Typically the Salisbury course is a decent one for me. It is fast and with both straightaway sections, winding sections and semi-technical wooded paths. There are two dismounts, one over the barriers and one up a brief stair run-up, neither of which are demanding. Anything that keeps me on the bike longer is better for me.
But on this day it simply did not matter.
I have not written up any race reports this year despite starting (and finishing) all four NCCX races this fall. After feeling pretty good on the road toward the end of the summer I had set some reasonable goals for this series of top ten finishes in the Cat 3. After a somewhat disappointing first race in the top 20 I hit near the mark in Raleigh with 11th. That was a great race and lots of Bull City bikes were on hand. A bigger disappointment followed that week with an 18th place in Boone. A nagging hamstring injury had me dragging myself up the hills on that course. The highlight of these last two races was that Linus is really performing. He is starting at the front and finishing well scoring top 10's in both races. I was not and thus have not been too motivated to describe these moments. Back to Salisbury. Chris, Linus and I hit the road from Durham. It was a beautiful, sunny day and by start time the chill morning air had warmed and everyone was feeling good after catching an extra hour of sleep that night. The hamstring injury lingered but I was trying to put it out of my mind. Linus and I lined up and both started well. Linus was up in the top 3 and I was somewhere near the top 10 on the first lap. This had me even or ahead of some of the consistent top ten finishers. On the second lap I hit the barriers, my leg cramped and I lost a place or two. Just after, on the run up a guy decided that I was going too slow in front of him but instead of side stepping he decided to ram me from behind. This was just enough to drop my chain which I realized upon remounting and spinning hopelessly as I got passed by about 8 guys. These are the moments that make or break your race. Mine got broke. I am pretty calm during mechanicals and got the chain back on. Then it hit me how many spots had been lost and suddenly I felt my hamstring again, realized I actually had not gotten that extra hour of sleep, that my kids were asking where their father was, that the last month of work had been filled with 14 hour days and I struggled for the rest of the race. The good news is that I could see Linus up front every once in awhile and I could tell he was doing well. On the second to last lap I had been riding with a guy that I knew from the races. We have generally been at about the same level. I have typically been able to stay away from him on the fast non-techinical sections but he makes up time on me through the difficult ones with really smooth riding. I put in a late attack on one of the long paved straightaways but could not really get any kind of gap. I had no power in my left leg. He passed me at the entry to the last wooded section and slipped away to finish in the top 15. I held most of my ground and finished 18th but had already decided to skip the next race and rest. Linus had a great race and finished 4th narrowly missing out on the podium. I'll let him tell you that story. Regardless he should get a call up this weekend and hope to hear he makes the podium on what should be a challenging course in Charlotte. Chris raced next to a mid-pack finish in the Pro 1-2 race. All these guys are really fast. To put it in perspective some of the top finishers in the Cat 3's who have recently upgraded have struggled in this race finishing close to the back of the pack. So a mid-pack finish is certainly good and I don't have to tell you all how strong a rider Chris is.
We stuck around long enough to talk to Geoff and Corey and watch the first couple of laps of their race and it's great for Bull City Cycling to have a presence in every category.
Rest for me over the next month is an absolute with hopes for better results come winter. You have to be excited about hosting the second to last race of the series with the Regulators out at Orange County. Hopefully everyone will get a chance to check out what is a great cyclocross series. With that I will leave it to Chris, Linus, Corey and Geoff to keep us up to date on the racing scene.