My fourth and final cyclocross race of the year came December 8th with the Missouri State Championship just a few miles away from home. On the one hand this race seemed like it should be a big deal, given that it’s the state championship. One would think there would be riders coming into town from all over the state. On the other hand this race was still part of the local Bubba Cross series, it’s kind of far away for the Kansas City people to come over, it was bitterly cold, the ground was covered with snow and ice, so maybe the turnout would be small. I should have preregistered for the race, but that never even occurred to me.
When I showed up my brake levers were covered with a coat of ice from the short drive over. I chiseled that off, registered, and got ready. I sat down in the back of my car to put my shoes on to avoid standing on the cold, icy ground. Of course, I didn’t fit with my helmet on so I briefly took it off. I did my warm up and made my way to the start area. Less than 10 minutes before the race I remember thinking my helmet didn’t feel very tight. So when I attempted to adjust it I was startled to realize I wasn’t wearing my helmet… which meant I wouldn’t be allowed to race.
I made a mad dash all the way back to my car to get my helmet and I made it back to the starting line about 3 minutes before the start. All the previous Bubba Cross races have a first-come-first-serve start positioning, so it pays to get there early. Now I wouldn’t get a good starting position, which pretty much pre-eliminated me from a good finish.
But wait, this was a slightly bigger race and I noticed they were lining starters up manually. Phew. Are they lining up starters by previous race results (fingers crossed, as I was in the top ten for the series)? Nope, they’re lining up by race number, which was assigned by when you registered. I was the 38th person to register out of 38 starters.
That’s right, I started Dead Fucking Last.
So my race was over before it even started. I had no chance at a podium finish, and virtually zero chance at even a top ten finish.
The race started and I immediately went out wide through deep leaves on bumpy ground in order to pass 5-10 people before the first turn, then another 5-10 people before the second turn. At that point things settled down a bit and I spent the rest of the race moving up one-by-one. The tight turns on top of snow on top of leaves were interesting to say the least. I did fall (very slowly) at one point on a downhill, off-camber, tight turn. I was able to remount without losing any places. My fingers were numb, but aside from that I was dressed appropriately for the weather, so it wasn’t too bad.
I made it up to 12th place by the end, which was fairly anticlimactic. I just got in my car to warm up and drove home. The race was forgettable. At least I can say I passed more people than anyone else in the race. I also ended up 9th place out of 41 for the series, despite only competing in 4 of the 11 races. I guess that’s something.
Sure, 12th place is fine, but it was my 21st highest placing of the 22 races I did this year. It wasn’t exactly how I wanted to end 2013, which had otherwise been pretty remarkable for me.
And I could have easily avoided it.
But I didn’t.