GPCM David Douglas (Race #1)
It was hot that day but I missed the heat because I chose to start my season the way it ended last year – in the CAT4 Men. Heck, I was under the impression I was going to get callups at every CAT4 race since I won last year but turns out that nobody really cares too much about the CAT4 Champ and with good reason…CAT4 should really be a stop along the way of a riders progression, assuming that rider has the intention to train and improve themselves which is exactly how I approach things.
In any case, it was a good place to start because it was in the morning instead of later when it was supposed to be 100F.
As usually, pre-race jitters. Stress. Elevated heart rate. Here we go.
So I lined up in about 3rd line, with a pre-reg callup and I noticed a jr in front of me and immediately planned to go around him. I figured he would have trouble clipping in or if not, then he would probably not be going for the whole-shot and if that was the case, I did NOT want to get stuck behind him. To my left was Casey…and all 500mm of flat bar ready to stick into your side. I knew he was going to be tough. We chatted a bit and then it was time to ride.
At the gun(whistle) my intuition fell true the the Jr racer missed his clip in and was a bit slower than I’d liked. Luckily, I had room to go around. I sprinted with the others, moving a bit more to the front but about halfway through the straight to the corner people seemed to let up a bit. I didn’t really plan on the whole-shot but decided I’d hammer on the inside to get a few more spots. I was second wheel going into the first corner which was on pavement and the guy in front of me, gopro strapped to his chest, ended up getting a bit squirley…obviously running a pretty lower pressure. I took advantage and with a few hard pedal strokes entered the grass section on the front.
I kept hammering on the front, through the turns, feeling that rush of being in the race. My heart began to pound and my legs started to burn. As I looped around to go into the single track forest I could see some of the damage I was already doing. In fact, some guys mixed the chicane up and had a small crash. Sweet…more of a holdup for me to make a gap.
I continued on the front, down into the forest and up the other side, going hard. As I switched back again, before heading back into the forest I could really see the damage. There were only a few guys strung out behind me…a selection was already being made.
From this point I kept the pace high. I began passing clydes left and right and eventually lap traffic CAT4’s. Each time I approached someone I felt an urgency to get by without letting them hold me up. Eventually I started notifying them that I was the CAT4 leader coming through. Most were kind enough to give me a good line.
The climb out of the forest was hard but I only got caught once behind traffic and had to run it. Otherwise, I powered up in a 32 gear. It was probably as fast as running…but running is not a strength of mine and also…I hate it.
After a few laps I noticed that there really was only one rider in contention with me and that was Mr 500mm. We exchanged a few tongue and cheek yells but I was able to keep him at bay. His SS (yeah you read that right) made it so he couldn’t pedal the 2nd hill. I don’t know if that slowed him down but that was enough reasoning to give myself for maxing out on that hill.
Eventually I caught all the Clydes and went by. At that point I knew I was having a great ride because there went Coker behind me, the dude always seems to win the Clydes. I finished the race with a little burst and felt really good about things. I hadn’t crashed, my barriers were quick and fluid and I was able to keep the pace pretty high and steady through the whole race. Once out on front you’re really given the opportunity to hit your own lines and there is less chance of being thrown off or slowed down. This worked well for me today. It felt, too easy. I got a lot of practice in on cornering.
I managed 299W NP for the race, not as high as I expected. Crits have been about 40 minutes too but ended up with much higher NP. I had a slight cough (indicating I worked really hard).
Afterwards I joked that Casey should go to the 3s with me. I didn’t make the decision to do so until later…Cyclocross is self selective for CAT5-3. If you’re crushing in 5’s or 4’s, there is not much benefit to staying. Eventually, you will get automatically upgraded anyways – usually after 4 or 5 good races.
However, I did get a nice gift card for winning and also a sweet leaders jersey. Yeah, I like free stuff!