Cross Crusade #2
Single Speed Category
North Plains, Oregon
October 14, 2007
Do to an active 'social calendar' (two birthdays for two kids starting at 2:30) I wasn't able to race in my regular category (35+ A). Instead I opted to break out the 29er and ride in the single speed category. It was a beautiful fall day - warm and dry. Probably the last one of these this year.
Hornings Hideout is one of my favorite courses (at least it was last year). It was the race last year that really put me in the running for the series and gave me the confidence to really push myself the rest of the crusade. It is not a mountain bike course as some declare it to be, however it definitely suits those of us with mountain bike skills. There is no pavement and all the really fast stretches are on gravel paths and roads. the rest of the course is made up of single track, dirt trails, etc.
The start climbs out of the amphitheater bowl (they do concerts there) and joined the course after a few hundred yards. My nerves had gotten the best of me as I was waiting in the lineup and I pulled a total rookie maneuver at the start by not being able to click in to my pedal. This unfortunately cost me the good starting position going up the hill that I had.
After the initial climb, the first half of the course trended down and traversed a bumpy meadow that was slick with wet grass (it was here that I crashed for thankfully the first and only time), gravel road, buffed trail, and more bumpy meadow. At the far side of the course, the hills began. First up was the “run up,” and immediately following were three short steep terraces. Then began a series of hills interspersed with brief descents through some fairly nice trails. The final bit of climbing went up a gravel road to the top of the course. The last bit went up to the finish line went though a double set of barriers and past the officials/announcers tent.
As I mentioned earlier my first lap was pretty pitiful. I started badly and then slid out on on a corner. Each one of these missteps cost me places and required that I crawl and fight my way back towards the front. I never quite made it, but at least finished on the winners lap (7 laps). My final placing was 17th (though I think I actually placed a couple of places higher based on others I finished with...) out of 78 riders. Not to bad, but not nearly what I had been hoping for (I was really shooting for a top 10).
I've been racing fixed gear & single speed mountain bikes for the last couple of years. Often against the same group of guys (weirdos). This course really handed me my a$$ on a platter where I was really wishing for a few lower gears. Kudos to the guys that race single speed week after week.
On a side note, the following video (about 7 minutes long) is pretty cool. It was shot by racer Scott Barker with a reverse camera mounted on his helmet. It really gives some great perspective on the course (and a cross race in general). Best of all, I get some pretty good face time at the 3:12 time mark. You can see me get passed, fall back, speed up again approach from behind, chase for awhile and then pass. (I'm wearing a black & blue Cyclepath Jersey, black shorts with a blue stripe and a black helmet). Enjoy