Kirkland Cyclocross: The season is under way

My first weekend for the 2012 cyclocross season is in the books. Racing on both Saturday and Sunday was a great way to just jump right into the season. Okay, so I have been training for it, and I did try to start in August, but if you read my previous post, you know the Monson race didn’t go so well. So, this past weekend, September 15 and 16 was my start for 2012.

I really can’t say too much about Saturday’s Blandford Beer ‘Cross. It was just not a good day for me. The race was held at Blandford Ski Area in MA and the course was set up at the base of the mountain. It was a typical cyclocross course with tight turns, two run-ups (one was actually rideable), two sets of barriers and the “spiral of despair”. I’m sure it was a pretty decent, but I was just a mess on the course. I couldn’t get any flow in my riding and after about 20 minutes, I pretty much stopped racing and just rode for the remaining 20 minutes. I wasn’t last, but I was 59th out off 66. This was a race to just throw away and forget. And that is just what I did.

Sunday I drove the opposite direct to Clinton, NY for the Kirkland Cyclocross race. Race number one of the Cyclocross Series. Last year was the first time I raced Kirkland and being held immediately after a hurricane and a tropical storm, the course was like sponge and very difficult to ride. This year, the course was in great shape. And a great course. A course that definitely suited me better. The course was set up with wide turns, sharp turns, rideable ups, fast downs and a run-up that NO ONE is going to ride.

I was lucky enough to be called up and start in the front row. So no traffic to contend with right away. From the start, I felt so much better and stronger than the day before. I was able to hang in with the first 4 or 5 riders for the first lap. After that, the stronger riders from behind were working their way to the front. So I just settled in and rode my own pace. And it seems that I have improved over the last couple of years, because my pace was a pretty strong pace. I was able to pedal through turns. My mountain bike skills allowed me to ride sections with little or no braking. And the Kenda Slant Six tires held every single turn. I had no worries about slipping and sliding and losing traction. I ended up finishing 16th out of 31 riders. I also finished on the lead lap…and that hasn’t happened in a long time.

Racing Cat 4 is much better for me than racing Maters 1/2/3. Although USA Cycling may consider Cat 4 as the “beginner” class in cyclocross, anyone who races Cat 4 knows that isn’t the case. Sure, there are beginners in Cat 4, but there are mostly good, solid, strong riders that makes for a very competitive and fast race. It was also very cool hearing some of my Masters friend cheering me on.

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