Saturday, November 15, 2014

race report: Gateway Green Community CX

Gateway green Community CX was a demonstration event designed to showcase what might be possible as Gateway Green is developed into a bike-friendly city park. Friends of Gateway Green are raising money to help pay the costs of the first phase of development. They got permission from the city to hold this event only about a month ago, and scrambled to get everything in place: course design, volunteers, sponsors, and a raffle.

All told, for a grass-roots cyclocross event, it was a lot of fun. Sparse attendance was probably mostly due to both the short notice for the event and the fact that it was pretty cold today (lows in the upper 20s, high around 40F). Muddy ruts made during the course design phase yesterday had frozen solid overnight, and did not thaw completely until the last race of the day. Due to current space limitations at the undeveloped greenspace, the course itself was rather short for a 'cross course -- they're usually around 2 miles long, and I'm not sure this one was even a full mile long. But what it lacked in length was more than made up for in some of the challenges: the long run-up was even longer and taller than the legendary run-up at barton park; and there was no gravel on which to gain a foothold. The entire length was slick, semi-frozen grass punctuated by thorns and brambles that had not been pulled from the course. Follwing that was a switchback that led to a slightly off-camber downhill that was slick with peanut-butter type mud; the key here was simply to watch your speed, let go of the brakes and coast down. This turned out to be the most fun part of the course for me.

The final part of the course, was a series of small berms, short-track style, through some trees and increasingly steeper and harder to ascend; the last berm required a lot of speed or you simply would not get up it all the way -- and if you didn't make it all the way up you could easily fall backwards and down the berm again, which I did twice.

I raced at noon, which was pretty ideal in terms of temperature and mud; most women completed 10 or more laps. I was on pace to finish 6 but had to stop halfway through my race for an urgent call from mother nature, which meant giving up a lap in the process. Because this was an unsanctioned, demonstration event, my re-entry into the race was no problem. If this had been an OBRA-sanctioned, competitive event and i had baled like that, I would've been listed as DNF and not allowed to hop back on the course to finish. I was glad for the unsanctioned component; it took a lot of pressure off and let me simply enjoy myself and the thrill of riding in the mud again, something I realized I'd missed.

It was nice to reconnect with old teammates and friends who were glad to see me back on my race bike. Still, My cough all the way home reinforced why I had felt it necessary to walk away from racing cyclocross. I am home now, drinking hot tea and hoping the itch in my throat will stop after a good night's sleep. I'm not scheduled to sing anywhere professionally for a little while, but I do need to take care of my voice.

I took some photos when I wasn't racing myself, mostly Singlespeed with a few shots from Mens' B and C:

All in all, a lovely, fun day. Taking nothing away from OBRA, of course; but sometimes the pressure to race and ignore one's physical issues makes it hard for me to enjoy the sport. Given the chance to do more unsanctioned races, I would absolutely sign up.

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