Labor Day has passed, the days are getting shorter, the mornings are getting cooler… that means it must be time for cyclocross! Yes, yes it is. As usual, I started off with the “official” season opener for the #NECX of Quad Cross. Some people may race cross earlier, but that’s pre-season racing if you ask me. Although with Labor Day being as late as it was, there were definitely plenty of options for people to start racing. But many people waited for this past Sunday to kick things off.
Although I don’t race for Quad anymore, I still volunteer and help out with the race every year. So I woke up early, got in the car and headed over to Maynard to help with registration. Things were surprisingly smooth as people started registering — it’s almost like after a number of years of doing this, it’s starting to be something that we know how to do. That said, racers — have your license handy! If you don’t have a paper copy, install the USAC app on your smartphone and then you can show that. Having to look up your license info slows things down for everyone.
Once registration was well underway, I hopped on my bike and went for a quick pre-ride of the course. Although it had rained overnight, it wasn’t particularly muddy — just not the usual dustbowl. The course was fast and fun. But I knew a lot of pedaling was going to be required for it. I got in a second lap and then went back to help with registration some more after the Women’s 3/4 fields kicked off.
As that wrapped up, I got in a third lap (wow, it’s like I almost warmed up for real!) and it started to mist. We headed to the line and it was a little bit less than organized getting people set up. And thus, I chose poorly in terms of starting position. Then we were off and I basically got boxed in more than I would have liked But I kept moving forward and generally was riding okay. Some of my cornering was bananas but that’s to be expected in the early season and not being used to having brakes that can actually stop me. Anyway, I raced, it hurt and I finished. Ended up 26/63 which puts me right back where I was before I upgraded a few years ago. Given that I was being demotivated fighting for not-last in the 3s, I downgraded back to a 4 this year which definitely seems the right thing to have done — I felt like I was really racing again.
But maybe the best part of the day was hanging out afterwards. We had a huge presence for the Keep It Tight team at the race and the tent set up and were just generally chatting and encouraging everyone else in other fields. I also got to see and catch up with a ton of folks who I pretty much only see at cross races… too many to name them all. A big fat reunion for the (perhaps dysfunctional) family that is the #necx.
And next weekend, I’ll be at it again. Another chance to test myself. A chance to do better. And onwards.