It was a glorious day at DCCX with cool temps, bright sunshine, a great crowd, and cold beer waiting at the finish. I was really looking forward to this race because I rolled a tubeless tire on an off-camber rooted turn last year. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake twice so I got myself a set of tubulars before this season. I need every advantage I can get in the very strong masters 1/2/3 field and the tubies help me take advantage of my strengths – handling and cornering.
I’d only done 1 race prior to DCCX and although I finished strong, my starting position in DC was 27th in a field of 35, not ideal with such a strong field. After a good warmup and just one practice lap, I rolled to the line. The start was pretty clean, a little slow around the first couple turns, but I managed to move up a few spots. The field quickly spread out and I settled in for 45 minutes of pain. My goal was to be clean, make up time in the corners, and be patient as I slowly made up time on the guys in front of me.
Like most cross races, every corner had a big impact on lap times and everything I did was at the limit. The limit of traction on every corner and the limit of how hard your body can work for 45-50 minutes. I didn’t even bother to look at my heart rate, knowing I was at 90%+. At times, I felt both tires wanting to break loose. Only once, with 2 riders on my wheel, did I lose rear traction just for an instant and they got by. That’s all it takes to lose 5-10 seconds.
Despite losing a couple spots on the one mistake, I managed to claw my way to 19th. For all the work, it felt like it should have been better, but racing as a cat 3 with 1’s and 2’s is tough.
The racing was clean and I had some great 1 on 1 battles along the way. It hurt like hell, but having teammates and friends out there yelling made a huge difference, as did the thought of a cold beer as a reward.