Race report time, this one for the two races held in Guelph this weekend. First up was the True North CX and Single-speed CX Nationals. Friday night I went out with the TN crew to hammer stakes for Saturday's course. We worked until dark and went out for food after, leaving me with a pretty short sleep before my race. Arriving at the venue, I got changed and signed in, and then hit the course for a couple laps. All the off-camber was quite ridable and overall it was a good course aside from being entirely too bumpy, and also containing too many 180° turns for most people's preference.
On the line they told us we were starting 20 seconds behind the M3s, not the usual minute. That didn't sound good to me, but it wasn't as bad as I thought, since both fields were small enough that the M3s didn't get in the way too much when lapping through (which did happen very quickly). The whistle blew, and as I went to clip in I kicked my rear brake, tried to go and found my wheel locked up. I hopped off and quickly pulled the brake out from under the rim as everyone rode away. With a long gravel start, I was able to catch the leaders right before the first turn, but I had put out a big effort to get them. There was a group of 4 of us, which I worked to the front of over the first half lap. Soon after, Mark Romeril and I would ride off the front and leave the others for the duration of the race. Mark and I were back and forth a lot, with gaps as big as 10 seconds or so opening up at times, but it was 2 to go when Mark re-caught me and dropped the hammer. I had nothing, so he went and put 30 seconds on me before I would finish 2nd for the day.
Later that evening, True North hosted the SSCX national championships back at the shop. They mowed about 1km of course through the bumpy field behind the shop, and we "raced" around that for awhile until the winners were decided. Of course racing was not the main attraction here. Instead, the best part was the free beer, pulled pork BBQ and live band. With draws for many great prizes including a True North frame, it was a great night.
Of course that night of fun left me pretty tired for the Speed River Guelph cross on Sunday. I lined up to see many more of the fast folks from my category out and knew it would be a tough day. I had hopes of doing well, and wanted to beat Mark and Noah, guys who are around my speed and can give me a good challenge as they have both beat me before. I took a couple swpes at my pedal off the start and again found myself chasing, but not nearly as bad as the mishap on Saturday. I was hanging off the back of a front group, but they were charging hard off the start and I knew I would not match their pace. Over the first lap I did catch Dave Brown and Geoff Hartley, who I would see more of later. I pushed hard but found my legs weren't there and it was a matter of survival. Geoff was never more than 10-20 seconds back and would get closer if I had a slow lap, but I held him off. With about a lap to go, I saw that Dave had caught up to Geoff and they were both close behind me. The last half of the lap had me pushing to hold them off, and I managed to keep a couple seconds between us so there was no sprint finish. I think those two sprinted it out with Geoff coming out on top. I finished one spot out of the money for the day in 5th, my worst for the season thus far though I'm not surprised. I'll chalk it up to the rough shape Friday/Saturday left me in, but the guys up front were really killing it and deserved their results for sure.
I must say, racing hard for 5th was way more fun than killing it on the front, but at the same time the result is not as satisfying. Hopefully I have my bad luck for starts out of the way, and I look forward to some of the faster competition showing up to some of the upcoming races.
Next weekend is the Hillbilly Hustle CX at Highlands Nordic near Collingwood on Saturday. For Sunday I'll make a morning of decision about the ZM Cycle Oktoberfest cross, depending how Saturday goes.