It hasn't been the most stellar season for SRAM Factory team racers, with a mixture of injuries and work responsibilities keeping us from racing - and blogging - as much as we might have liked. I hadn't raced (or done any real training) since October before the Midwest Regional CX Championships in Chicago last Sunday. I was motivated to get out there again by the 8 inches of snow that fell the day before. That always makes racing extra exciting and fun, especially on a tricky and hilly course like we had at Dan Ryan Woods. I raced the 35+ event (though my "cyclocross racing age" is 45) early Sunday morning and the Pro/1/2 race a few hours later. In both cases, I started in the last row but rode far better than expected, finishing 3rd in the master's race and 9th in the very competitive Pro/1/2 race.
Today, I did the Afterglow races in Chicago. I decided to ride to the races despite the light rain and temperatures just above freezing, and despite the sure knowledge that I would be a cold, muddy, exhausted mess when it was time to ride home... We had a great course which would have been tricky even had it been dry. The classic CX conditions of snow, slush, mud, sand, and light rain made it an ideal way to end the season (and do some punishing product testing). First up was the master's race, where I got a slow start but worked my way up to the front and finally passed Tim Boundy for the lead with a little over a lap to go. After standing around shivering for an hour, it was time for the Pro/1/2/3 race. I had a good start but began loosing ground almost right away. Though these are usually conditions I thrive in, my lack of training and fitness over the past many weeks (and to be honest, the whole year) caught up with me and I lost two or three more spots every lap to finish in the bottom half (or bottom third?) of the field. Still, it was fun, challenging, good skills training, and great product testing! I put on my jacket and backpack and headed home on my bike almost right away, before I had a chance to get too cold. OF COURSE I got a flat on my rear tubular on the way home, and the tire sealant I had with me was a couple of years old and not very effective. After stopping to pump up the tire about twenty times, I finally made it home safe and sound but chilled to the bone!
I don't have any pictures to share but I guess there will be some good ones posted here before long.
So not the CX season I had hoped for, but at least I finished up with four very technically challenging and super fun races in a single week. I hope to be back with renewed focus (and better fitness) next year!