Sunday would mark the first cross race of the year, and a return to Rochester NY, for the Cobb's Hill Cross Race. Last year, we took a chance and attended the first running of this race. It was organized by the guys at Full Moon Vista (of Rochester Twilight series fame), it turned out to be a fun well organized event, with a lot of really nice people there, not to mention, the win made it even sweeter.
So no pressure, first race of the year, and a title to defend... yikes! I started the morning with usual uncertainty regarding form (as I usually do at the start of a season) and one week after returning from holiday in Italy was still heavy in thought. The weather however would be fantastic, low 20's (Celsius for all you non-metrics) no wind, and lots of sun! Gorgeous!
Kelly would take the start of the women's race in the morning to a great 5th place finish, Darren was traveling with us and would join me in the main event!
I would start with a bad spot on the grid, third row, boo to a non call-up! I was caught behind a couple of weaker riders, and kind of got stuck for a bit of the first lap, there was a small section of single track, with no major bottle neck which was good, and on the big climb, I was able to make up a few more spots. By the end of the first lap I caught up to the lead riders, there would then be five of us. I immediately put pressure on, thinking I did well to make it up here, might as well go with it. We were immediately down to three and by the top of the big hill on lap two, it was a local rider Erik (Grimm - Full Moon Vista) and myself. I would then spend the rest of the race on the front. I was really unsure of Erik, he was definitely super strong, but very unwilling to take the front. I would find out after the race, this was his third or fourth 'cross race, and he's a machine! Big into adventure racing, and xc skiing (look for him at the Keski!). So my guess is he was riding smart, just hanging on, and trying not to get dropped, which for all my efforts I couldn't do!
We proceeded to put in 15-20 seconds a lap into third place and would lap all but 13 of 47 starters! On the final two laps I decided to really test the waters, on the hill I was pushing a bigger gear, working the downhill a bit harder, and really pushing in the tight spots. Erik to his credit did really well to hang in! He would make a move before the barricades (3-400m from the finish, we went over pretty much side by side, I noticed he slipped up, but so did I (don't watch others, watch yourself!!) and we'd go into the final corner together, but I had the outside line, which would give him just enough advantage in the final 50m sprint.
All in all, a very good race, a bit of a bummer not to repeat, but second is still a very nice way to start the season!!
Next weekend will be another weekend of firsts, first double of the year, First 'cross race (ever) in the province of Quebec, and Quebec Provincial Championships to top it off at that!!