I was dubious about this race. A new venue, an unfamiliar promoter, same day as the Apple Core, poorly promoted. It seemed kinda ... slapped together.
I gotta say: we need more slapped together races.
In truth, it was Thom’s birthday that brought me to McMenamin’s today, and I hope this becomes a tradition.
I rode out to the race in a steady rain, arrived soaked and freezing (especially my fingers), but well prepared for racing. Incidentally, this was my first ride down the Springwater trail since ... 2003? ... and it is fantastic. It’s really all spruced up, and I noticed the abutting neighborhoods are upscaling as well.
Anyway, really glad I previewed this race, as it was full of curveballs. Gravel then mud. Gravel on mud. Blind curves then curbs. Blind curves then curbs then barriers. Barriers at the bottom of hills. Four — count ’em FOUR — run ups, well one was theoretically rideable (I did so on the preview) but I never rode it a second time and neither did anyone else. All were so slippery that I often went down on my knees. One was so steep I had to pick out toeholds and use my hands.
And the mud, oh my the mud. So slippery. Felt more like skiing than riding.
So: a highly technical course (yay!), with rewards for good fitness (boo!). I fairly crawled up those runups. Altogether the design felt like either total genius or total idiocy. Like: someone saw a book about cyclocross and set out to make a cyclocross course, but without ever having raced cyclocross.
Fun. Really, no sarcasm: fun. Crusade courses in particular have a real Euro style which favors strong legs and tactics, they lack chaos and WTFness. Not the Poor Farm.
The small field (43 guys), technical nature, and loooong laps (12+ minutes) really stretched out the field. Often I was out of sight of my competitors. It was really hard to read my placement on the first two laps. Then on lap 3 a spectator hollered encouragement at the guy behind me: “catch that guy [viz: me] and you’ll be in seventh!” Holy hand grenades that was like pure Go Juice straight into my thighs. I put the hammer down and suffered up and over everything, swearing I wouldn’t lose my precious seventh place. I couldn’t quite hold that but still had my best finish ever: eighth place.
Having resort guests (and a wedding party!) randomly at hand added to the beautiful WTFness today. One woman, incredulous, asked: “do you actually like doing this?” More than you can imagine.
Jenny and the kids stayed home, so I had a long day. Amenities like indoor bathrooms and a heated on-site pub made the experience feel positively luxurious.
Usually I wait to post my reports until I can get a photo or two, but this result was too good to wait. Also, I’m racing Barton tomorrow — my favorite course last year — so we’ll have more reportage tomorrow or Monday.