First race of the season is always an interesting affair. You leave the house with some butterflies and come home with open wounds. In between there is lots of suffering, forgotten equipment and questions. I have a list of things that I bring to a race. Really pro you know. I even laminated it. The only problem is I never look at the list and then I forget a bunch of stuff. It might take me a few weeks before I get it right; hopefully it will happen before the end of the season.
My first race was in the Sacramento series. They keep it low key and fun, which is a nice way to start the season, plus it was a new course so I had to check it out. Held at Lagoon Valley Park in Vacaville this was going be typical early season California cross – hot and dry – very uncrosslike. I set up the tent, which was needed in this heat and watched the chaos and suffering of the early races. It is great seeing people that I haven’t seen in at least a year and some others who were in my clinics, then there is coaching clients. It’s very social. Unlike road racing we actually talk to other people at cross races. It’s a novel concept. I just hope to remember everybody’s name.
Pre-riding the course gave me my first “uh-oh” moment of the year. There was a hill and I was way over geared with my 44 tooth single chain ring in the front. Usually I will have my pit bike set up with a double chain ring for these such occasions. But typical of early season follies I did not have the bike build up yet. I had my mountain bike with me, but with the majority of the course being flat I chose not to use it.
These races are 60 minutes long and I have always taken a water bottle. Heat is never in short supply in Northern California. I got the hole shot at the start and lead the way up the hill. Grinding up to the top while other were spinning (I was cursing them) my lungs were on fire and it was only the first lap. One guy passed me and just fired down the decent. Wow, a little demoralized I just settled in and knew I wasn’t going to catch him. Then my nemesis Jeff Mitchell passed me like I was standing still and I knew my day was going to be about surviving. Fast forward 60 minutes and the race was over. That was the high point for me. Chalk it up to a good training day and getting back into the swing of things. Hopefully it turns around for me when we hit the confines of Candlestick Park next weekend. Come on legs…wake up! BTW…still coughing up dust. Winter can come at any time now.
Video of the first lap up the hill – feeling good but not for long.