Since I didn’t do any shooting at the Sierra Point Night Cross (too busy enjoying the company of friends and teammates), I decided to change it up a little and post my race report from both races. Enjoy!
Racing Category: Sandbaggers (AKA Open C)
Sierra Point is my most attended venue. I’ve raced this three times now, ever since I picked up CX 3 years ago (damn has it been that long already?). Every year I feel like I’m not prepared enough. Last year, they added the bridge staircase which made it even tougher. This year, though, I thought it was a lot easier than the two before it. Let me explain.
As soon as I heard that Murphy Mack was going to reuse his Cesspool of Filth (from the SSCXWC last year) at Stafford Lake, I put it on my calendar and made it a point to go. Having done not-quite-enough drills with the MBCX crew (thanks Tom and everyone!), I felt less than adequate about having a go at one of the tougher courses in NorCal. The thing that made this race HARD was the staircase in the middle. It was unrideable. The staircase would totally mess with my rhythm, spike my HR, and just ruin the day for me. It also didn’t help that I started in the first third of the field, placing me in an area where people were going ALL OUT in the first lap. After looking at my lap times, I knew that was a mistake, because despite my first lap being my fastest, my later 3 laps were horrible, behind in minutes!
Coming off a week after Stafford Lake, I had a plan for Sierra Point: I’d start at the back of the field. And it was a large field: 86 sandbaggers were announced. It’d take it easy on the first lap, saving my strength of when it counted: a consistent lap time (there were 6 laps), and a fast final lap. It also saved me from getting tangled in the melee of crossers going up the first few climbs of the mesa. It really looked like a pile of bodies and wheels. The plan would be to see how many people I could pass in the race, helping me both psychologically as well as physically, in the later laps. The result was a surprisingly easier race than Stafford Lake and previous Sierra Point races.
Some of the highlights at Sierra Point included a dude on his first CX race trying to pass me on the second lap like his life depended on it, a suspicious barrier setup right before a long running section that ended in a hairpin at the top of a hill, and a guy struggling on the last lap to keep me from passing him by endoing into a downhill (protip: crashing is always slower ~ Murphy Mack). The first barrier section has always been challenging; this year they placed it a little farther from the climb it led into, but the trail behind the barriers prevented almost any form of remount at speed–it was too rough! The solution was to suitcase the bike across the barriers and keep it aloft until after the hairpin, where a downhill section would aid in the remount.
Throughout the race, I noticed that I had no power; on the paved straightaways, I would easily get dropped by the guys in front of me. But in the dirt and technical sections, I surprisingly made up any lost ground. The race allowed me to use the “smooth” remount technique that Tommy C always preaches: the remount shouldn’t place any unnecessary stress on the bike. I expected my low power, and my lack of training really shows here, but I still felt that I was able to practice the bike handling skills in this race. Many people also made the mistake of attempting a remount past the first set of barriers, where a run was all but mandatory to maintain a reasonable speed.
My last lap was where I just let it all out. There was almost no one contesting with me through the course, at least until the last section. I kept passing anyone I saw ahead of me. In the last dirt section to the finish, one racer was peskily not allowing me to pass him. I left him hanging out in front for a little while longer, as I knew where I’d get a chance to try a pass: the last hairpin onto the pavement. And pass I did, as he went wide and I cut on the inside, turned on my so-called “sprint” and almost crashed into the right barricade because it hurt so much. :-p
He never caught me.
Stafford Lake CX placing: 32/~40 (bottom 25%)
Sierra Point Night Cross placing: 43/86 (glass half full of beer!)
The Cesspool of Filth (Stafford Lake CX) claims another victim (ISO 320, 200mm, f/2.8, 1/3200″)
2012 Stafford Lake CX on Google+