Cross courses this season have been pretty exceptional, with little mud and fast conditions. This weekend all of that changed. I did two races this weekend, both in nasty, muddy conditions. On Saturday, I did the first day of racing near Trenton, NJ at the Mercer Cup USGP Race. On Sunday, I traveled to Cleveland for the Lake Effect Cycling Team Broadview Heights Cyclocross Race.
Initially I said that I did not see the point in doing the USGP Races in NJ in my last blog, but I could not pass-up a front line call-up at the race. I probably should have stuck to my initial thoughts about doing the race now that I look back in hindsight. The race course was a mess, covered in a thick peanut butter type of mud that required racers to run a large part of the course. I had a great start, going into the first hard left turn in third place, but that position vanished quickly when we all had to dismount and begin running through the thick mud. I don't usually mind running, but I easily start to become frustrated with a race when I am doing nothing but slow running with heavy muddy feet and have little opportunity to get my bike up to speed. By the end of the race, I finished in 13th with about three middle gears working on my rear cassette due to mud and course tape being jammed in my rear derailleur. I should have used my single speed, but I unfortunately did not bring it to the race. From what Andy tells me, the racing on Sunday at the USGP was in even worse conditions than Saturday's Race.
So, Sunday's Race was muddy too, but the mud was not as thick, which made it much easier to ride. There were definitely sections on the course that did require some extra effort to power through the mud, but nothing even close to the bog that I attempted to ride through the day before. I came to the race on Sunday with only one bike; my single speed. I figured it would be muddy and after the lesson learned the day before, I decided that the single speed would be the best choice. The choice did seem to be a good one, since I ended up as the overall winner of the race.
What I learned this weekend is that when it comes to racing in the mud, I would much rather ride in a wet, thinner mud than on a course covered in a thick mud. I like that mud does require more technical skills to riding a course smoothly, but I don't like when it completely takes away from actually being able to ride the majority of the course. Every cross course is different, though, so I guess it is just a matter of playing the cards you are given. Now that the weather in the region seems to have taken a turn for the worse, I guess mud will now be a factor at all remaining races, including nationals. Maybe I should start running and riding in this thick muddy retention pond near my home to better prepare for this type of racing....I hope you know that this is only a joke! - Later, Gerry