so, the 2nd cx race on the calendar here in the local kc area was put on in topeka, ks. actually the race was held at the Heartland Park Raceway. I am not a huge race car fan and had actually never been there before. when i heard a race was gonna be heldd there, i thought i could be a cool new venue. just the idea of making use of the dirt track they have out there seemed like a pretty new and cool place to put on a cross race. especially after my experience out in portland, oregon this summer with a short trak mtb race at a similar venue.
anyway......to those who missed or decided not to race or chose to do sundays race instead.......i have done the criss cross race 3 years in a row, and i will be honest. the people who missed saturday nights' affair and jeff unruh's race at heartland park, well let's just say you missed a great oppurtunity to race at kc's coolest and most unique venue. 1st off, the last 2 races were after sunset, on a very well lit course. which meant safe and non scetchy racing on top of a super fun and super and supa' fast course. thi was my first time racing after sunset, cuz i missed the Hermann race in september. i had heard from several guys who raced there and they all compalined about the lighting and the somewhat unsafeness of he course there. this however, was not the case this last saturday night for the 1st round of the Series60cx and the HPT Grand Prix. Kudos to Jeff Unruh and all who helped him put on a great race.
i wish i had some good pics of the course and the racing from saturday nights action, but heather was working and i never thought to bring the camera. i was pressed for time what with the little kid's feeding and bedtime schedule , it was show up to race, say a few hellos and get the hell on the road back home after my race was over. really din't even get to see any of the final race and the big guys duke it out.
setting goals is a common thing in athletics, and i for one spent the majority of my competitve years in golf from 12 to 24 years old having them. from junior and highschool years thru college and my oh so brief professional golf career. goals are what can help you achieve that next level in athletics or in anything a person is looking to achieve in life. i think cu i soent so many years having them and setting new ones and being so focused with the self-obsessed one track mind, i have avoided doing that with the bike. at least in not setting specific goals.....i just mainly stay focused on the whole idea of constantly improving. improving strength, endurance.........just training with the idea that wiht time constraints, i need to make every ride count. especially now, now that my time is even more limited with the amazing little girl added to my life. so i am focused on riding and racing and squeezing the most out of my limited genetic make-up. so much so that it literally to me a good 3 days to appreciate that i had a really good race on saturday night and also a pretty darn good one a couple of weeks ago at the lenexa diamond blackfan cx race.
my first thought across the finish line saturday night was.....the race officials cant calculate lap time.....cuz we race almost a good 10-15 minutes longer than we were suppose to(the last 20 minutes of the 55 minutes of racing hurt really Friggin Bad!!) and the second thought was to tell myself to not be satisfied, cuz i had one guy beat me and the field was somewhat smaller than the previous week with some missing familiar challengers to the cat 3 races. I guess it took a while for me to figure out a couple of things. at least for some things to sink in anyway. First, the guy who beat me is a genetic freak who races as a cat 1 on the road and the brother of a local cycling star who happens to be in the 'world mountain bike hall of fame'. Obviously compared to a lot of guys, kris tilford has a long and impressive racing resume here in our area. so no shame there, right josh?? i am a little dense and short sited sometimes(oh, by the way, chris was racing in the single speed category and not the 3's race). second thing that came late to was to.......accept that a win is a win, even in a 3/4 race, even if it not a 1/2/3 race an even if some of the main competition isn't racing that particular day(hopefully those guys, that i consider my competition, are a little relieved if i dont happen to be racing on another particular day). oh well...wishful thinking.
to the race recap......the start, again is to me the begining and end to having a chance to winning a cx race. at the very least, you may not be able to win a cx race with a good start, but you can certainly lose the race with a bad start. i felt this played out again in saturday evening's race. A short hundred meters of pavement at the start line took you to a soft angled left hander that curved back down a small noll back onto the pavement which set you up for a 90 degree turn that about 10-15 ft out of the apex took you on to packed but loose dirt. the 90 degree turn and the loose dirt both played a big part in the start of the race. this was 10 maybe 15 seconds into the race and already i was hearing squeeling brakes and metal on metal. I had already gotten the 'hole' shot now, once onto the dirt race car track heading north at about 29mph, i also had at least a 10-12 bike length gap on a single file group of about 8 to 10 guys. this gap seemed to increase once i got thru the loose dirt off-camber 180 that takes the racers into the infield of the race track. the infield is where all the medium speed 180's and 90 degree technical turns were at. again, riding solo and getting to pick my own line, i seemed to increase my lead some more. i had never been off the front solo of a road or cx race before. and it had been about 4 years since a couple of sport class mtb wins where i was flying solo off the front. this was new territory for me. in the past, i have always been chasing someone just a little bit faster, and every now and then maybe setting an early hard pace w/ the front group in a cx race. but always i was accompanied with at least a couple of competitors right behind or in front of me. saturday night, with an early lead, i found myself talking to myself a lot more. nervous that i would blow a big lead or blowup spectacularly by racing just a bit too hard too early. so i really raced what little technical sections there were pretty conservatively, knowing that most of my competitors would still be slower than me thru those sections. i focused on really hammering it on the straight-aways and really nailing the stair and the barrier sections. 40 minutes into the race, this really started to take a toll on my legs though. i spent 3 or 4 laps being slowly reeled in by kris tilford and also had an SKC and a GP rider that kept a constant distance back from me. but they popped first and drifted furthur back, but kris eventually overtook me w/ 3 laps to go(i think 3). It was with 4 or 5 laps to go that i noticed another rider that got my attention. Joe Fox from CycleCity was closing in on me. Joe made me really nervous. Joe is really strong when in shape and racing a lot and significantly more powerful on the straightaways than me in years past. if its road bike and time trials. he wouldve' caught me. but it wasnt....we were on cx bikes. and i think all of my AtThreshhold work the last month and a half was paying dividends. Because i kind of held joe in check the last couple of laps and was able to coast the last few hundred meters of the bell lap and cruise to my first cat 3 cx win in more than 2 years. no arms raised or celebration(i dont want anyone making fun of me celebrating too much over a cat3/4 win). just a relief that the pain was over and i could get out of the 'hurt locker'. man my legs were fried. the fast course and the abundance of power sections in cross course have not been my cup of tea in years past. i generally do better in more technical courses. so this course really forced me to 'dig deep'. so too did the guys who were chasing me and the guy in front of me.
its amazing how much the competion has increased here in our area the last 2 or 3 seasons. more and more guys are really putting in significant cx training and gearing up for cx season and the national championships that are held here again this year. just one more reason to take a little pride in winning a race.
2 more races this coming weekend. saturdays is back in topeka and sunday at Wyco park. the same park that held last years U.S. cyclocross championships, but with a different set-up. this weekend will be rounds 2 and 3 of the Series60cx races.
see ya this weekend or see ya back here for a recap.
Steve Tilford Eulogy
11 months ago