The soap opera of my ‘cross life continues to unfold. Although I guess if it were a real soap opera it would have been canceled a long time ago. Can’t see the adventures of a 38 year-old bike racer even getting in the door for a pitch.
As mentioned in the preview from last week’s entry, this weekend was another double race adventure. Saturday was the Oregon State Championships race in Salem, fittingly the State’s Capital, also fittingly for the cross racing as of late, it was the third straight week racing at a fairground. Excluding the fact that the course terrain was so flat, the course designers made a pretty fun course, with lots of variety from dry dusty barns, running through a sand volleyball court, a motocross course and of course lots of muddy grass. Being the defending Masters 35 champion I chose to defend my title and race the Masters race. It was fun lining up with some of the guys I had raced with for the past two years. Erik Schultz has been killing it in the Masters this year so I expected him to be the main person to stick with, as well as Tim Butler, Tim Jones and John McCaffrey. Sure enough, from the start it looked like most of the above were in the front along with Doug Reid from Seattle who made the drive down for the race. After about 3/4 of a lap, Erik, Doug and I were a bit off the front heading into the barns. Surprisingly, the slipperiest part of the whole course was also the driest. The course wound through the Fairgrounds main arena that had about 4” of dry dirt on the floor, if you went the slightest bit off the main track you were bound to wash out. Even knowing this going in, I still lost a little in the first barn, then on to the moto cross track where I found out my front brake wasn’t working so good, resulting in me crashing in the first sharp turn and Tim Butler and Joel Wilson catching me. Over the next lap I almost got back up to Erik and Doug, when I almost crashed on the moto cross track again. For the rest of the race it was more of the same, I would open a gap on Tim and Joel and then screw up the moto-cross section were-in they would gain on me. Meanwhile Erik slowly separated from Doug who I never seemed to gain on. Finally I managed to open a bit of a gap on Tim who had gotten away from Joel. Feeling like I could ride it in on the last lap, Margi yells to me that Doug just had a mechanical and is just ahead. So I high tail it and catch him just as he goes in to the pit for a new bike with less than a lap to go. Fortunately I held him off to steal 2nd place.
The rain continued to fall Saturday night, setting Sunday up for some real cross. Throw in that Sunday was also the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championship (SSCXWC) and it was a heck of a day of racing. Too bad my racing didn’t live up to it. Had another miserable start as I found my rear wheel spinning when the whistle blew. I was about to call it quits after the first 1/4 lap, but seeing some Weaver and Steven Hunter in front of me kept me racing. The first lap was crazy, all the off-camber sections were just slick as can be. There was a lake of a puddle to ride through that had some bump in the middle of it that you couldn’t see but made it feel like you were riding a bucking bronco (Margi actually got bucked on her first lap). The race quickly turned into a race of attrition, and I felt like one of the attritioners (not a word is it?).
I managed to get away from Weaver and some others, and found myself on my own. In my effort to make up time on the paved straight, I had my head down and looked up too late to see a pothole. I pulled the front wheel up but the back wheel slammed it.
Score: Pothole 1; Carbon rim 0.
That made a crappy race, crappier, and really expensive. I could hear the rim creaking as I kept riding it, but I unfortunately missed the pit entrance, and as I cursed it out loud, Patrick Wilder heard and asked if I needed a new bike, I told him I had a green Kona and sure enough, next time around he was standing there with my pit bike ready for me and gave me a PRO hand-off to boot. On top of that he went and got a replacement wheel for the A bike in case I needed it again. What a guy. Didn’t get a chance to thank him after the race, so if you’re reading this PW, thanks! About this time Matt Fox had caught up to me so I had something to race for. We went back and forth for a couple laps. The last time he got up to me, he says “lets go get ‘em Scott”, then three seconds later I hear a grunt and crash and look back to see him down. I dug in and cruised to the finish to get pulled early so they could start the SSCXWC on time. For the first time I was happy to be yanked early. In the end I was 20th place. So sad.
A bright point of the weekend was Margi taking 2nd in the Women’s B State Championship race, she then went on to race the A women race on Sunday. Her result wasn’t as good but she was smiling the whole time. I give her a lot of credit, that was one of the hardest races of the year, not an easy one to have to as your first foray into the A’s. She’ll be killing soon enough.