to hang with any of those guys. That said I may pick one of the coming races and just blow myself up at the start and see how long I can hang with some of them.
- If you had asked me to describe the start and who I was behind for the first couple of turns I would have been wrong. Looking at the video of the start the camera shows me in a position different than I recalled. Funny how the mind works, or doesn't work.