Peg’s Posts: National Cyclocross Championships, the race must go on
This year it proved to be no different. The event ran Dec. 13-16, 2007. On Monday and Tuesday, an ice storm swept through the Midwest, causing power outages and travel problems in the region. This was when the initial course set up took place. By Thursday, for the “B” Championships, the weather was somewhat improved. Course conditions were ice covered grass with frozen tundra underneath. As the races progressed the course became muddier and muddier, as the ice on the grass melted. On Friday morning, the ground refroze. The triple barricades had to be removed due to icy conditions, which made it unsafe for dismounting. As the day progressed, the racing warmed up the course and it became an even bigger muddy mess, with ice frozen ruts under the mud. Riders were sinking 6 inches and more in the mud in some places. The park which was at one time all grass, looked like it had big winding black top path where ever there was rider or spectator traffic.
Friday afternoon, a front came through the area and snow fell over night. Once again, the ground refroze under the snow. My race was the last race of the day, Saturday. It was still snowing and blowing during the race. You could not preview the course except by foot. It would have not helped as the course was changing day by day and race by race due to the weather and wear and tear of the racing. Warm-up for the race was almost impossible. Due to the “staging” and call up of each rider on the starting grid, it took 15-20 minutes to get all of the 120+ riders on the starting grid. I started near the back of the 50-54 age group. The start was on a paved downhill road, but we soon turned uphill and onto the frozen tundra. I managed to work my way to the middle of the pack. Nearly 70 racers in the group dropped into the ditch that took us off of the pavement. I knew the course would be snowy and icy. The real surprise was the portions of the course where section of frozen ground and chunks were littering the course like a big bad pothole. All of the muddy ruts were now frozen. You had to aim for the right rut and hope that you were not thrown to the ground by a new direction that the tire rut took you. Riders were falling right and left. Starting and stopping was what was required for any rider but the first lucky few. You could not see further than a few feet in front of you and had to trust that the rider in front of you could follow the best line and not fall or have to stop. After a few minutes, I switched to my lowest gear and just tried to keep moving. There were portions where you could only walk as the course was so congested. I have no idea how many times I fell. I do not know how many times I nearly busted my knuckles on the fencing along the course. At one point, a rider was dismounting, as I approached from the rear. I received a glancing kick to the head and his foot came down on my Garmin Edge 305 and knocked me down. (The mounting plate was shattered, but the Edge took the kicking. My cadence quit being aligned at some point from one of the hard falls.)
I did what I could before the eventual winner, the legendary Ned Overend, passed by just at the end of my second of four laps for the race. My racing day was over. Officially, I was credited with 38th place. Racing continued on Sunday with the Grand Finale of the Elite Women’s and Men’s races. Katie Compton and Tim Johnson proved to be worthy Champions in sunny but muddy conditions. It was an incredible event. Now to use my Garmin to train for next year. Incredible skills, bravery, and toughness were exhibited by all those who participated or watched the events.
Check out David’s extreme ride in MotionBased.
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