Thanks to Mike Dawson for the killer photo!
After the horrific race at Faust Park last weekend, I was very close to giving up on cyclocross racing, AGAIN. I mean, really, I give up on it every year. I start the 'cross racing season with all good intentions, and then bail on it because...well...I suck. I have never mastered the sport. I can't insult all of the good 'cross racers by saying that I have put in the time to be good at it, because I haven't. I just expect it to be like mountain biking and it's not. I don't put in the time, my good intentions get shoved down my throat, and I sell the 'cross bike and quit for the season. In my defense, the season is only 7 or 8 weeks, so it's not like I'm giving up an enormous chunk of racing, but it is extremely helpful to race 'cross because it lengthens the racing season, effectively shortening the down time winter enforces upon us. If you stop racing in Missouri when the MTB racing season ends (most of the time mid-October) then there is a 4-5 month wait to race again.
So, every year, I start racing the Bubba Series and every year i quit.
I didn't exactly quit this time, although I did quit racing an actual cyclocross bike. I don't ride those bikes well. I'm timid, I'm non-aggressive, and I'm slow on those bikes. One could argue that racing a mountain bike on courses designed for 'cross bikes is slow, too. And that's a good argument. But, at least for me, mountain bikes are generally faster as long as the course isn't perfectly flat and non-technical. I love riding mountain bikes, and when I set one up right for 'cross, it's not a bad tool for the job. For me, it's the best tool I can grab.
So, I grabbed the P.O.S. Sette, outfitted in the lightest way I could think of, and headed to St. Vincent park today for the Bubba race. The course was awesome with a capital AWESOME. Really fun, ups and downs, sand pits, chicanes, climbs, descents, etc. I did better than I have done in a 'cross race in almost 10 years, 6th place. For a while there, it looked as though I might keep it in the top 5, but what I gain in handling and confidence with the mountain bike, I lose in the power sections to the 'cross bikes. And, let's face it, there are some good riders in this series and I could have been on a rocket powered scooter and still been off the back. And they ride 'cross bikes very well, thank you.
There you have it. I'm as good as I'm going to get on 3-4 hours of riding a week with this 44 year old body. And I'm thankful for that.