Yesterday, Lorena and I made the short trip over to North Canton to hit up the third race of the Northeast Ohio Cyclocross Series. It's the second year that Stark Velo has hosted the race on the Kent State-Stark campus. Last year, we raced in a downpour and the race was shortened due to lightning. This year, we had sunny skies and temps around 60F.
This would be my first cross race of the season after missing the first two while my ribs healed. I probably would have been fine to race at Wendy Park two weeks ago, but the two weeks prior to that were pretty light on training so, a) I didn't think I'd be as fast as I wanted to be and, b) I didn't want to disrupt the healing process by pushing it too hard, too soon. Since the Wendy Park race I've been back to my usual training schedule and feeling better all the time.
When we lined up to start, I was in the third row beside teammate Mike Chapman. With 46 racers in the B field, it was quite the bunch sprint to the first 180-degree turn and then things started to string out a little bit in the fairly long straight stretch thereafter. I was definitely back farther than I really wanted to be and not very happy with my start. To make things more interesting, I had one little near-crash before the first set of barriers but managed to save it. Good to get those things out of the way on the first lap, though.
The rest of the race I just kept trying to catch the person in front of me and with each catch I felt more motivated. I'm not going to say what song I had going through my head most of the race, but it kept me focused and I was able to catch and pass most of the riders I wanted to beat. In the end, I finished 11th and definitely didn't feel like I'd left anything out on the course. Sure, there were times where I might have been able to pass someone if I'd not taken the line where I got cut off, but that's racing. To be able to keep moving up the entire race was definitely some good affirmation about the progress of my training. The competition was definitely close the entire race as the time span between 6th and 15th places was about 58 seconds. The eventual winner left us in his dust by around 3 minutes.
In the Women's Open race, Lorena rode strong and finished 4th and in the lead group of women that rode the same number of laps as the men. Those top 4 are some fast females!
Looks like the next race we'll be attending will be the October 24th race in Elyria. We have to make our annual fall pilgrimage to Michigan to ride mountain bikes and that happens to coincide with the next CX series race. That month will fly right by.
Before I forget, major props to Aaron Hershberger of the OCC for winning the C-race in his first-ever cyclocross race. Not a bad way to start. Also, major thanks to Stark Velo for once again putting on a great race. The post-race food is certainly appreciated.