New Love

I think this picture show how much fun I had at my first Cyclocross Race down at Cal State San Marcos last weekend. It's funny that the first time I race my mountain bike (besides Muddy Buddy) it's in a Cyclocross race where mountain bikes are scarce. For those of you that don't know what a Cyclocross bike is, they look like this. Basically an off-road, road bike (if that makes any sense). Although I knew I probably had the heaviest bike of the day, I couldn't resist checking it out especially since it was just down at Cal State San Marcos.  

Future Track Star

It was an 11am start, which was nice cause we could sleep in, get the kids ready in time and head down. Scarlett was able to run around on the track, dance to the pre-race music and the weather ended up being perfect. The course was designed by my friend and fellow BSK Masters champ-Michael Hansen. Since it was my first one, I had nothing to compare it to, but it ended up being a lot of fun. We did 7 laps on a 3k loop (about 13 miles total) which included some barriers, a short steep climb, a mud pit and some technical sections. My only exposure to Cyclocross was from what I had seen online and the documentary Pure Sweet Hell.

 I started in the CX4 class and there were about 30 in our race. I actually saw 4 mountain bikes, so I was not alone! My goal was to just feel out the race. I didn't know how hard I could push or even how long. I haven't even touched interval work on the bike, just some long rides with a lot of climbing (base work). My goal was to just have some fun and compete. It was a mass start and everyone started sprinting. I kinda chilled towards the back and after the first turn, the barriers came and instantly I saw the first crash. Some dude hit the barrier hard (I guess he couldn't unclip?) and there was a pile up right behind him of three other guys. This is awesome! I had practiced for the first time the night before flying dismounts and mounting, and got the hang of it pretty good.
The laps went by pretty fast, but I quickly realized why a light Cyclocross bike could play in your favor. I would make up time on the short downhill and technical sections, but they would just pull ahead on the long straights. So it seemed like the whole race I would be right on the guy ahead of me, then when there was room to pass (on the straights) they would just leave me. I also imagine those barriers and hills where you have to carry your bike would be much easier with 15 less pounds to carry! After seeing another guy hit hard in the mud section (he just layed there until a volunteer helped him off the course), I ended up finishing 16th out of 29 riders and was the 2nd mountain bike to come in out of the 4. I just missed getting some gear by also placing 2nd place as a "first timer." 

I forgot my heart rate monitor, but I would be interested to see how high it got. It seemed like the whole race was spent just under my Lactate Threshold level. I never felt out of control or like I pushed it too hard. I had so much fun and I'm already checking out bikes for next year's season. Another year of training, a light bike and going all out, I know I could be competitive in this. I can't wait to do another and even better, Amy and the kids really enjoyed the atmosphere and the fact that it's very spectator friendly (unlike most running races). After the race, Scarlett immediately insisted on sitting on my lap (which was a great way to end a race). We all just chilled out -checked out the awards and watched the kids have fun.

Planting the seeds for Taylor.

Besides the race, the week of training was pretty low key. Tuesday's night track workout I did 5X1 mile repeats with a 400 meter jog. I ran 5:37, 5:33, 5:24, 5:21, 5:20 for an average of 5:27. My average heart rate was only 172, so I imagine that my 10k pace could potentially be sub 5:30 right now, which is a huge breakthrough from what kind of shape I was for the Dirt Dog Series. I'm starting to see big gains in my running. As for the bike, I just need to continue putting in the mileage and low gear strength work. Swim? You mean I'm supposed to swim!?? Well, I've been putting in about 1-2 days a week lately. Just trying to find the right times to fit it in my schedule consistently.

 I end this post with a "Lucky Bastard," a great new beer from Stone. Although I am not as obsessed with beer (my hobby while I was not training) like I used to be, I still like to enjoy an occasional good craft brew after a hard week of training. Why this beer, well, I really am a lucky bastard. I have such a great support system from my wife, I have two beautiful kids, I have this crazy drive to be an elite athlete again, I have 10+ years of hard endurance training in the bank - that come to find out is slowly starting to reveal itself again (muscle memory is very real). I'm just a lucky bastard. Cheers to the holidays!

Thanks for reading-


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