The art of the cyclocross racing start is something I have NOT mastered.
In the past 4 Verge races I've had a second row call up. So, what, 10 riders in front of me on the line? And a whole slew of racers behind me ready to gun me down. (I know that's nothing compared to the 150 riders the boys had to contend with in the cat 3 race but it was more than I've ever raced with). I've been finishing good enough to get a call-up... so you would think I'd be strong enough to keep up with my peers on the start. Hell no... I'm getting slaughtered...
On day 1 in Maine about halfway through the first lap I see Alix next to me "Hi Raina!". WTF! (Sorry Alix - no slam intended) She was on a mtn bike! And there were 30 riders between us on the starting line and somehow we were next to each other. Either I was doing something really wrong or she was doing something really right.
On day 2 in Maine I was determined to have a better start. No go. On lap 1 my place was in the mid-20's... more than 10 places behind where I lined up on the start line.
On day 1 at Northampton I was DETERMINED to have a good start. I powered through the first few hundred yards and felt I was holding my position starting the run-up. Yay!! Halfway up the hill someone hooked my rear wheel in their handlebars. Got all turned around and by the time we were untangled and moving again we were WAY back in the pack. Damn-it.
On day 2 at Northampton I tried again for a good start. I can do it. I can do it. My pep talk to be aggressive and hold my position. I picked a bad line (yet again) and came to a dead stop behind a few girls who got crowded into the inside post on first hard turn. At the end of the first lap I had slid so far back in the pack Eric wouldn't even tell me what place I was in (he gave up counting). He just kept saying "what are you doing?" "hellloooooooo.... are you racing?". I think about halfway through the race when I was still tagging along in the same pack of riders Eric gave up any hope of me moving forward.
Soooo... I've got lots of homework to do before next cross season.... figure out the art of the start.
A few quick notes on the men's sunday race (Oliver was with his grandparents so I could really pay attention to what was happening).
Kudos to George for improving his race strategy over the past year... instead of starting out gangbusters and slowly sliding back the rest of the race, he's had really good starts (strong, but not getting to far into the red) and then holding steady the rest of the race or moving up. He had a great finish passing a few riders on the last lap and then a good sprint finish to hold his position.
Kudos to Eric and John for making the most starting in the back of a field so large that if you are not in the first few rows you don't have any chance of a decent finish.
Eric decided to have fun with it anyway and give it his best shot. On the first lap there were maybe 10 riders behind him (out of about 150) and he spent the whole race just trying to move up in the pack... picking good lines conserve energy and making some aggressive passes on the straights. He passed about 70 people during the race to finish in the top half. Maybe I need to take some lessons from him on how to ride aggressively on my first lap.
John also decided to have fun with it to, but in a different way. John took a beer hand-out with a few laps to go. And had a good finish... picking off a handful of people in the last few laps and then another rider in a sprint finish. Hmmm... maybe there is some strategy to taking the beer handouts?