I PINNED ON A NUMBER TODAY
i haven't been motivated to race this year but today was the last race in the MFG Cyclocross series, and with a little coaxing from my friend Jeff, i pinned on a number. below is a recap from this special race.
the MFG cyclocross series finale is held at Woodland Park, adjacent to the Woodland Park Zoo and Green Lake, both popular POIs here in Seattle. the park's urban location makes it highly accessible for racers and spectators alike, and the finale easily draws more racers (+10-20% in any given category) over other races in the series. the park offers a lot for racers too. the mostly flowing course typically features a climb many dread (and openly curse), a few off camber corners to keep it interesting, rad cruising through the trees, the famous Hodala corner, and other treatments (including the last corner before the finish that never fails to trip up riders despite it being a perennial hazard).
being November in the PNW, it's a good bet the weather will be cyclocross appropriate. long gone are the dry, dusty races of september. today's weather did not disappoint. some overnight (and morning) drizzle ensured the corners were a little slippery and greasy, keeping racers honest but not to the point where the race turned into a giant mud bog. the rain ceased just in time for my race AND the sun even managed to make an appearance. it couldn't have been more perfect, really.
as the call-ups for my race started, i parked myself in the very back of my category; i was here to have fun and didn't want to interfere with anyone who was seeking points. after a short wait, we were off and the collective cacophony of racers clipping into their pedals drowned out the ambient noise temporarily.
being at the back is not the place you want to start if you're trying to be competitive. it's said in cyclocross that you don't necessarily win a race at the start, but you sure can lose a race with a bad start. it's so true. as we rolled into the first corner, a growing bottleneck of riders caused a chain reaction slowdown to the point that those of us in the back nearly had to come to a complete stop. a few racers did. i managed to stay clipped in and used the opportunity to move up a few spots as the slinky effect played out. as we flowed along through the trees we came to the first run up and i used it to leap frog past a couple of additional riders. i repeated the maneuver again at the second run up and barriers section. soon we were on the dreaded climb and i used it to push past still more riders. at the crest of the climb, i caught my breath and cruised into the legendary Hodala corner. the corner, made famous by the team of the same name (and staple of the Seattle CX scene), boasts a snow making machine, fire pit, loudspeakers blasting metal, and Grade A heckling. In past years, this corner has been pretty slick and has been the scene of some spectacular wipeouts, but not this year. i took the corner slowly, unsure of the conditions and finding it pretty tacky i soft pedaled through the corner and motored along to finish out the first lap.
After lap one, with part one of my personal mission accomplished (do a strong first lap), i settled into cruise control to fulfill my second goal (have fun!). i was determined to finish and enjoy all 45 minutes of racing, and that's precisely what happened. as i made my way around the course, i was propelled by cheers from friends and heckling from strangers (when you ride a pink bike, you're bound to hear some good heckling). near the finish of my second lap i spied the wife and the girl. i gave a quick wave and big smile; it meant so much they were there to see me race.
forty-five minutes after my first pedal stroke, i crossed the line in 56th place. i wasn't last. i wasn't first. but it didn't really matter where i finished because i had so much fun. and unlike last year, i finished. yeah, i know i could have gone harder and "buried" myself but whether i get 30th place or 56th place, it's all the same to me. more important to me is having fun. after i crossed the finish line, my first priority was to find the wife and the girl. when i did, the first thing the girl said was that i was dirty. hilarious (and true).
after catching up with the wife and the girl, we met up with the Native crew and then my friend Jeff, whom i rode to the race with, and his family. we chatted for a bit, savoring the atmosphere and post race high. just as he and i set out for the ride home, the rain resumed. i paused momentarily to appreciate just how special those 45 minutes had been while the rain started to wash away the mud on me and my bike. like the sun which made an appearance during the race, MFG Woodland Park shines as an example of what makes cyclocross in Seattle fun and special.
Thanks to my buddies Jose (pics below) and Bryan (thumbnail image on homepage), as well as the wife (pics inline) for capturing the race. and, lastly, thanks to everyone who cheered -- you all make the race. until 2015...
MFG #6 STATS
WHERE: Woodland Park, Seattle, WA
WHEN: 09 November 2014, 11.15a
WEATHER: 48°F, Sun and clouds
CATEGORY RACED: Category 3, Masters Men 35yo+
PLACING: 56/68 (71 starters)