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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Is sandbagging really so bad? 

So on a whim, I rolled out to Langley this morning for the cyclocross race.

They had an A, B, and Beginner race, and I decided, on an admittedly marginal call, to race the Beginner race. I justified this as follows:

1) I am a Cat 4

B) This was my first 'cross race ever

iii) I would be doing it on a mountain bike

and finally) I have hardly any off-road technique.

In retrospect, iii) was probably an advantage (Kevin Noiles had bitter words for the course, and many called it out as a "mountain bike course"). B) was probably overblown, since I have raced MTBs before, and finally), I don't think anyone else in the race had any more off-road technique than I, and I had learned the approved 'cross dismount from Corky. 1) holds up fairly well, except that Ron Klopfer, WTNC Cat 4 champion, did the B race (and, I fear it must be said, beat Gord).

So the punchline is that there were 8 starters in the Beginner race, including Graham and Kenny from my club. Everyone else on the line had a cyclocross bicycle. I took off from the gun, looked back after the starting straight, and nobody had come with me. When you've started to gap the race on the opening gravel road, with a mountain bike, you may have chosen the wrong category.

I lapped two riders in a 40-odd minute race where my lap times ranged from 7'00" to 7'40"ish. I was minutes ahead of second place.

The course itself was hilarious good fun. Too mountain-bikey? It was technical. There was a water crossing, a steep climb, a log barrier, a couple of board obstacles, and various other bits of terrain that were fairly extreme by 'cross standards. I also heard one guy point out that the usual spec for cyclocross calls for the course to be at least 3m wide at all points, which means that you can pass freely in almost all circumstances. Large chunks of this course were singletrack, and passing could only happen with considerable daring or the cooperation of the rider being overtaken.

Regardless of whether it was properly a mountain bike or a cyclocross course, the race itself was great. I will do more. Now, can I really fit narrow cross tires on The Whip? Maybe...

So, um, next race I do as a B.

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