|There's still some joy in Mudville ...|
In today’s cyclocross race at Washington Park in Milwaukee, I placed 13th out of 21 in the Masters 45+ Cat 4 field. That’s a statistical fact. But just as a baseball box score can obscure the circumstances when a hitter succeeds in spite of himself, so too can race results give a false impression of one’s performance. Today I was much better than the final result indicates.
I got off to a very good start and within a couple of minutes was starting to pull away with a lead group of about 10 riders, including the top guys in the series. A crash put Timm Jacobson on the ground … and behind me for the first time all year. I felt I was working my way toward a Top 5 finish and perhaps even a podium spot. I bunny-hopped the second barrier section: a “coffin.” This was the Halloween ’cross race after all, and a lot of the riders and spectators were in costume. Bunny-hopping was the shorter, faster way through that part of the course; some riders chose the detour and my decision to hop the barrier allowed me to move up a couple of spots. But advantage soon turned to disadvantage: by the halfway point in Lap 1 it was clear I had pinch-flatted, almost certainly a result of landing the bunny-hop on half-filled tires. Now down to zero PSI in my rear tire, I couldn’t corner and I began to lose positions. But I held the bike upright and made it back to the SRAM pit area just short of the finish line.
The SRAM mechanic set me up with a loaner wheel, but by the time I got rolling again I was almost certainly dead last in my category. I began Lap 2 knowing it would be just a 3-lap race. The leaders were gone and so was any prospect of a high finish, but I was determined to reclaim as many positions as possible. Finishing 21st would have meant 0 series points and that prospect just wasn’t acceptable; I want to finish the series in the Top 10. Every time I passed someone I said to myself, “That’s another point.” It was motivating. I earned 6 series points for my 13th-place finish, and that’s a whole lot better than nothing.
So, I did what I could under less-than-ideal circumstances. It would be easy to be disappointed by the missed opportunity, but I fought to the end. Hard work paid off today despite misfortune, and that gives me confidence for tomorrow’s race at Sheboygan.