I've always wanted to try tubular tires on my CX bike since I've heard how great they are in all conditions, but couldn't really afford them. My friend Mike Seek got wind of it and helped my out by giving me a Campy wheel set with Vittoria CX tires glued to the rims. He built the back wheel himself with a hub donated from another friend Paul Hayes. I really appreciate it, and they really do make a difference.
Salisbury was my first race in a month and I was wondering about form, so I decided to go down for the CX 4 race. Got there late, didn't get to pre ride the course, and since it was my first race on tubies I took it easy the first two laps. Ended up 17 out of 35. I was sold on the tubies after the race and it looks like the clinchers will be sitting in the pits from now on.
January 12-13:Knoxicross #1 was the following Saturday in Knoxville. The course was a favourite of mine since I won there last year. Not so this year. I raced masters 45+ ended up fifth, but I could feel the form coming back. Great course that really suited me with all the turns and flat power sections. Plus, it was good to see my buddy Dwight from Asheville at the race.
Sunday was the big race of the winter season. The first ever Tennessee State Cyclocross Championship, which was sponsored by my club. The course was probably the most demanding, technical, and long course I've ever ridden. The course had everything, pavement, mud, sand, grass, three dismounts and did I say mud. One section was a long stretch of course wide mud leading down into a flat, it looked like the videos you see of the muddy Euro races. It was a blast, and the low pressure in the tubies made a difference.
This was probably the best race I've ever had even though I didn't win (didn't expect to). I at least wanted to medal. Since it was a TCRC event the TCRC officiating team was there with honorary member Vicki Lyons from Boone, and as part of my duties I was also officiating. After the CX 4 race I went to post results and stopped to answer questions and lost track of time. My race was the next race. Standing at the Finish line putting my helmet on thinking I need to get to the start, I looked down the road and saw the field racing toward me! Oh shizzle! I missed the start. When the last rider went through I jumped in behind, and when I topped the hill I saw Jeremy Chandler exiting the woods. Wait, he's a three, and I'm in the wrong race. Riding back the down the field parraleling the course I tried to get to the start before the masters came through. To late. They went flying by, so I waited again. After the last women (they were in the same race ) went through and got back on the course at the bottom of the hill again. I was so angry I started thrashing my bike up the hill and through the first technical section with no one in site. Chasing hard for the first two laps (10 min laps) I finally caught the back of the race. I raced past riders mud flying, sliding through turns finally riding past Greg Casteel. Realizing that I had third position, I extended the gap, but got too exited on the fast decent on the backside of the course and crashed hard. When I remounted and looked back Greg had closed half the gap. Powering the bike with everything I had I pulled a little further away. Coming to the end of the final lap I could hear people yelling for me and Greg. Approaching the sand pit I new I should get off and run since I struggled through the last time, but at the last moment I decided to ride it. About half way through the front wheel augured in and through me over the handlebars landing me in the sand on the wrong side of the bike. By the time I got up and got back to the Banchee, Greg blew by me. I didn't have anything left and the gap woudn't close. Greg beat me to the line by 30 feet. I was pretty po'ed because I had raced so hard from beyond last place and screwed up on the last lap by crashing twice. Riding down to the bike wash trying to tell myself, "just be glad you can do this, a lot of people can't even ride a bike let alone race" it was still hard to swallow. When I returned to the finish area to resume officiating. I found out that I had actually been racing for second not third, so I actually ended up medaling. I was very happy and proud of that achievement. State CX photos can be found here Sidetracked Magazine
The rest of the TCRC CX team did really well medaling in all categories but two and Mike Seek took home the Single Speed Championship Jersey. What a great club, and team. Dan Werle did an excellent job designing a Championship course.