Jack Frost 2016 Race Report
…or…thoughts and musings
I wasn’t even sure I would make it. The wife was out of town and the babysitter wasn’t going to show until noon. I thought by registering a bit late (midday the day before!) I would get a later start time…nope….12:26 start time….OK, this will be interesting. As I am contemplating how fast I could “safely” drive from NoPo to Vancouver Lake, the Grandparents came through and were able to come over early. Now it was time to get excited. Season opener race, and I was ready. After not doing any road anything at all last year (except riding around in general, just no racing), I’m eager to get the season underway and make a decent showing. There is nothing like the anticipation of a race or event to reinvigorate and drive away the weariness of hours watching Netflix on the trainer. Time to see what has been gained, or lost, since my last ‘cross race.
I still revel in the fact of how much the team has grown. It was just three years ago that I showed up to Jack Frost, not knowing anyone, or what to expect. The team, and myself, has changed so much since then….for the better. It was great to have a tent, people to know, and a home base of sort. Getting out of the car, I don’t know why I was expecting anything different, but I was taken back a bit by how cold it was. Time to get a warm up in. So I headed down the road going slow at high cadence. Rode back at more typical speed/cadence, then practiced a few sprints to open things up and I was ready to go.
I feel like I got off to a funny start…tried to get up to speed out of the saddle and for some reason was super wobbly. But I settled down and was off. After the first corner, I was still trying to judge what speed I could hold for the duration and was quite pleasantly surprised that I got up to and settled on just north of 20 mph and felt comfy with it. I started feeling better as I went along and that really kept me motivated. I probably could have pushed a bit harder. Stayed in the drops until about two-thirds of the way to the turn around then had to take a break….it is a ‘cross bike after all. Pavement was wetter the second half to the turnaround and trying to find a good line on the pavement was sometimes tricky….and occasionally made me second guess if it was worth it. But with only a few drops of rain, as compared to earlier in the day, I honestly couldn’t complain much.
The course was a bit shorter this year, 11.6 miles (per some strava segment). Not sure why, but hey, I don’t run the race. It didn’t bother me too much, just made for a bit more guesswork in comparing to previous years. Feeling great headed into the turn around, I was ready to punch it hard back home. In talking to a few of my teammates, it was definitely then that one realized they had a tail wind on the way out.
Man, it was brutal. The turnaround always messes me up, but now into the wind was rough. It wasn’t much, but you could feel it trying to accelerate back to the finish. Just to get back to 16 mph took me longer than I wanted. Key of the game today was surface area…and I wasn’t winning. My unwillingness to stay in the drops for too long wasn’t helping either. I struggled to keep it up to and above 17 mph for most of the way back. Once I hit Frenchman’s Bar though, I got some motivation and pushed hard to the finish. It was a rough go on the way back, but I was satisfied with the day.
With the distance being different from last year, I can’t quite get a perfect comparison from my previous efforts. But based on the distance difference and my average speed, I’m pretty confident of doing better than my last showing, so I’m going to call it a win for the day. It was a great start to the season. I’m excited and ready to move on to the next…..