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Cyclocross in Southern California: A Look From the Outside In, Part 2
You may have read about Brian’s antics in early season SoCal cyclocross last month, and now, back by popular demand, he’s filling us in on where his season is now.
by Brian Co
Los Angeles- I don’t really make it here much but when I do, it’s usually for true authentic dim sum, LAX, or something bike-related. Sunday was two out of the three. There were several simultaneous events over the on Sunday starting with SCPS #2 DTLA Historic Cyclo-via, a street bike festival, a wooden circulus velodrome and all the people that make it great. Recumbents, bike strollers, tons of fixie hipsters, a live jazz band and everything in between, and set right near Chinatown with downtown Los Angeles as the backdrop. This race featured some of the largest fields yet.
After learning my lessons from last week’s race, I decided I would come prepared. I came early to brave the anticipated registration lines, I put some new beefier tires on the wheels and checked the pressure every ten minutes, I got to preride the course several times to get it dialed in. I even watched the new Jeremy Powers ’cross camp DVD. Those were the things I could control and worked well in my favor.
The things not working in my favor: my crash from last week’s race when the cut on my knee got infected and I almost couldn’t walk during the week. Also, on Wednesday night, while out for a ride on a routine descent, a depressed bee flew into my forehead and stung me. It hurt like heck and two days later my face had swollen to the point where I could barely open my eyes. Two doc visits and three prescriptions (all legal) in a week did not build a ton of confidence.
That did not stop me for this race, as I was determined. At the race, things started to look familiar. Some of the same people, same teams, same announcer gave me a little more calmness and shook out those “first day of school” jitters from last week. Yet, in LA there are always surprises and in this case there were a few overenthusiastic parents riding on course with there kids, yelling at them while they raced. Do they do that on the soccer field too?
After waiting for an hour in the prereg line and doing all of my race rituals, the racers staged and waited there for another twenty to thirty minutes. There were over a hundred racers crammed into a small area. I usually get quiet and focus but it was hard to this time. There were the usual jokesters and hecklers, a few guys standing next to and then slinging their legs over their bike. One guy got a miraculous flat and had to quickly find a spare wheel. A few guys were gawking at women whose actual age didn’t match their body parts age.
They called us up to the line to spread out six across and it was a mad dash for fifty meters to the actual start. I started to get squeezed out of place and I was sitting in about thirtieth place. More waiting and I performed my OCD routine of clicking ratchets three times. Once on the helmet and two for each shoe buckle. On the whistle it was a dust cloud and dash for the hole shot another hundred meters away. Feet unclipped and a guy went down hard which cost me momentum. Luckily I was able to pick guys off until I could count the lead rider to me. I picked enough riders off to hold about 11th place. I was feeling good but was hoping the frantic first lap pace would settle as it usually does.
First lap done and halfway through the second, the bike was not handling. I look down and the rear tire has no air. I stop, knowing I don’t want to ruin the wheel, pull out a huge wooden chip in the middle, pick my bike in frustration and slam it back down. I’m 0 for 2 on this course as the same thing happened last year. I was used to riding on grass and dirt but these new playground style wood chips would be the bane of my existence. I shamefully go under the race tape and for a second and take in the sights of all the onlookers.
I hate not finishing a race after all that prep but that is the nature of racing. Not the best way to spend my birthday no less. Next race is uncertain for me but will be a cat up as I am gaining more fitness but need to take time to heal. Until then …
Find Brian on Twitter at @cojbrian
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