I raced my first cyclocross at Lapham peak in Delefield. I was a little nervous when I first got there. Luckily, after getting my number and things together I met Chris and Billy who were really friendly and told me about the course and what to expect. I also ran into some guys from Mad City Velo who I know from the practices and a few other friends. Mad City Velo and Crono Metro were very well represented at the race. Also saw some IS Corp and Geargrinder.
Although I planned to ride the course prior to race start, time ran out and instead I chose to run it as a warmup. The course is scenic with several hills on the corners and a big low spot in the middle. Most of the turns were fine to take with speed except the a few spots on the back end made especially tight and the turn at the start which was about 180.
The start was congested with about 60 riders next to each other and all having to thin out within about a half block and then make a right corner. A few people seemed nervous and quiet before the start and you could see on some people's faces they were a little scared. I knew the right side was really bumpy (when we were standing around a rider endoed and everyone started clapping)so I tried to stay left as much as possible.
Although it wasn't too cold, the combination of nerves and not moving for the 10 mintutes or so before the start was making me shiver. The race started and the front hammered. My main goal was to get clipped in and not slow anyone up behind me. It worked. I did get to bump one guy on my ride who sort of swerved into me-he didn't seem to mind.
Although the front went off fast, the rest of us were forced to start slow because of the narrow path ahead. We had decent speed going up the first hill to the barriers when a group of about 4 guys all went down pretty much blocking the path. At the same time I saw them all falling into eachother I heard "down, down, down.!" We all clipped out, ran by them jumped the barriers and started going hard again. It was a fun start and got my heart pumping.
I settled into a small group and got going. Passing and cyclocross are so fun because you have to really pay attention and are always on edge. One thing I found is that a lot of single riders ahead will slow up when not drafting and you can burst by them on the straight sections. This was especially fun as you go off the main dirt rut and really have no idea what is on the ground ahead of you.
As time went by, I continued passing a few riders per lap and didn't get passed by any (not too hard when you start fairly far back in the beginning). The hill didn't seem to bad, our cat 4 group would ride the hill then take a right over a few bumps and everyone I saw would clip out and run the steep section. Don't know if the leaders in cat 4 rode it but in cat 3 a lot of guys were riding the whole hill.
Interestingly, the hill feels fine the 1st lap, then slightly hard, then like someone is tugging on your jersey and finally I got the piano on my back. After hearing last lap, I wanted to pass one more rider slightly up ahead. I got on his wheel in the straight fast section before the hill and sat and rested planning on passing him up the hill. Just as we started climbing he stoppped (might have slipped out of pedal) which forced me to stop. Instead of clipping back in, I decided to run the whole hill. Stupid. Felt very slow at top.
After top, got passed by UWM rider. After nice downhill pulled up on left and we were racing. He didn't want me to pass and we were speeding alongside each other both pedaling hard and going into a turn. I managed to pull ahead and in and coasted down the hill to start and 180 turn. I knew he was behind me and gunning for me. Got to uphill barrier and could barely get my thighs off the ground. The barriers were quite high and by the last lap were tough. UWM rider passes me on barrier and takes off to be me at the finish. I came in feeling good but noticed my lungs and throat were burning hot for about 15 mins after stopping. UWM guy was cool and commented that he saw me get shafted by guy stopping in front of me on hill.
Race was so much fun. I loved every part. Ended up 39 of 58 or so. O.k. for first race but could have done better-I learned some good tips in this race so watch out Cat 4's.
Cyclocross is awesome because there is always someone just ahead to catch and pass or someone coming for you and the constant turns and hills keep you on your toes. Felt like I was bouncing and skidding around the whole race especially on the fast sections. Hope to do many more races and hope to move up in place! Got some nice pics of Cat 3 race that went off after mine.