Last year I was lucky enough to write about every COTR event, and not only did it allow me to share my own perspective of how my race unfolded but the post reflection opened my eyes to some major lessons that I'd be able to apply in the next race. This season I will be aiming for a similar format, but with each post I will be including two weekends instead of one. Thanks to some great scheduling, we as racers have the opportunity to compete in both Cross on the Rock and VCXC this year as every competition is on its own weekend. Our trips south of the border last fall for double headers were a lot of fun and filled our quiet weekends with exciting new people and places, but I'm not sure my wallet appreciated the memories as much as I did.
With the season introduction out of the way, it's on to the first race report of 2015 which takes us to Aldor Acres in Langley, British Columbia. Like COTR, the Vancouver series has a number of annual venues and I'd definitely seen photographs from years passed which made the course seem similar to what we race here on the island. Once on location and having my pre-race lap out of the way, that sentiment was a little true and a little false which left me very intrigued to see which of my strengths would come to the fore.
We set off shortly after noon as the second race of the day with 18 starters and only a couple familiar faces in the field. Two from home, two from road provincial championships, and one from the top step of every cross race I've seen him at. Craig took the holeshot into the first corner without much of a fight and along the second straight most riders formed into a pace line, content to grab a wheel. Instead of sitting in I continued my acceleration and used my extra speed to move up the field along the more rutted surfaces. Once we dropped into the back section I had placed myself in the sixth spot and was prepared to sit in and see how the race unfolded.
Throughout the next few laps the front of the race spread out as racers put in digs to get some distance between other competitors. My legs felt good and with each acceleration I was able to pass the rider ahead of me and jump to the wheel of whomever was upping the pace. By the fourth lap I finally decided to make my own attack which would mean finding my own speed to ride at since Richey had left us all behind long ago. Once on my own I found a rhythm and slowly opened up my lead over the chasers while leaving a little bit of regret in my mind as to why I hadn't attempted to hold Craigs wheel right from the start. At this point I still wasn't entirely confident that I was in second place but after some course side confirmation from Parker (He unfortunately flatted on the first lap), I knew all that needed to be done was to keep steady.
After taking 2nd place on the mainland I admittedly headed for Cumberland with an unwavering confidence. My handling skills had come a long way from last year and I was excited to see how I'd do in familiar territory. The Waverly CX Crit was the first test of the weekend as a large group of Expert Men and Women peeled rubber off the line in an obviously false start. It left me pretty far back off the gun but I think my smile was bigger than the gap to the front.
UROC does so much for the cycling community and this event is such a fantastic way to kick off cyclocross on the island. Before you began to take the race too seriously you're suddenly riding through a pub, along the dance floor, and flying out the front door. Pure fun lap after lap for a quick twenty-five minutes and the costumes made for some interesting heckles. Once the dust settled I had managed to move up the field to 3rd place behind two well known competitors, Justin Mark and Parker Bloom. Arms were raised, food was eaten, and drinks were had shortly after the course was torn down as we all relaxed in preparation for Coal Cross the following morning.
Three words could easily describe how the true season opener went for me.
Holeshot. Puncture. Jogging.
Getting a good jump off the line put me right out front as we rounded the first corner to the base of the climb and as I put the power down out of the saddle I felt it. That disgusting feeling of nothing but rim underneath me. Disbelief struck like a ton of bricks as I cursed and pulled to the side. My shoulder then greeted the bike with fresh arms as they knew it would be a long day together. It wasn't until the third lap that I finally got to mount my own bike again and with teeth caked in dust I bit the bullet and hammered away.
Finishing a lap down was inevitable on this day but once the results were posted I was able to find some positivity amongst all the frustration. Within the final five laps on my Romax I was able to claw back 17 positions and was still gaining by the end. A great performance in my own mind and further proof that I've come a long way since last season as I caught up to and passed the riders I used to battle against. On to Burnaby.