Cross riders kicked off the season on a sweltering hot August 26th this year. Expo was there in full force with a bunch of very good results. Hildy won the 45+ masters race and placed 3rd in the Pro 1, 2 race. Todd Bowden place 2ndin the Pro 1 , 2 race. Jim Honda placed 4th in the 3, 4 race. Vicki Monahan placed 2nd Elite Women, Humberto place 2nd in the 4,5; Jeremy Brazel placed 9th in the 45 + masters and Stan Lezon place 14th in the 35+ masters race.
With the drought in full force there were a lot of crossers coming off the course looking a bit like Al Jolson (younger people may need to google him)…..Needless to say , it was dusty and dirty. With the warm temperatures and sweat, people were covered in dirt. The course is pancake flat and was very similar to last year’s race. This is probably the tightest, twistiest, turny course we’ll see this year.
My race started off from the last row. I thought we would be staged and lined up right after the juniors went off, like last year. Nope, not this year. It was a mass start with the juniors. A typical cross “cluster” start is what we got as people sprinted from the tarmac to the dirt with a 180° turn waiting for all of us. It was a messy turn and I heard some bikes crunching together right behind me. I made it through the first turn unscathed, surprisingly. Into the woods we went on a very “mountain bike” like trail that looked like it was newly cut. Sections of the trail were very rooty and still soft like a new trail. There were very few places to pass but they were there. We were ¾ done with the 1st lap when I had my first mishap, I threw my chain and jammed it in between the crank and the chain stay. As I was off the bike yanking on the chain I watch the 2 guys I had just passed go flying by me. Luckily it didn’t take long to get back on the bike so I could chase the 2 guys back down.
At the end of the 3rd lap as I was transitioning from a dirt section to the tarmac I heard what sounded like a gun shot. Uh oh, I had slammed my rear wheel into the edge of the asphalt breaking a spoke. I had just passed the pit so I was forced to ride ¾ of a lap to get back to the pit, bad timing on my part. I tried to keep my speed up on the straightaways but kept it conservative in the corners so the wheel wouldn’t collapse. On my way to the pit the rear wheel started to feel really spongy. With the spoke banging around the chain & seat stays my bike sounded awful. I wasn’t sure if all the spokes were loosening up or the tire was going flat. Unfortunately, it was both. The last couple of turns before the pit I thought I was going to roll the rear tire. Somehow the rear wheel stayed on. I grabbed my pit bike and was back on the course as quickly as possible without losing any places. I had one lap to go on the pit bike until the finish. I had a little breathing room and was able to hold off David Goodwin who was nipping at my heels. Surprisingly, my ride was good enough for 2nd place which is the best I have ever done in a race. I hope my mechanicals are done for the season!