Posted by Maietta Facotry Racer Christain Eager
I didn’t have my best race on Saturday. In fact, given the dry conditions, and ample power sections—two ingredients to good races for me—I had a pretty poor day. I will, because cyclo-cross is also cyclo-’scuses, blame it on a wretched starting position and abysmal fortune during the first lap, during which I experienced five incidents, all caused by people upstream, that brought me to complete stops. Sixty-fifth place made me determined for an improved performance on Sunday.
I arrived an hour 3 hours before the race, thanks to a ride from Steve and Jeremy. This meant I got 4 or 5 laps in before the race, making me much more confident in the marginally-ridable sections, and allowing me to pick the lines I’d aim for in the first lap. I couldn’t do anything about my starting position, and I was still convinced that the left side offered a better line for the first minute of the race, so there wasn’t much I could do besides line up at the far left of the 9th row and be as alert as possible.
The first lap was the blur of 100 riders trying to squeeze through hairpins, up steep hills of loosely-packed dirt, and over barriers. It wasn’t quite the transformation of Gloucester the week before, but Tom Stevens did a good job of making a few subtle changes that made the course faster and more fun. If you carried your speed just right, you could make it through the ups and downs of the “bowl” with just a couple of easy pedal strokes after the peak, making it a section where you could catch a breather before the uphill drag before the beer garden. By the way, Harpoon has a new UFO Pale Ale, which they had on tap at the tent, and I recommend you try it at your next opportunity. Full disclosure: I was treated to the pint by the team’s generous title sponsor, Mr. Tony Maietta.
To my good fortune, the first lap was entirely uneventful; I have no complaints or excuses. My legs felt really good, and, thanks to those legs and encouragement from teammates and friends, I moved up steadily each lap, catching a draft when possible. Generally, though, I felt the urgency of a race moving further up the road, so I didn’t linger. Riders who I knew finished well consistently were in sight for much of the race, and I didn’t reach a breaking point—I just ran out of time. I’m content with 35th, and I think that starting from around 40th rather than 80th at the next Verge race in New Gloucester could be the ticket to my goal of a top 20. I spent the last weekend in sunny, 75-degree Austin, without a bike, and am feeling antsy.