This past weekend while most people were eating leftovers and sitting on the couch, I along with a few hundred other people decided to travel to Iowa. Despite common belief we did not go there to eat corn, we went to race in The 2007 Carousel Volkswagen Jingle Cross Rock cyclocross race. This being my first season riding (I am not good enough yet to call it racing) cyclocross, I had been debating traveling over 250 miles to go ride. But after realizing the worst I could do is die, why not go and ride. I knew a few people who would be going, namely Ben and Jen, I also knew a lot more people that I have seen ride in the Wisconsin Cyclocross Series would be there. Namely the heavy hitters of Tristan, Marko, and Brian. (I don't claim to knew these guys personally, they just ride very well, and I try to learn all I can from them.) Well I signed up 6 hours before preregistration ended, after quickly booking a hotel and telling myself I am not crazy for attempting to do this. I then started packing.
I woke up Friday, still believing I was crazy for doing what I was about to do, but I said screw it and left. Four and a half hours of uneventful driving and I was in Iowa parking at my hotel. I knew I would run into to Ben and Jen at some point in time, but I nor them expected it to be 30 seconds after getting there. (they probably passed me while I stopped to get some McDonald's (great pre-race day food huh?)) I checked in and moved all my bags and bike into the room. For those questioning why I took the bike into the room, you need to ride your bike more and you will understand. I started to settle down for what I figured would be a pretty uneventful night and my room phone rang. Ben, with Mike, Dan, Holly, and Kevin invited me to dinner. (Kevin and Holly being married to each other are both on Ben's new team Killjoy) After dinner Ben, Dan, Mike and I headed down to the pool because "The Elite Races go down the 100 foot water slide". A few hours later I poorly attempted to sleep before a ride I was still unsure I should be doing, but it was too late now to turn back.
After a quick pre-ride of the course on frozen solid ground I attempted to thaw my feet out before my race. I turned out I was the 23rd person to register for the Men's Beginner Race, so I got to line up 3rd row on the outside. To date that was my best starting spot yet. At the sound of the cow bell we were off. The outside opened up and I was able to pass a few people, but after the first set of barriers I took the corner a little wide and lost more spots than I had gained in the start. The beginner course had a shorter run up and we didn't have to climb the huge hill everyone else had too (it pays to be a crappy rider some days :=)) The rest of the race was pretty uneventful, other than a dollar hand up from Ben in the sand pit. It was just me slowly passing slower people and ending up 20th of 32. My highlight of the race was being able to out sprint Sarah Huang at the finish. She may be a junior be she has more than once out sprinted me on the track, so today the revenge was MINE!. The rest of the day was pretty much me screaming and yelling for anyone I knew. By the end of Ben's race I could barely talk. The day ended with a shower some more dinner with the same people as the night before, a dip in the hot tub, and a quick slide or 2 down the huge water slide.
That night I ended up waking up at 3:30am cough horribly bad. After coughing for 20 minutes I took a warm shower to clear my chest and finally fell back asleep around 5ish. Two hours later I was up packing to head to the course and then home. It was a earlier start on Sunday, and the grass was frozen solid making for a VERY slippery warm up, but since the course didn't change too much I did 2 laps and retreated to the car to warm up. I managed to get a 2nd row outside starting spot. The bell went off and i took off, I managed to be 5th at the first barrier and 3rd over it. But some guy decided to put his front tire between my shoulder blades and then use my calf as a way to put his bike down. I recovered and managed to be at the tail end of the first group. Down the back stretch I had ice chucks from the grass throw at me from people's back tires. The mini riding uphill was the worst part of the course for me. Lap one, some guy in the middle fell forcing everyone off the bikes, lap 2 my back tire slide out on some mud and I went down, and the 3rd and finally lap I make it over the crest when my bike decided to drop its chain. Needless to say, it wasn't a good day for me. The sand pit helped prove it. After day one the groove in the sand pit was nice, a little too nice. First lap I carried too much speed in to make the S-style type exit and had to dismount, lap 2 I thought I had the exit dialed in, only to find out I was 2 feet off. This resulted in a meeting of my hand and brake lever into a solid cement wall. (nothing is broken, just a VERY sore right wrist) Lap 3 was uneventful. With all my crashes I ended up 26th of 40. After cleaning myself up and a quick trip to the hotel to help someone, I cheer and screamed my lungs out until I had to go. Four and a half hours later I was home and ready to go again.
Overall I learned a lot, I learned the start is the key because no matter how strong you are, you can't over come a bad start. I learned I want to travel more to races, while it might be kinda costly, its a completely different animal when your away from home.
Next up the Wisconsin State Championship for Cyclocross, with new wheels (shh) and a new outlook, I might not do so bad, who knows I could ever made fifty bucks from Ben.
Photo Credit goes to http://bikeiowa.smugmug.com/
PS please forgive my grammer, its late and I don,t care to fix it