Rochester Cyclocross

Another good weekend of cyclocross racing is in the books. Marc and I decided to not race on Saturday and just take it easy for the day. This really made a big difference to our Friday night – we were able to relax, go out for a nice dinner and not feel super rushed to get the car packed and the bikes and gear sorted. We had an easy Saturday morning and hit the road at around 1:00. An easy drive down and soon enough we were settled in the Rochester Plaza Hotel.

We bumped into Rachel, Brad, Winston, and Wiki pretty much right away. Really great to see them – we all (minus Wiki and Winston) lived together in Belgium a couple of winters ago. Amazing to see young Winston and great to catch-up with Rachel and Brad (Wiki is a dog).

As is our normal routine we brought some food from home – saving us from having to go to a restaurant the night before the race. We were able to rent a microwave and small fridge from the hotel so we were set for the night. We hit up a local grocery store for some veggies and ice cream (for Marc the Shark) and we were settled in for the night. Without a reliable Internet connection I chillaxed with the Food Network and then one of the Focker movies. All in all, a very relaxing evening. Sunday morning we hit the road with ample time to get setup in a prime parking spot near the start and get ready for Marc’s 11 a.m. race.

Marc had a great race finishing second position. He and the winner Dan Staffo were the class of the race, putting in lots of distance to the rest of the field. It was great to see Marc riding so well. I’m disappointed I missed his podium though (hopefully there are some photos floating around the WWW).

My race was on at 2:00 so I had plenty of time to relax and get ready to race. It was good to chill-out and catch up with everyone – and of course to get the low-down on the men’s World Championships Road Race – sounds like a great race. Soon enough I was on the trainer getting my legs and lungs primed for 40 minutes of fast and hot racing. It was super hot in Rochester on Sunday – I think it was 30 celsius by the time we raced! I’ve written a full race report here.

Lots of lessons learned on Sunday:
– pre-riding early in the day is great but it is imperative to get out again on the course to see how the course has changed since 9 a.m.
– always check the tire pressure on the course before lining up
– remember that there is a big hill at the start – so clicking through the cassette is not that smart
– keep focus at all times
– when taking a feed during a cyclocross race, the bottle can be taken out onto the course – doesn’t need to be used only in the pit
– downhill barriers take skill and nerve
– look for exits in the corners

In the end, I finished in 9th place. I was in 8th for a long-time – series of small mistakes and some fading caused me to lose this spot. All in all, I’m very happy with the physical effort I put out – I just wish I hadn’t made the small mistakes that really did add up to making a different in my race. I had a few “hairy” moments while descending and hit a number of mistakes – happy to have kept it upright!

Many thanks to Marc for his tireless work in the pits, for the pep talk after the race, for putting up with fatigue-induced crankiness after the race and for being such a voice of reason during the day. Thanks to Conor for cheering me on and for letting me know where I was with regards to position. Thanks to Brad and Rachel for the cheering and to all the others cheering me on out there.

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