The past few weeks I've started to feel a little like I've become the Joe Piscopo of cross racing... somewhat well known and accomplished, but not what anyone would consider top shelf. The good news is that I'm getting better results and winning the races within the race, but I've got a bit more work to do.
The site of today's almost spectacular race was the Verge race at Sterling. The forecast called for ridiculous cold at 7 when I planned to get there and ma nature did not disappoint. I had about 5 layers on for warmups and I think I needed every one of them. A quick spin around showed that the course was a good bit different than last year. The staircase on the up-n-down was gone since they had to ditch it last year to be UCI legal anyways. They also broken up the long straights along the driveway near the pits with some additional turns and up-n-down fun. Lastly the approach to the run up was very different and made it almost rideable for those better than me (note: I saw Luke Keough go up it in the juniors race and almost fell over). I registered sorta late so I lined up 5th row or something like that. Fortunately with the cinder track at the start there was lots of room to move up and I had it in my head all week that I had to bust the start to make up a few spots. Well I could have done it better, but I did get an OK start and did pass some guys. Into the dip before the runup some guy(s) ate it and there was a good bit of chaos. Fortunately I only got hung up a little and was able to get back in it. After that, the story is really pretty typical for me. I got passed by almost nobody, blew past some of the quick starters, and spent the whole race chasing Cookie (passed him with a lap to go). I rode semi-clean, but did have a couple of bobbles, one of which cost me. On the big up-n-down on the final lap I could tell I had a guy right with me and that I was somewhere in the top 20. I had ridden the hill all but one lap where there was some traffic and I had it set up well again until a guy I was lapping dismounted right in front of me and I was forced off. The guy behind me was able to go wide, power over the top, and get a gap. Try as I might, I just couldn't get him back. Turns out that was the race for 10th... dammit.
I really can't be all that disappointed with 11th in a bigger race, especially one where I finished an unimpressive 31st last year, but I still want to reach that next level. At this point in the season, it's just tuneup for my quest to not get lapped at Nats. Seeing that I didn't ride for July, August, and the beginning of September, I should take what I can get and be happy with it.
Oh, and the MRC crew continued to rock the cat 4 race... I think today it was 3rd, 5th, 11th, 13th, and 21st with the comeback kid Manny Goguen coming in 21st after riding the first few laps in the lead pack. Great to see him back out there!