The Dick Lane Velodrome of East Point, Georgia is... a velodrome-- a steeply banked concrete track that people with no fear of crashing race around at speeds of at least 17mph (minimum speed required to stay on the banked sections).
however, on Halloween 2009, it turned into a cyclocross course. well, the grounds around the track became the course- plus the bottom, flat part of the track itself. being completely outside, much like a skate park, the property had juuuust enough land to make a tremendously curvy, technical cross course. add in a week-end full of rain and crazy folks in costumes and you have yourself an exciting cross race.
i was happy that my race didn't start until 1:40 in the afternoon. unfortunately, that gave the rain plenty of time to saturate the course. a few warm-up laps confirmed my suspicions- the majority of the course, located in the "infield" of the track area, quickly turned into a soupy mess, despite the small creek running through the middle of the property where everything drained into. even in warm-up, we were tracking mud around the paved areas like crazy, making them even more slippery.
i found out just how slick the track can be, sliding out in a turn right onto the slick-as-glass concrete. so much for keeping my kit clean and rip-free... luckily i just scraped my knee a bit and scuffed my shorts leg- no real bike damage. that did make me a bit gun-shy about that particular corner, though.
as the men's "c" group lined up for our start, i noticed the absence of the two or three guys that repeatedly beat me. "this might just be a good day after all", i thought. i'll just push hard and stay confident in my bike handling and maybe , with a little luck, end up on the podium.
i started out conservatively, seeing as how in the first 100 meters we went into a hard right turn on pavement- not something you want to over-cook and end up on the deck right away. i followed the leaders through the very technical, very sinewy uphill sections until we made it back down to the track area- the only spots on the course where straightaways existed.
i made up considerable ground in these sections, confirming my high fitness level. i traded places with two other guys , once out of the straightaways, for two or three laps, however- confirming my abominable lack of off-road bike handling...
this went on for what felt like eternity. the laps were short, so we kept doing lap after lap after lap. normally, cyclocross laps take between 6 and 8 minutes to complete, giving my "c" field about 4 or 5 laps to do for our 30-minute race. these laps were taking around 4 minutes to complete, so we had a ton to do.
that also meant we were lapping people left and right, which is no big deal to the racers; the spirit of the sport in more participation the competition, it seems. the problem arises in the score-keepers' ability to keep the lapped riders and leaders' positions straight and not mix them up (see dahlonega race) . i think the officials learned from their mistakes; i moseyed over to them after i finished to confirm my results and they had it right- whew.
i was a little surprised to hear them say it, though. i had lost track of the guys that got away because i was so busy trying to get rid of the two guys i kept trading places with. 3rd place? jeez, i need to pay more attention to who is in front of me!
i finally got my podium time, albeit in the rain, with a goodie bag to boot. they did take pictures of it for proof; sadly nobody bothered posted said photo... it did happen though, i swear!
|some vids from the race:|
men's a race
men's b race
|p.s., i'm sure you noticed that none of the photos have me in them- i was a lone wolf this race with no awesome tifosi to chronicle my brilliance-- cheers to the anonymous folks who captured the pics|