Thought a borrowed line from a great Seger tune would be a fitting title to recap my first night cyclocross race.
The PRO sheen...
A night race involves a whole different preparatory mindset than the usual day races. Racing in B, races usually start around 11 AM. So race day morning is usually spent packing the car and driving to the race. Well, when you're start time isn't until 7 PM, that leaves a lot of time thinking about the race. It's kinda like a mosquito bite, you may forget about it for a bit, but that nagging itch is never totally out of mind.
That "itch" was there all day (and the nerves to go with it) so I was definitely relieved to car-pool with my buddy Steve to race. The drive was a little over an hour so the conversation provided a great distraction.
If I had to think of stereotypical cyclocross conditions, Saturday would have been it. Overcast and rainy with temps in the 50s. I love that kind of weather. I get overheated pretty easily and those conditions just suit me. Plus, any good excuse to pull out the Mad Alchemy and embrocate up is just fine by me... I love that stuff so much I could eat it.
Back to the race - The course was set up in a city park in Monroe. It's pretty damn flat, with a solitary mound on one end of the course. This hill featured the typical run up and a short climb. This course definitely favored the power rider with lots of straights and not a lot of technical stuff.
For a warm up, me, Steve and Brian Love (gotta say Brian's full name cuz I dig it) did a short ride around a neighborhood near the park. I headed back to the car and laid the embro on extra thick (my legs looked like George Hamilton with jaundice), then it was onto the course to check it out. I did about 1 1/2 laps when I noticed that the starting line was already full of riders. I hustled over there and had to line up in back.
The race went decently for me. I felt better than I have in a long time, like my strength is finally coming back. I crashed once in the last lap (a remount mishap) but held on to my position, which ended up being 12th place. Not bad. The form is coming around.
After cooling down, Steve and I grabbed the cowbells and set up camp on the mound to cheer on our fellow crossers doing the single speed, masters and elite races. Here's what I learned - it is an amazing amount of fun cheering on your com padres as they put themselves through hell. I'm so hoarse today I can barely speak. Amazingly fun - I gotta stick around more often.
A huge thanks to Tailwind and Jack's Bicycle for putting on the race and to Andrea Tucker and Hans Nyberg for capturing our suffering for posterity.