This past weekend I competed in the two day OVCX Kings Cyclocross Race Series. Each day was held at the same location; an old, closed, public golf course. The race course, however, was made complete different each day by changing the direction of the course and the barrier placement. Not only did the organizers change the course itself from Saturday to Sunday, but Mother Nature did her part by adding some precipitation to the mix on Sunday. The contrast from the fast dusty conditions on Saturday to the slick muddy conditions on Sunday did make for some interesting racing.
On Saturday my bike choice was easy to make. I chose my lightweight geared bike with a 1x10 drivetrain and tubular rims/tires. I took the hole-shot at the start of the Saturday Race and seemed to be able to keep my speed pretty high all day. Unfortunately, I made two costly mistakes during the race: one on the first time through the fast double barriers and a second about mid race, when I stacked it again on the same double barrier section. I did not lose many spots on the first mistake, but the second crash created a gap between me and eventual race winner, Phil Nobel, that I could not close. I ended the day in second place, but was happy with my placing considering my barrier mistakes.
The weather man promised rain all morning on Sunday and his prediction proved to be an accurate one for any race held after 10am. From looking at the weather forecast and radar image of the coming rain, I made the decision to race my single speed cross bike on the second day of racing. Before the rain actually fell, I pre-rode the course and thought that my single speed would certainly be the fastest choice on a muddy course. I started the race in a fairly good position, going into the second turn in about 7th place, but then got stuck behind another rider who had crashed right in front of me. This caused me to lose quite a few spots in the pack and also allowed a group of about 5 riders to sneak away from the rest of the pack. I pushed my single speed as hard as I could, but could not close the gap to the lead group. Additionally, the mud on the course started to dry out a bit, which made my single speed choice not such a good one. I definitely think my geared bike would have been faster. I kept wishing for the rain to start falling again during the race, but it never did. I ended up in 5th place by the finish, which gave me third place overall for the weekend.
Overall, it was a really good two days of cross racing. The OVCX guys should be complimented for putting on a fun and well laid out course for each day of racing. Racing two days in a row was a good test of my early season fitness, too. I am probably where I should be for the beginning of the season fitness wise, but I still need a little more time to develop faster cyclocross speed. I think if I can continue doing two races every weekend, I will get my cross racing legs back in no time. Racing cross and the high intensity of doing it, is certainly a lot different than doing a long endurance mtb race. But, I do feel as if I am racing a lot better this year than I was at the same time last year. Hopefully I can build on this good early cyclocross season fitness and have some really good races later in the fall.
This weekend I will be doing the 2nd race of the Team Lake Effect Series in Stark, OH on Saturday and the Raccoon Twp M.O.M. Cyclocross race put on by my friend Dugo on Sunday. Hope to see you all there! Happy Trails - Gerry
To checkout more photos from the OVCX Race, click here