Jim. Adam. Shawn. Roger. John… The list goes on until you hear your name. Logan. There it is, I can roll up to the line for my start. Am I in the right gear? Is my Garmin set right? How’s the tire pressure feel? Who’s up here with me? All these questions and more go through my head right before the official blows the whistle and we’re barreling off onto a course, nothing more than some plastic ribbon in a large field or park to denote where the course designer wants you to go.
Cyclocross is growing leaps and bounds, there’s no doubt. The bike industry is putting out more and more bikes and walking around Interbike this year I almost thought that Cyclocross was the only racing discipline at some points (no matter how much you may wish it doesn’t make it true). The A race in Dallas doesn’t reflect this. It’s the pinnacle of competition, you work your butt off getting your points, justifying your upgrade and hoping your local association agrees that you’ve made it. That it’s time for you to move up. And get your ass handed to you.
On a given weeknight (and even weekend) I toe the line with maybe 15-20 guys. A far cry from the 40-75 deep fields the lower categories bring in and lightyears from cross powerhouses like the PACNW or Chicago. But that’s what’s great about Cyclocross, the “lower” ranks are booming. I’m not pro/elite/uci whatever, I could race down; but there’s something about racing with the best in the city/state/country by racing as high as possible. Even with small fields the competition is stiff, the lines smoother, the starts harder it goes on. It’s faster, there’s the rub. By many accounts I’m fast, but as a bike racer I have flaws I need to correct. I’m too heavy, I don’t train enough, I work too much etc… The same things many have to contend with but that many of my competitors have figured out and which make the difference.
I’ve been racing bikes for just under 3 years, and I did my first bike ride as an adult in late 2011 at over 320lbs. Now at 210lbs I manage to average 12.7mph on a weekly technical dry course while the winner does 13.2. I can take the holeshot from the front line almost always but the edge I need to podium fades quickly. That extra bit is the game changer, the reason there’s a podium to stand on. My 12.7mph is about the same speed that the winner of the B races averages. This season I’m training up and I plan to go out for my Cat 2 upgrade next year; and yes, to do so I’ll race with the 3s and 4s and probably get on the sandbagger’s list again. For now I’ll keep having tons of fun trying my best to hang in the A race and get better as a racer. One of these days Texas might become one of the great CX powerhouses and here’s hoping the base we are building this year in the entry level categories leads to fierce A competition in the future.
What’s the point of this post? Not sure, but see you at the races!