After a couple breaks from cyclocross for epic mountain bike races, it was back to the skinny tires. Bubba #6 at Queeny Park was going to be a nice refresher for me and it pitted me on terrain that felt like home: narrow, descents, berms, and woods. There wasn’t a single 180º turn in the race! I started the C race, tried to pin it to stay in the middle. People were jammed up, but I felt good. I tried passing one guy in the narrow wood area, but didn’t stick it. As we were on the final dirt track before a long pavement climb, the ride felt rough. The rear wheel seemed to hit the ground with each bump (and there were a lot of those). The tire had flatted. I grabbed the bike and hiked it up the hill, past the pit (I don’t have spare wheels), and DNF’d.
Sad at the prospect of ruining a warm November day for less than a lap, I put in a new tube in the tire and decided to line up at the very back of the B race. This was fun as it gave me a few laps on the course allowed me to watch guys just simply out ride me. I was out of my element in this race, but did find some riders to battle. Eventually I started to notice I was sliding out with my rear tire once or twice a lap. Eventually it was in every turn. The rear tire had a slow leak, causing it to loose traction in the hardpack or grass. I added air in the pit after a lap and tried to keep going, but air was just not staying in. Coming up the pavement I realized that the tire was flat and potentially catching the brakes (making climbing a real chore), so I quit for the second time in a day.
Bubba #7 had the potential of being our first non-dustbowl-like race since it rained the night before. But the ground must have soaked it all up because it was as dusty and as hard as always. Again this course had some features that I enjoyed: there was a couple flat sections, but we had tight turns, berms, descents, logs, and off-cambers to enjoy. Early in the race I had placed myself again in the middle, but I was happy because I could see the train of guys and we were together. Soon I made a few moves here or there to get around some guys. But I kept the pace. This was a two-race weekend and I didn’t want to totally redline it. Eventually I found myself in a pocket of guys who I would catch on a gradual uphill or through a technical section, but lose in a couple of areas. I finished the day feeling pretty happy with that result and wasn’t totally wasted.
After a long night of painting and a day of racing, Bubba #8 was going to be rough. The course also looked decidedly hilly: there was one hill that especially in pre laps was a chore to climb and another slow gravel climb broken up with barriers. By the time my race came around I decided to ride the hill for as long as possible by throwing it in the granny gear and going. It worked great and I didn’t feel that climb as much as I thought. The rest of the course was fun and flowing. I found a few guys who would slam past in the flat straights, but I would just grab their wheel and then try to stay with them. The second log was a little beyond my CX riding skills, so I dismounted and I was slow on the barriers this day. The final climb/beginning of each lap was torture on my legs. I guess the gradual nature showed that I had raced the day before. Felt good to have raced and had a blast drinking and cheering after. That reminded me that I don’t have to pin it to feel great, just have fun. If I feel the legs are there, go for it.