"It's one to one. I'm keeping track."
That's what Rick said to me after UTCX #1, which, incidentally, was my best ever finish in a 35A race. I'm wondering now whether I'll equal that result all season (my best result last year and highest finish ever was 6th in the 35B race at UTCX #1). I'm now 1-2 against Rick, after he and nearly everyone else in the field put the wood to me in UTCX #3. The photo below (thanks, JDub) was taken on either lap one or two. I was never that close to Rick again the entire race.
Ever the optimist (can you race a bike and be otherwise, considering how rare it is to win a race?), I think I'm figuring some things out. Last Saturday's course at Ft. Buenaventura is a favorite for some. Not for me. The long power stretches where you're on the gas for 60+ seconds at a time are popular, but for whatever reason, I am good at efforts of 10 seconds or less or 6 hours or more. Anything in between, I struggle. I did fine in the turns and in the technical sections, but as soon as we hit the straights, I was attacking off the back.
I think part of my problem is with my starts. Cyclocross leaves you no opportunity to recover. So if you go anaerobic in the first 30 seconds, you may never get out of that hole. Winning the hole shot at UTCX #2 and trying for it at UTCX #3 were my undoing in both races. But it's a catch 22. If I'm not in the lead group on lap 1, I'm not going to catch up later. My best results have come when I've started strong and limited my losses from there.
But I guess that's what I love about cyclocross--there's so much more to it than just pedaling your bike. And of course there's the race within the race--even if none of us ever see the podium, throwing down with my friends for seven days worth of bragging rights is what really matters.