The weather was the same for me as everybody else, cold and rainy. I was able to hand off my jacket to my dad and Pat who also ferried my vehicle to the finish – which was a big bonus I wasn’t planning on. A start like the Iceman is in my blood. Criterium was my start into racing so I know how to move up and get a decent position into the first corner or into the woods, as is the case here. I kept moving up for probably the first 3 miles and could still see the top 3 from my wave at the 10 mile mark, but as the ground was continuing to soak up water it slowed us down and I found myself pushing a big (48-18) gear rather than turning it over as I thought I’d be able to. So they finally got away from me.
My bike of choice was a Cannondale Trail SS 29’er Single speed, and pretty basic with the exception of the wheels, which were built using Velocity Dually’s with a 3″ Knard on the front and a 2.25″ Racing Ralph on the back, both set up tubeless. Where a great many people were losing traction or sinking in, my “Mid Fat” wheels rolled fast, provided great traction, and floated like a fat bike. Additionally, because of the single speed setup and the hefty chain Bob Hammond (our head mechanic at Alger Bikes) put on my bike, I had no drive train problems at all.
I mentioned the gear I was running earlier, it calculates to about 19 mph at 90 rpm, and I like to spin. I was expecting to move pretty fast for most of the race, and run 4 to 6 hills. In fact I said openly I was going to go fast as long as I could, and maybe explode and lose lots of time near the end. That’s basically what happened. The last few hills were excruciating. I was cramping in the quad and hamstring both. I expect I lost 5 plus minutes in that last 5 miles because I couldn’t stand up and power through the hills anymore.
In the end 2:23 was a decent time, 12th in my age group, injury free and able to enjoy a few beers with 5,000 of my closest friends in the rain. Awesome. When do we sign up for next year?
One last thing. My training this year came in a very different form than it has in the recent past. I joined 8th Day Gym in Grand Rapids just over a year ago. I’ve been attempting to work out there every day for the past year. I say attempting because I’ve been trying to adapt my body to this way of training, and it’s working, but I still can’t handle it 5 days in a row. It’s different than cycling, of course. And no I don’t think you can do CrossFit alone and race bikes fast, you still have to ride. I’ve been riding 1 to 2 days a week though, and I’m pretty darn happy with the results. I woke up Sunday morning after this race without any pain. At 45, I’m pretty happy about that.