2011 Blunt Park Cyclocross – 35+ 1/2/3/4


May I just say, in spite of the temporary elation from winning a three-man field on a cyclocross bike over a course intended for mountain bikes, Harding Hill is looking like one of the single stupidest things I have ever done on a bicycle.

Not only have I been nauseous more days than not since participating in that race over five weeks ago, attributed to God knows what because modern medicine sure as hell has no idea but will happily take my money in the meantime,

Not only did I develop blisters in my hands that took two solid weeks to get to a point where I could grab a handlebar in a non-gingerly fashion,

Not only did I apparently rip a hole in the side of my rear tubular during that race, necessitating a new set of tires all around because the tread was already kind of marginal and I secretly hoped to get one more season out of what I had but I guess not, (but also just a quick shout-out to whatever magic powers kept air in the tire long enough for me to finish the race)

Anyway I thought I had one more “not only” but I guess not.  Anyway I’m never doing that race/cat again and I already said that before so I’m just reiterating.

So today I decided to get a jump on the cyclocross bicycle racing season proper and race Blunt Park.  It made sense to drive over 230 miles round trip spanning 4+ hours in-car to race a 45-minute event having slept minimally and shitty the two nights prior.  Rather than race in the 3/4 field at noon, I opted for the 35+ 1/2/3/4 race an hour earlier, because everything in life is a trade-off, and wanting that extra hour back in the afternoon meant choosing a severe ass-whipping over mid-pack glory.  Such is life.

Also just a quick shout-out to TomTom – I fucking hate you TomTom.  I put “Blunt Park” in my GPS and it took me to some sketchy neighborhood nowhere near the actual race course which is a direct result of TomTom’s massively stupid idea of allowing just anybody to upload POIs into the database that ultimately ends up on my device.

At any rate I did get to the actual Blunt Park, it was a spectacular* venue, aside from the acres of sprawling garbage.  I parked and saw Tim Metzger happily zipping along in the 4 race, which went off at 9am.  Nice.  Today won’t be so bad.  Even though the last two high-tempo rides I’ve done resulted in me being sick and either throwing up or nearly throwing up, as recently as four days ago.  It’s all good decisions right here.

*Exaggerating considerably.  It’s alright.

On that topic – as I mentioned, I’ve had some kind of strange sickness/nausea/vertigo for weeks on end now, and through process of elimination thanks in no part to anyone in the medical field I have paid to help me out with this I have decided to abandon coffee altogether.  Which seems to have helped matters.  Breakfast did not include coffee, and consisted only of oatmeal (good stuff- Bob’s Gluten Free – I’m not celiac, nor do I play one on TV, we just had them) and banana 3.5/4hrs prior.  This proved good decision.  Energy was reasonably good all things considered.  I was surprised.  Go fuck yourself coffee.  

(Honestly, I remember that I stopped coffee last CX season as well.  I can’t feel my legs when I drink coffee.  I don’t know why that is.  Or I do know.  Who knows.  And as it turns out, I get PLENTY amped for a race on my own.  Coffee just ends up being that borderline useless third guy who shows up to help you and a friend move a piece of furniture.)

So back to the race.  I should mention – the day before the race, I was goofing around in the backyard when I should have been napping:

Oh except NOT DUBIOUS AT ALL FRIENDS!  The course was actually a pretty fun mixed bag of tricks, including….ample logs placed lengthwise across the course necessitating dismount unless you had been practicing just this skill the day before whew.  That was a lifesaver.  I rode 5 of the 6 log features, ran the other, life was pretty good in this regard.

So this is how the race went: great clip in, good start, bobble a little, a few dudes come by, hop a log, we enter the woods, turns, roots, stumps, going okay, then I look up during a sort of woodsy power section and I see that I am dangling off the back of a sizable group.  I know this is a group to go with, because it represents most of the field, and it’s early, and essentially if you want to place somewhat well you would go with these guys. And I realize all of this and something in my brain goes “nah I’m all set, thanks!” and that’s it.

Mostly it.  I had no initiative to go with those guys today, whatever categories they were in, and toiled away ahead of the tail end of the field, mashing, drooling, it was hot, but I was giving it effort.  I had a guy tailing me within three bike lengths for most of the race, and in spite of my 75% best effort could not shake him.  It was actually slightly interesting.  I knew I wasn’t dead-ass last, and actually had to work to preserve this status, so it was up-and-at-em, best-behavior, dont-screw-up, big-ring-it, turn-on-your-tires, et-ce-tera, bike racing.  I give myself some teaspoon of credit for ultimately building that gap and preserving a shining star 16th place.  Out of 19 places say the results.  Again it’s not last.  And I have half of the riding under my belt this year that I’ve had every year since I started riding.  So for pass/fail racing this is very much a pass.

I would recommend racing at Blunt Park in the future.  It’s a bit of a haul getting there, but the major skills are represented, the course won’t break you in half, fields are small – it’s a good way to kick off the season.  You’ll surprise yourself with what you still remember how to do, and identify the things you still need work on.  And results are posted FAST.  Organizers promise to have them within minutes of the finish, and they deliver.  

So you’ll of course remember the affliction that befell my left hand at Harding Hill.  Well guess what re-emerged late in the race.  I could fucking feel it starting up again.  Terrific.  I pulled my gloves off post-race and both of the previously blistered areas on my left hand were welling up.  Fantastic.  If we were doing double-race weekends right now, I couldn’t do day two because of this wonderful artifact from July 17th that refuses to go away like some kind of Harding Hill Herpes of the Hand but obviously not hand-herpes, we’re only talking about blisters I don’t want there to be any confusion here, I do not have hand-herp.  If that’s even a real thing.

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