Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cyclocross 2011

As always, I'm pretty stoked for the cyclocross season to start. Between 'cross and my new ice climbing(obsession?) I've never had a summer before that I really didn't care much about until now. It's taken everything I have not to post about cyclocross before now, and for most people this is still a little early. I even got my first tilted head "what kind of bike is that?" question of the year while I was refilling my water bottles mid-ride last weekend. I have to go through my pile of tires and decide what I want to use this year, especially the tubulars, and make sure they hold air, especially the tubulars. I don't have a decent set of mud tires and it seems dumb to buy a set of tires for one the one muddy race that we get each year, but it sure would have been helpful at the Ft. Buenaventura race last Dec. Soft pedaling through every corner is not a good way to move up in the race.

I just washed my Clammy Chamois 'cross jersey. Yep, it's been sitting stinky and dirty in the bottom of my race bag since last year. You'd think it would air out a bit after 8 or 9 months, but it was just as stinky as the day I threw it in their. Someone the stank came out and I'll be able to wear it proudly when I line up this year.

I totally slacked on the training last year but even so, I was in better shape than the previous two years and still managed to continually place lower and lower in the sandbagger filled C-class. To remedy this, I'll be moving(not sure if it's to a harder class or not) 35+ B class. It will be sad to leave some of my friends behind, but it's time to move on and challenge myself and some other racers.

The jury is still out on the TRP CX-9 v-brakes. It seems that if I can get my rim true enough to get the pads close enough then they work great. But getting everything adjusted just so is kind of a pain. I need to also consider what will happen if a big wobble happens mid-race, do I want to deal with the brake pad slowing the wheel on each revolution.

Have I mentioned that I freaking love cyclocross. Except for youth church basketball it's the only sport in which I've ever really competed. Mind you I'm not a steely eyed competitor, able to draw speed and stamina from the well when things get really hard. But, I do enjoy mixing it up with the handful of riders around me during the race. If this means I sprint it out with some other guy for 24th place so be it. I have fun and that's all I care about. I started racing simply as motivation to stay in shape. The fun of strategizing and using my strengths, as minimal as they may be, is what makes me keep racing. That, and a delicious bratwurst after the race. Josh, we need to pick this back up. I'll bring the Colosimo's brats to the first race if you bring the grill.

It seems I may be getting my hands on a GoPro camera soon so expect to see some pictures and some video added to the blog this year. Then we can relish in my glory, and the more likely, defeats, with actual visual proof.

If you care about the local races continue reading, otherwise it's going to get even more boring than the first half of this post.

UTCX just posted the schedule for this year. Nice to only have one race at the Weber Fairgrounds this year. It's a long drive and not my favorite venue, though to be honest it has grown on me. I'll be racing at Wheeler Farm 4 times this year. It's always a fun venue with lots of variety, probably one of the best 'cross courses we have in UT. Ft. Bueneventura gets two races this year, wooohoo. I think this is everyone's favorite course. It has almost the same amount of variety that Wheeler does, but the hills have been replaced with a lot of corners through the trees. Mt. Ogden Golf course is back with one race. Hopefully I don't have another mechanical and illness to keep me down this year. This is probably the closest we have to a World Cup type course. Almost all of the course is wide with lots of room for passing. Some tricky downhill off camber corners that can get mighty slick when the grass is wet and a nice lung searing hill in the first 1/2 mile of the course. The season kicks off at the Utah State Fairpark. This was the one venue that I didn't race at last year. Pictures and reports proved it to be a roadie course. Hopefully all of my time on the road this year and the extra fitness will help me not suck too badly. Heber County Fairgrounds gets one race. My least favorite of all the courses, though that may have to do with a DNF from two years ago. One surprising omission is the lack of any races in Draper. I'm not too dissapointed. I'm not sure of the reason for dropping it but maybe others had the same problem I had - way too much single-track, nowhere to pass.  It has some features that made it fun, and if you could keep your heart from blowing up you could make up lost time on the long paved climb. This is the same climb that has induced puking twice in past.

Now for a little cyclocross stoke:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Crushed by The Crusher

If you've made it to this blog you've most likely already read other reports of the race and/or probably did the race yourself. I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it yet as the sting is still fresh and new but here is the basic (meaning long and overly drawn out) recap.

Friday afternoon I packed up my truck and drove down to Beaver, UT for The Crusher in the Tushar road+dirt race. This race appealed to me because it was a mix of road and dirt. A normal road race just doesn't seem like fun at all. I drove, probably a little too fast since my speedometer only works sometimes, to downtown Beaver where the packet pick-up was being held. Oddly enough some sort of Polynesian festival was also going on. I'd expect this sort of thing in West Valley or even Provo, but it seemed strange and out of place in Beaver. I handed my waiver forms to a woman, I think it was the race director's wife. She asked my number when I told her "12" she said, "Ryan Hamilton from Orem, UT" then found my packet and swag bag and handed it to me. Did she memorize the people that registered for the race or maybe the first 20 or something? Either way it was impressive and kind of strange. Next I scouted out a place to park and spend the night. I needed an out of the way parking lot. I found that Beaver is just as small as I expected and happened upon the high school from which we'd lead out the next day. I soon found a parking lot shared by the LDS seminary building and the high school. There must only be 30 people that drive cars to that high school, that was a small parking lot. A perfect place to spend the night since I'd only have a block or two to drive the next morning to start the race. I blew up my air mattress, stuck it in the back of the truck, peed in the bushes and went to bed. Sometime in the night the sprinklers on the lawn I'd parked next to went on, everything in the back of my truck was pretty wet, but somehow it didn't soak through my sleeping bag.

I packed up and drove to the parking lot near the start area to find I was the first person there. I was able to use the porta-potty in peace without the usual race-day lines. While eating my oatmeal, mountain bike legend, Tinker Juarez pulled up next to me. I've always wondered what national champions do to get ready for a big bike race. Apparently they warm up for 5-10 minutes, fiddle with the bike a bit then sit in their car and text. Good to see I'm not too far off.

Since I was parked 50 yards from the start line I could take my time getting ready. I could hear all of the announcements so when I heard them make the final call for racers to get to the start line I went over to the Men 30-39 group. I was happy to see cyclocross buddies Josh McCarrel and Wesley Rasmussen near me. After a few words from the officials we took our turn heading out. We started out at a decent pace so I pedaled along in the peleton for a few miles. Then, some of the fast guys from the group behind us passed our group. I think that spurred the lead guys to go faster. Pretty soon I was in the last half of the group that didn't want to bust a lung in the first 5 miles of the race. It was nice to have a group to ride with and take turns pulling and drafting as the grades slowly got steeper and steeper up Beaver Canyon. By the time we turned onto the dirt the group was pretty strung out. I hung with a group of about 4 guys on mountain bikes for a while, but dropped them after a couple of miles. I this was due to the fact that I had to stick with my 34T chain ring and they had a 22 granny to drop into so they could spin away. I had to keep the legs pumping up the climb. About 10 miles up the dirt (20 miles into the race) the cramps in my legs got bad enough that I had to stop for a few minutes. Riders passed by and asked if I was ok. One guy who'd apparently replaced the torn off sleeves of his jersey with full sleeve tatoos (later found out it was big-drop crazy Josh Bender) asked for a knuckle bump as he rode past on his 7" travel Ellsworth MTB. After the cramps subsided I got back on and rode to the first aid station, had a cool slice of watermelon (tasted sooo good), refilled with electrolytes and continued on.

After hitting the aid station and refueling I got back to it. I had thought the aid station was at the top of the climb so it was a long 3 miles to top out. I'll also mention here that although I loved everything else at the aid stations, the EFS gel was the absolute worst gel I've ever had. No gels are really all that great, but this was like shooting a big gulp of runny honey into your mouth. My jaw actually locked up for a moment after the intense sweetness hit the back of my tongue, glad I had some water to quickly wash that down. After making it to the top and snagging a dollar from Slyfox I hit the downhill only to find that my rear brake wasn't really working at all. This made navigating the steep and loose switchbacks more than a little difficult. Not wanting to die, I took my time creeping around the corners with just my front brake to keep my speed under control. After what seemed like a hand cramping eternity I finally made it to the paved section, luckily still downhill. The curves were all nice and mellow so I shot down without touching my brakes and enjoyed the relief of not having to exercise any muscles for a few minutes. After the grade mellowed out a bit I tried to shift to different gear so I could start pedaling to maintain the speed I had. As soon as I started to pedal my rear derailleur locked up. Not wanting to rip of the derailleur in the middle of the race I was forced to stop and fix it. The derailleur looked fine but my I couldn't turn the cranks. It took me a couple of minutes to figure out that the bumpy descent had somehow made my cassette come loose. I popped off the wheel and did my best to hand tighten the cassette without a tool. All this time I watched rider after rider pass by. Once I got back on the road I and pedaled into town I realized that I hadn't seen anyone in quite a while and wondered if I'd gone the wrong way.

I made my way to the only flat section of the course, with the stiff wind it offered no relief of easy pedaling. I managed to catch up to one guy and sat on his wheel for a minute to catch my breath. We took turns pulling in the headwind. Once the course turned onto dirt and the wind was now at my back I dropped him pretty quick. That is until a couple miles into the slow dirt climb when my leg cramps came back with a vengeance. I suffered with them for a while until I couldn't take it any longer. Anytime my leg would straiten out it would lock up in a cramp, not only making it hard to pedal with any sort of efficiency, but quickly make my muscles very tired and sore. I pedaled slower and slower until I just couldn't turn over the cranks and came to a stop. After a minute the guy behind me slowly passed by. Then another couple of minutes after that the SAG wagon pulled up and asked if I was OK. I explained the cramp situation, that I was just waiting it out. Apparently my previous cramps, slow descent and mechanical problems had put me in last place. So I now had the decision to try to keep going with the SAG wagon creeping behind me for the next 3 hours, or call it a day. It was a tough decision to make. I had been training hard, harder than I've ever trained before. I was in great shape and had really looked forward to this race. But, I knew from past hot sweaty rides that once the leg cramps get bad there isn't much I can do to keep them at bay. Knowing that the toughest part of the race was ahead and my legs, if I could even get them to move again, would just get worse, I made the decision to get in the van.

It was both a relief and heartbreaking to sit in the van. It made it all the worse when we came upon my friend Wes who was clearly having a hard time on the steep switchbacks, honestly everyone was. Wes didn't give up, even with the van on his heals, he just kept on. He walked when he needed to walk and rode when he could ride. He may have come in last, unable to catch that last guy 10 seconds in front of him at the end, but had more grit and determination than most of the guys that rode the Crusher that day.

Three days later I still get a pit in my stomach wondering if I could have continued and finished the race. All I can do is plan for next year. I've got to figure out my sodium loss issue that causes my leg cramps. I thought I had prepared well enough for it by bringing a bunch of salt pills with me and taking in a lot of electrolytes. I need to own up to the fact that I'm more susceptible than most to salt loss and I can't just do what others do if I'm going to finish a race like The Crusher. One thing is for sure I'll be ready for it next year.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Training Is Not Fun

I wrote about a recent adventure I had while training for the Crusher In The Tushar race: I've thought a a lot about long hilly bike rides during the last month or so as I've ramped up my "Crusher" training. I've come to realize that I don't enjoy most of the tough hill climbs, I rarely ever do. It's hard, painful, hot and did I mention hard. I recall about 6 years ago driving up Provo and South Fork Canyon looking at the cyclists that were sweating their way up those canyons on their bikes in the July heat and honestly wondering why they did it. It didn't look fun, it didn't look like they were enjoying themselves. I said to my wife, "why would you even want to do that, it looks awful?" Fast forward to today and I can tell you why those suckers sweat and grind their way to the top of the hill. You get a supreme sense of satisfaction from completing a tough ride, especially if it involves a big climb. Time after time I push myself on my rides, especially my favorite Provo Canyon/South Fork time trial. I push as hard as I can, yet feel myself moving in slow motion as I finally reach out and touch the gate to the Girl Scouts camp that marks the end of the road. Sometimes my heart is beating so hard that I have to have to sit down and put my head between my legs to keep my lunch down. Not fun. But I feel stronger and tougher because of it and that 30 seconds I took off my personal record feels like my own gold medal.

Despite all this feel good I get from training I tend to slack off the training when it gets hard. During cyclocross season the training is all about hard intervals and hard intervals suck. They suck even more because they're done in my basement on the trainer in front of a movie that I'm bored of and isn't doing anything to take my mind off the pain. Because of this, it's easy to say that tonight is just a bad night and my legs aren't feeling it. I cut the workout short, take a shower and sit down to a nice bowl of ice cream. Probably the best thing that training for the Crusher has taught me is to keep pushing. If I stopped every time the road got steep on the Alpine Loop it would take me forever to complete those training rides. Quiting was not an option, I had to get in the miles or get crushed by The Crusher. So I learned that when it got steep and my legs felt limp that I had to push harder and dig a little deeper. Sure it hurt, but I gained a little extra heart in the process. Giving up 2/3 of the way through a 45 mile ride through the mountains isn't really an option. Turning around and heading back down means I'd then have to ride 30 miles back home in the heat of the afternoon sun.

One of my favorite parts of completing a really hard training ride or race is the silent satisfaction that I get when I go back to work on Mon. and know that I'm that much tougher than everyone else that went out for 18 holes or sat on their couch watching a football game. I have nothing against golf or tv watching, I'll probably take it up when I'm 60 and I have to slow down a bit. But for now I'll relish the grit and mud that I clean off my teeth after a hard 'cross race and feel just a little bit tougher than you.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

UTCX# 8 - I Am Not a State Champion

This year's Utah State Championship race was held on the Mount Ogden Golf course. Most of us were expecting a pretty easy affair mellow climbs over small grassy hills. This is not what we got. I don't normally whine (at least I think I don't and if you think I do please keep your comments to yourself I don't want to hear them and I won't believe them anyway), but I'm going to do some whining to start off today's blog; deal with it.

To start things off, somewhere during my warm-up half of my pedal broke off. I was still able to clip in, but things were pretty loose and I didn't know how long the rest would stay together. I pointed this out to Josh as we were getting to the start line. He happened to have an extra pair of pedals so we rushed to his truck, threw them and on and got back to the line with a minute to spare. Thanks Josh! I've been fighting a cold all week and read a couple of weeks ago that medical science has proven that a cold doesn't affect athletic performance, that is crap. I haven't felt this tired, sluggish and lacking in strength since my first 'cross race 2 years ago. I warmed up on the trainer and felt ok. Then I hit the course and, climbing the enormous hill with extreme difficulty. I didn't realize how big and long it was until later when I was taking pictures and realized what seemed pretty flat in the race and warm-up was not flat at all. It starts with some single-track that's not too bad. Then a semi-tricky steep muddy 3 foot section up to the paved cart path. The path then climbed, and climbed, then climbed some more, up to a 120 degree turn up a fairly steep grassy hill. It was during this first climb of the first lap that I honestly wondered if I could finish the race. I had absolutely nothing in the tank, my legs hurt and had no strength. I literally used my easiest gear on every hill, no matter how small or easy, and still struggled at an unbelievably slow pace.

Up to this point I kept feeling like my rear wheel was a bit wonky. It seemed to hit my brake pads now and then and feel a bit wobbly here and there. I hadn't noticed anything when I put the wheel on or glued the tire on earlier that week. It was at the top of this first grassy hill that I finally stopped to see what, if anything, was the problem. I grabbed the wheel and quickly realized that the bearings in my hubs were loose. Just as I realized the problem, and with the other half of the pack now passing me, some guy said "looks like your cones are loose dude." Yeah, no kidding. I loosened the quick release and hand tightened the hub as much as I could then cranked down the quick release to see if that would hold. Amazingly it did the trick. I have the honest that for a moment this seemed like a problem that was heaven sent, here is the mechanical I needed to honorably bow out of the race. But I had too much pride now so I got back on it and started pedaling. It had now been a couple of minutes, enough time for me to be the absolute last person in the pack. In fact, the pack was nowhere to be seen. I started pedaling by myself still wondering if I made the right choice to keep racing. After a couple of minutes I caught up to Wes riding his mountain bike. Wes had told me earlier that he wasn't racing two races today, he was riding one and racing one. So I decided to just follow along with Wes and just ride for a while instead of race, besides it was nice to have a friendly face to ride with for a while.

I had heard the announcers telling the riders coming through that they had 3 laps to go. When Wes and I rode through they told us 2 laps. Either they made a mistake, or as Wes said, "They're probably just accounting for us getting lapped soon." After a while I found a little more energy and left Wes behind and started cruising a bit. I was starting to feel a little better, maybe catching my 2nd wind. I came down a hill with a turn near the bottom. This particular corner was kind of tricky. It had a couple of smaller hills, forcing you to either take your chances with a tight, and probably slick inside route, the more obvious middle line placed you on the steep side of a small hill in the middle of the corner, or you could take it really wide and avoid most of the problems. I was running a pretty low tire pressure, really low actually since we were riding on bumpy grass it seemed the best choice, so I was feeling pretty confident in my traction and took the corner a little faster than before. My rear wheel slid right out from under me sending me and the bike sliding down the hill, much to the delight of the spectators watching there. My bike and I were no worse for wear so I got back on and started riding. The rest of the lap went fairly well, mostly downhill from here so I was able to get some speed and recover a bit.

I forgot to mention(here's another excuse) that my rear derailleur wasn't working correctly. It seemed to work just fine in the warm-up but as soon as the race started and we hit the first hill I nearly dropped my chain into my spokes, I caught in time and pedaled backwards to get it back on the cassette. From there on out, every time I shifted into my larges(easiest) cog in the back I either dropped the chain into the spokes or I felt it start to go that direction and quickly shifted. As I mentioned before, I used that gear a lot, every hill. So, every time a slight incline appeared I had to gingerly shift to that gear and look to make sure everything was secure and inline. Not being able to confidently shift really takes its toll. You can't just shift and climb up a hill. I had to look to see where I was on the cassette, pedal softly while shifting, making sure everything went where it was supposed to then I could put some pressure on the pedals; what a pain.

Just as I was about to finish lap 3 I hear the announcers say the leaders were coming through for their final (4th) lap. I could either let up and get passed, thus ending the torture or keep pedaling and do a final lap for no other reason than personal honor. I chose the latter and kept riding. I ended up passing a couple more riders, one of which had his bike upside-down fixing his wheel. I managed a 36th out of 42 riders. The worst showing I've had since my first race 2 1/2 years ago. So much for improving. Quite frankly the only reason I care is because the physical exhaustion hurt so much, I really couldn't care less about what place I finished.

This Saturday is Clammy Cross I won't be attending, but you should.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

UTCX #7 - Back to Draper, Back to Puking.

The weather in Northern Utah has been fantastic this week. A warm high pressure system has kept the winds and cold at bay. The race today was fairly warm around 55F. Though the high pressure system is moving so it was pretty windy at times; enough that it felt like I was always riding against the wind. I don't typically fare well on the course in Draper, either a mechanical slows me down or the darn hill that we're forced to ride at the start as well as an extra time to finish kills my legs and lungs (and spirit). I managed to get in a great warm-up on the trainer to start and pre-rode the course. Everything was exactly the same as the previous few races there so no surprises, except a little sand on a downhill, but an outside line avoiding most of the sand became apparent so the sand didn't seem to slow down many of the riders.
I got to the start line early so I could have a first row start. We got the go ahead and sprinted up the hill; I wasn't about to repeat the mistake I made last time by getting stuck behind everyone. My teammates Josh and Ryan had the same idea. We flew up the hill with the leaders then, almost on cue, all three of us blew up and slowed way down, swallowed up by a dozen other racers just as we crested the hill. Luckily a downhill section wasn't too far away so we pushed on. The recovery was nice, but not nearly long enough. Through the horse corral, which thankfully had been soaked and packed down, then up the steep climb. I got to the single-track without too much exhaustion and was happy to be near other riders going about my same speed, not slowed down like last time.
The rest of the laps seemed to tick off very slowly; 5 in all. In the middle of the last lap I had to suddenly pull over and throw up. I've thrown up before after a race, but never during. It wasn't pleasant, and was probably the loudest I've ever thrown up; seriously just yelling as it came up. I got done and felt much better so I got back on it, but not before 10 other riders blew past me; crap. Just as I was heading down the last bit of singletrack before the final climb I saw Josh on the side of the trail trying to inflate his rear tire. Josh has even worse luck on this course than I do. I finished the race without incident and took a seat.
When I checked the results I came in 32 of 40, not very good, but if you figure I lost 10 places from throwing up and Josh says the top 10 are all sandbaggers I really finished in 12th place. If you round down I made top 10. There it is, with the puking handicap I managed a top 10 finish! If only the scoring judges saw it that way.
I didn't get any photos of the crime scene where I violently crashed and ripped a hole in my tubular tire last time, so here for your enjoyment are some photos and captions.

Here is from the bottom of the hill looking up. Notice the rider showing the proper line down the trail and not the out of control direction I ended up taking (I later found out that a loose brake cable was at least partially to blame for this mishap, hard to controls speed when your brakes aren't working). Click on the pictures to enlarge better read the captions.
And now a shot from the top, to demonstrate the view I had as I blazed through the weeds, rocks and stumps to my final landing place.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

UTCX #5 - Halloween Cross

The Wheeler Farm Halloween weekend race seems to be a favorite around here. The combination of a great course and people racing in crazy costumes makes for a really fun time. The Wheeler Farm course is always fun because it combines a good amount of everything. Lots of wide, paved and dirt sections for passing and getting some speed, off camber sections, steep hills, and even a little single-track thrown in. I was riding around doing my warm up, mostly easy pedaling, but with a few hard sprints thrown in to wake up the legs, when I took a corner going pretty fast and felt my rear wheel break loose and get kind of wonky. I looked down at my wheel wondering if I'd broken a spoke or something when I noticed that part of my tire was now off the rim. My first rolled tubular. Luckily this happened during warm-up and not during the race. I had anticipated needing a different tire tread for this race anyway; we'd had some rain the day before. I went to the car and grabbed my other wheel and was in business.
I noticed a little too late that everyone had already started lining up at the start so I got a bad start position with about 40 people ahead of me. I made up a few places on the road, but as soon as we hit the single-track everything backed up pretty bad. A few people hopped off their bikes to run alongside the rest of us, but it was futile, any places they made up were lost when they tried to remount in traffic and got passed again. We hit a couple more traffic jams before the group was sufficiently strung out. I noticed a few of the roadies off the side of the trail in the trees, I assume they went off trail through some of the fast corners.
Over the summer some work had been done on the property. This added a few changes into the mix. The normal paved road that winds through the property is now a hard-packed dirt surface (I'd love to see it when it gets muddy). The major change is a large quantity of sand has been dumped along the river bed in what used to be my favorite "pick up some speed as you fly though the trees" section. Now, it's a "100 feet of deep sand to suck up any energy you have at that moment" section. During my pre-ride I wasn't able to ride through the sand and expected to have to run that section each lap. Luckily during the race I managed to go though without anyone getting in my way and could ride the whole thing. Immediately after the sand was a steep climb out of the river bottom and up to a bridge, then right back town to some a twisty section through the trees and more sand before a double barrier section. Amazingly, this 300 feet of the course was even more exhausting than it sounds. Right after the last barrier it was a 180 turn onto the dirt road. I was always expecting to be able to pick up some speed and ride fast now that I had a decent surface on which to ride; I was wrong. My heart rate and legs were
always so ripped after riding the sand and steep hill that I just didn't have anything left once I got to the road. After talking with some friends it seems I wasn't the only one with that problem.
The rest of the course was relatively easy. Lots of wide fast sections, easy single-track and some sidewalks. There was one really tight corner on the side of hill that we usually ride up; I found out riding down and taking the turn is a little trickier. I always managed to stay upright, but had to watch the speed pretty well to make sure I didn't crash or head way off course.

Some days when you head out on your bike your legs feel great, lots of power and speed, and you feel like you can ride forever. Other days, it's the opposite. Legs are sluggish, your lungs burn and either you can't get your heart rate up or it pops too high too fast and you're left wheezing and slow. I knew as soon as the race started that this wasn't going to be a good day. My legs never felt great and I just didn't have that drive to chase down anyone that passed me. The high point of the race was snagging a $20 in the cash zone, just about paying for my race fee for the day. My Clammy Chamois teammate Josh McCarrel seemed to be doing about as well as I was. I caught up with him with a half lap to go. I was pooped so I just rode on his wheel to the finish, pondering briefly about sprinting past him for 28th place, but quickly changed my mind.

After some time to digest this race, even though the course got a lot harder, I actually like it that much more. It was very fun and very challenging and that's what keeps me interested in racing 'cross.

Monday, October 25, 2010

UTCX #4 - This is getting hard

Do you know what happens when you do a race after not training for a month?
Answer: you dothe hardest race of you can remember and only end up in 30th place.

Note: none of these photos are me, just photos I took of the other races.
This is probably the best planned race that I've ridden. I warmed up on my trainer, making sure to get in some hard sprints to open up the legs. I stopped with enough time to hit the loo and get to the start line to have a first row start. I was ready to go in my new Team Clammy Chamois jersey. We were told to go and everyone went... right around me. Not sure what happened, but it was some combination of being in the wrong gear and an inability to get clipped into my pedal. My front row start turned into an instant 20th place. No problem, roll with the punches. Things got a bit squirrely through the first turn as the pack got funned through a 180 degree turn. After that I settled into a good pace, fast but something I could maintain. We wound through the course, which was being run in the opposite direction as last time. I felt good as we came through the triple set of barriers, the first two right in a row, then you had to turn a tight corner and finish with the last; I didn't like this section as it always seemed rather cumbersome and nothing seemed fast enough. As we headed toward the horse race track I was sure to grab a wheel and run a pace line with 4 other guys. It was nice to have a small amount of recovery time. I managed to race about half the time, keeping people at bay.
Riders would try to pass, but I'd put on the gas and keep them back. That is, until Clammy Chamois captain Josh McCarrel slapped my butt as he flew past me. I wasn't about to let that attack go unpunished so I jumped on the pedals, got past the rider in front of me and barely managed to get behind Josh just before the race track. I maintained the connection for about a lap, then started getting attacked from behind, first one, then another until another Clammy Chamois teammate, Ryan Coburn, came by. I had enough so I pushed through the pain for the next 3 laps and kept close to him. I'd like to personally thank Ryan for towing me around the course for 15 minutes.
As we neared the finish line it was clear Ryan still had something left, whereas I was just hanging on for dear life. He popped ahead about 30 yards to finish ahead of me. Just as I was getting close to the line another rider came up next to me, I tried again, but failed, and he got past me just as we crossed the line.
I coasted to a stop near my team, dropped my bike, and laid on the ground. I feel like I'm starting to get this cyclocross thing figured out. Perhaps it's not a good idea to quit training just as the season starts. With my legs still hurting I vow to get on the stupid trainer tonight and make myself fast(or at least faster) again.