I remember the feeling of rolling up to the starting grid after my name was called: apprehension, anticipation, and excitement. Hopefully the first of many call-ups this season, I made my way to the second row, right behind Ryan Campos, a good friend and a familiar wheel. As soon as everyone was lined up and ready to go, the race promoter from Bat City Cycling warned us proudly:
“Good luck boys, there’s about 60 turns on this course!”
It was true. During pre-ride, I rode behind the local notorious heartthrob jerk we all know and love that is El Gato (Johnny Sundt). He expertly narrated the twists and turns that made up the dusty Sunday course. Johnny, an ex-pro known for his terrific handling and sharp tongue (and elbows…), spent the majority of a lap showing me how to set up for turns that were still 100 yards down the course. We rode the harder technical sections over and over again, working on leaning my body and deciding on an appropriate tire pressure. By the end of our practice session, I was confident that I could turn my bike better on this course than the majority of the other racers in the 4/5 race.
My start was horrendous. After finally clipping into my pedal after the third attempt, I found myself sitting about 20th wheel going into the first turn. Dust was kicked up everywhere; I could hear the coughing throughout the pack as we made our way towards the first drainage ditch in the course. I knew there would be a pile up here. As other racers tried to remount before they got to the steep ditch, I stayed off my bike. As an ex-runner, I am learning to embrace my strengths. Since I don’t have the technical ability of guys like @nutter or @jkneve to ride some of the harder obstacles, I find it much faster to run. Although it may not be as showy or cool as riding through challenging sections, running has saved me from more than one debacle. As I ran through the ditch and hopped back onto my bike, I was sitting in 10th place.
The rest of the race was spent focusing on turning the bike smoothly and keeping my damn feet pedaling. Once I was alone and out of the pack fodder, I was able to concentrate on riding tape to tape and staying off my brakes as much as possible. Fighting the effects of heat and exhaustion, I rode steady and smart, exerting only what was necessary to ride at a stable pace without blowing up. I ended up finishing 7th out of the 65 that started and in front of many faces that were butts last year.
Team Yacht Club had an incredible day at the Elgin Cyclocross Scuffle this year. Many of us saw our shoes on the podium and we all had a great time. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that we’re looking forward to a competitive cyclocross season filled with ruts, bourbon, good times, and pizza rolls.
Jonathan Neve: 1st – SS, 10th - Open
Andre Chelliah: 7th – 4/5
Tyler Nutter: 4th – 3/4, 12th - Open
Marcus Granberry: 14th – 3/4
Jeff Dykes: 18th – 3/4
Gary Rothera: 20th – 3/4
Jolene Holland: 2nd – Open
Kyle Johnson: 4th – Open
Lori Bergeron: 1st – 3/4
Marc Coppedge: 13th – Open