GPCM Het Meer (Race #2)
Het Meer CX Race #2 of GPCM
So for Het Meer I decided to up my game and race in the master 3’s. It was the right decision but a hard one after the week before’s performance. I like winning but the reality is that it is better to win when the competition is tough than when it is not.
Het Meer is dutch for “the lake” and that is exactly where the course was, on a lake. The lake is Vancouver lake. Its not a place you’d like to swim in but it does present the race a long strip of sand to deal with. Last year it had rained a bit and so the sand was firm in areas. This year however, it had been hot, forever, without rain and so the sand was super soft, and super deep.
There is a concrete lip going into the sand and in years past the sand level was not built up to the lip. This made it a “drop off” into the sand – virtually unrideable by all but the best. This year the organizers made a huge attempt to flatten out the transition.
I spent some time in the morning building the course and thought ok…I can do this sand. Its not big deal. It looks like a really nice ramp down and then I can just ride along the wet sand by the water. Well, after seeing a few people pre-ride I quickly changed my mind. The sand was so soft that the wheels were cutting through it, hitting the concrete and making people flip. If you made it into the sand fine then most people were getting bogged down at the end where you turn onto the harder straight. I decided I would run this.
The rest of the course was setup to be wide and fast. Plenty of spots to pass. Nothing too technical.
Being that this was Masters CAT3 meant that a good starting position is extremely important. Masters 3 is typically the largest field in the race. I think that this is for a few reasons:
- 35+ demographic is huge for OBRA
- You can self select Category3
- 11:20 is a good start time
As anticipated, there were over 40 racers in our CAT, compared to 17 in CAT4. To make matters worse the 35+ 3’s race with the 50+, another large field. They had 52 racers in that field…and they rolled at the same race time, in front of us. Nevertheless, the starting area got crowded really fast!
I didn’t have a callup, because I had just moved myself here but through good planning and a little wiggling I got to the chute about mid pack. Bang and here we go.
I immediately charged forward as best I could and took a few spots. I knew the start would be critical because by the time I would work through 10 people in the pack, the leader would be long gone. I kept pushing it through the fast back section and then the sand. I ran it…and passed more people! Running was faster. I caught my buddy Nic on the sand and thought I’d pass him on the inside, bad idea. Loose as a goose and I almost conceded a spot getting back on track.
When we got back to the speed section I would pass him but he held my wheel well until going down into a loose corner, blocking some of the group in the process. It would have been more fun to battle with him, next time though.
After a bit, I found myself in 2nd place but 3-8 or so were strung out behind me. This kept the pressure really high on me. I started to be able to pick my own lines and really fly. Each time around I would run the sand and pass people who had troubles. As the race progressed though, the lines at the water in the same became really blurred. It was really hard to pass people and instead of becoming compact through the race they were going the opposite way and getting harder. After the barrier on the sand I began running more because I just could not get going. Running, lots of running. I hate running. I am poor at running. I need to practice running more!
Bell lap, keep working. 1st is nowhere in site. Actually, at one time I thought I was in 1st. Announcer said to catch the guy in red, which I did do. Wrong red. Leader is in the leaders jersey…solid orangish red color. I hit the sand and really start to struggle as I run out of it. I get passed and check his number, uh oh its competition!
At this moment my mind was in the wrong spot. I told him good job as he went by but it did not trigger a sense of urgency in my mind. I was maxed out after the run, not wanting to speed up. I kept him close but not close enough. As we went up around the pinch point tree and off camber, he had gotten in front of a lap traffic guy, who was now in front of me and who took the section much slower than I wanted. This gapped me. I struggled on the straight to pull #2 back in but he was hammering as well!
Throughout the speed section I worked hard but could not close the gap, 10ft turned into 20, 30, 50ft. He was pulling away. I was not digging deep. I lost my motivation. I ended up third on the day which was a really great finish considering it was my first go in the 3’s and I didn’t have a callup. However, the main take away is that I need to harden up my mind still.
Cyclocross is hard. Physically you have to deal with the pain of powering the bike up hills, sprints out of corners, sand, and eventually mud. This puts a huge strain on your mind to quit but you have to learn to keep going again and again. Aside from the physical burden, you will have the conditions, weather and race which will also put a strain on you. This is where a hard mind will prevail.
In my best races, I have made a commitment before starting that I will go all out. I will prepare myself for the eventual pain I will endure. I will know that it will be hard because I will be at my maximum. If I commit this to myself than I’ve accepted that it will come and in some cases will mentally encourage it to come because I know that if my mind keeps it away then I will have let myself down. I will not have fully committed. You must commit yourself.
3rd in my first Master 3’s race. Not bad. Got some coffee, almost paid for the race right there! Next up, Zaaldercross!