CX Nation racer Brij Kunine gives us an update of racing the 45+ A’s down in Monterey at the CCCX cyclocross series…..
CCCX#3 Manzanita Park –The View from Mid-Pack 9/27/15
My first race after a bit of a rough late-summer/ early fall. I love Manzanita Park–it has a long uphill paved S/F and several levels of baseball fields connected by dirt roads and paths with some nice rooty off-camber tree sections in-between. Started in the middle of the small field (16 riders). I got off to a decent start and managed to work my way up as Rob Meighan (Giant Berry) took the hole shot and hung on for what might have been a wire-to-wire impressive victory. I got up to about 5th but had no hope of catching Meighan or Mark Howland (Family Cycling) after he had worked his way up to second. I teamed up with Stacey Sell (Family) after he dropped his chain and then Tim Watson (Rock Lobster) who was riding strong and smooth. Each dropped me eventually with Tim ending up an impressive third. Despite being discarded by Tim and Stacey I was feeling happy to be at it again and stoked to be in sixth (Matt Shelton listed as riding for DFL this year was up there riding super well too). Last lap I could see my buddy in his first race back after his own wire-to-wire Rock Lobster Cup victory, Mark Acker (Nest) hunting me down with his wife Hiroko, brother, and folks cheering us both. I was pooped. Done for. I tried but I cramped on a tough u-pick ride or run I had done pretty well on until the final 500m. I tried to save a little to outsprint him but cramps don’t lie. Not only did he best me at the finish Chad Rosser (SJ Bike Club) worked me over too. Eighth it was.
CCCX#4 Toro Toro Toro 10/4/15
Another great venue and course. Toro Park, Salinas, has actual green grippy grass and the usual Central Coast dirt & hills. Nineteen of us towed the line and once again I had a third-row start. A missed pedal led to a nasty crash right off the line. I was lucky to get around it and heard there was another one shortly after. I settled in mid-pack again and made it around a bobble in the deepest duff section. The course features a really fast dirt section which leads up to a tough short climb. I gave it full gas and got up to sixth. To be honest, the more hectic the start and the more chaos the better I seem to do–must a size thing, I can get through the small holes. Anyhow Meighan was off the front again! And with a decent gap. Howie had a great start in second chasing hard, and Stacey, a Team Super Pro Racer from France (so I hear) Youenn Colin and I were third through sixth. There was a lot of jockeying around and riding through the back of the 35+ riders who had started thirty seconds in front of us. It was a really fast course and super windy. I had mentioned to Mark Acker and Eric Bustos (Giant Strawberry) that us little dudes can really draft. And I did. I felt much better after actually training the past week and was happy to sit on Stacey as he pulled me around and around. M. Colin was dropped and I was thinking I could try to work Stacey over if there were maybe two laps left. I looked at my watch, we had only been racing 22 min. B Plan–hang on as long as possible and don’t let Mark, Chad, Eric, etc., right behind catch me once dropped. Stacey finally forced me to the front, but I just slowed us down I was so dizzy in all of the grass turns. He took it up again while I concentrated on hanging on for dear life.
With two to go he made me pull for the better part of a lap. I felt a little better and got in a rhythm. There was a tree barrier which was ridable, but Stacey played it smart and moved in front of me to keep me from riding it while he dismounted. We entered the long sidewalk straightaway and sure enough he punched my ticket with a really big attack. I managed to go with him but after section with lots of grass turns we got back on the sidewalk and I had no answer for Effort #2. Bock Dickie (Buy Cell/Ibis) racing the 35+’s and back after two bad crashes was with us and easily bridged up to Stacey. (Brock and I roadSaturday and I knew he’d been through a lot with broken ribs, a hurt ankle, booty hematoma, etc.) One more lap with those dudes 5-10 seconds in front. I was really worried I’d get hosed again. I could see Chad and a dude named Travis Ma (Penn Velo) with a lot of fans cheering him right behind (although I didn’t know he was a 45+ at the time). But some previously passed 35+ racer caught back up to me and that bit of draft was all I needed to hold them off. Howie had gotten on Meighan’s wheel and almost beat him after Meighan clipped a pedal in the final barriers just before the finish. Those boys are riding really strong. Stacey was 18 seconds behind them and I was 8 behind him with each person just a few seconds back of the next. A wily fourth.