Race number 2 of the season brought me to my hometown race or Gateway Hills CX. Gateway Hills is held on a small snowboarding terrain park in the middle of Nashua with terrain that is way more typical of a cyclocross race than the rooted singletrack that I experienced at Blunt Park. On top of having some friendlier terrain, Gateway Hills ran an Intro to 'Cross clinic prior to the race which gave newer riders an opportunity to do a lap with an experienced rider and learn how they saw the course. For someone that doesn't have a local club and has very few opportunities to pick the brain of someone with some experience, I absolutely jumped on this opportunity.
During the into clinic, I was able to do a lap with Jen Murphy, who ended up coming in second in the Women's 4/5 race immediately before mine. This was a great opportunity that gave me some insight into different ways to approach sections of the course. Having the chance to try out tripodding on an off camber with someone to correct you is way better for figuring things out than just sliding down the hill a thousand times until you finally figure it out on your own. Don't get me wrong, I still do that all the time with just about everything but I wish there were more opportunities like this to learn from people that have only recently left the rookie ranks and haven't forgotten what that experience is like yet.
During my warm-up lap on course, I took a pretty nasty crash over my handlebars when I misjudged the slope on a downhill. I tried to course correct and ended up tangled in some safety tape and it was yard sale time. On the way down, my chainring got a little hungry and took a bite out of my shin, leaving me with a nice battle wound that random strangers would continue to point out to me the rest of the weekend.
When the race started, everything stayed more or less together until the first time things had even a minor incline. I was unfortunate enough to end up behind someone that had either a mechanical or couldn't figure out how to get back on his bike. Whatever the case, he was swinging back and forth across the track and at one point slipped, throwing his bike out towards me while he slid down the small incline. With the whole path occupied by one poor decision, I slid out to avoid riding over the top of this mess. I followed this up with the rookie mistake of burning one too many matches to try and catch back up to the field, leaving me burned on the first lap. I wasn't completely fried, and managed to stay with the same group through most of the race. Our small group of back markers turned into a race to just not be DFL. Coming into the finishing straight, I thought we still had one lap to go and the guy that had been riding just off my wheel all day came up around me as I kept riding my pace thinking I had to survive another lap.
Despite making a whole host of rookie mistakes, this race was tons of fun and a great learning experience. I wish more races offered similar opportunities like the intro clinic hosted by Gateway Hills. Now it's time for a short break before three straight weeks of racing in October! Oh and did I mention we got to play with puppies with our post race drinks?
|Men Cat 5||36/42|