Day 1, Saturday, Lembi Park. Nevermind all I went through to get to this one, I will spare you those details, but just know it was a struggle. A big shout out goes to a colleague friend of mine who was present and hanging with my kids while I raced. A number of bay area racers showed for this one, which kept the pace high and made it such that I never saw the top four riders after the first half a lap. With around four laps to go, the 2 leaders from the 45+ group caught me. I was able to stay with them and eventually, we picked up another 35+ rider. As I rounded the side of the course near the road, I hear a shout from a passing car....Go Captain!! TacoStrong!!! On the next lap that individual, who turned out to be none other than Folsom's own "Squish" gave me another shout out and then got on with his day. Spot on mate. On the second to last lap I lapped a single speed racer, I thought he was a B racer warming up, so I wasn't too nice about asking for some room to pass. He yelled at me and threatened to push me off my bike. I told him I would be happy to fight him at the finish line. During the last lap, one of the 45+ riders pulled away, one dropped off, and I started battling with my 35+ opponent. I got a bit sideways in the second sand pit and he was able to put a gap on me that I was unable to close. And that was that. I finished fifth. The good news is that I beat my primary contenders for third overall in the series. And when the single speeder came to the line I said sorry and told him I thought he was a B racer warming up, we both laughed about our ridiculousness, shook hands, and went on with our day.
Day 2, Sunday, Folsom Rodeo Grounds.
First off, I would like to note that Cap'n Junior was able to take the top spot in the kids race, making dad very proud. I also was able to tell the single speeder who yelled at me from day one that I gave my son strict instructions to take his kids out. Again, we laughed at our ridiculousness.
The nocar report:
I apprehensively approached the desk with my registration form. The woman began copying my information into the system. She paused at my email, “do you really not own a car?” “My wife does,” I replied. “If I had the authority, I would comp your race fees.” Here I am, the freeloader that didn’t give Cappy any gas money, and she wants to comp my fees.
While Cappy raced, I explored the course with the blue ribbon winner of the Gen 2 event. When it was my turn to toe the line I got in the back of the pack, figuring I would just sit in for a lap to see how things worked. However, seconds after the starting gun, it was clear that some of the racers were just too damn slow, so I pushed ahead and got on the wheel of someone riding my pace. He rode aggressively, and when he passed other racers, I stuck behind him; deciding that my race goal was to beat him. He used the brakes too much on the technical sections, so I had to move ahead. I got into a rhythm, sit behind a wheel through the flat and windy straightaways, sprint past them on the short steep climb, and drop them on the technical descent. Back on the flats, I’d catch another wheel.
But, going into the last lap, feeling like I had been chewing on a stick of chalk, my race adversary snuck past. I congratulated his tenacity. He was still no match for my power climb, and he lost a bit again on the descent, but after the last set of barriers, he was hard charging on my heels. In miserable exhaustion, I put my head down and begged my legs to spin faster. Coming into the line the crowd cheered our sprints, and I stayed in front. Still catching our breath, we shook hands and expressed our mutual pleasure in competing against each other.
The Rodeo Grounds course was awesome, favoring good mountain bike skills and featuring bunny-hoppable barriers. Two of them were relatively low barriers and the other was a single oak log (there was also a set of three tall barriers, that were not bunny-hoppable by the average CXer. Like day one, on Day 2, I was caught by the 1st and 2nd place 45+ racers and was able to hang on to them for the last four laps. While I was very happy about being able to hang with them and proud of my efforts…. on day 2…it was a different story when they got mad at me. With about 4 laps to go I mixed it up with them a bit as we caught two 35+ riders. They made remarks like “you’re screwing up our race.” The second 35+ guy we picked off was also able to hang on so now we were four, and naturally I wanted to beat the other 35+. Approaching the last turns of the last lap things really got going and the other 35+ guy snuck in front of me, when I made my move the 45+ started yelling at me. I got pissed and laid the hammer down with adrenaline and anger and beat them all to the line. After crossing the line I flipped off the primary instigator (who's name I won't mention but he rides for Kinetic Cycles), While I am not sure he saw my finger, he responded by saying, “Dude you’re an asshole.” I didn’t take too kindly to that and made some flippant/snide remarks back. After a few minutes of cool down I approached him and he was fuming mad now and told me not to say another word to him unless I was “coming swinging.” So basically I had a 45+ year old dude call me out to fight. Nice. Of course I told him I’d be happy to fight him if he wanted to take it away from where all the people are and he didn’t take me up on it. I shouldn’t have flipped him off, that was rude, but I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong and I was fuming mad. How am I screwing up their race? Why is their 1st or 2nd more important than my 4th or 5th? I didn't know what was going on in front of me and for all I knew I could have been battling for a podium spot. Further, this is a race series …so points matter, and the 35+ rider who was with us is one of my main rivals for 3rd overall in the series. The other 45+ racer, who rides for Cal Giant Berry, was very cool about it all and we talked it over and shook hands. He held the same position about me ‘screwing up his race’ but he was willing to see my side of things and we agreed to disagree. He tried to tell me there is a ‘certain level of respect in cyclocross and asked me “when was your first race?” I laughed and told him, “2001.” I told them we need to petition to the race director to have 35’s and 45’s start together, and so I went straight over to a race director who is involved in the series and told him all about what happened. He said they should have ‘manned up and dropped me” if I was bothering them, and he said he would talk to them. He did, I saw him do so, but I am not sure what came of the discussion. I can’t imagine the two of them didn’t figure out some way to make me look like the bad guy. After all, I am an asshole.
Super Tuesday! No fighting tonight, only proper debates. Ride fast, take chances, don't mix it up with the 45+ racer's. Back off when you see them. TacoStrong. Cap'n.