Jinglecross came up fast, so fast. I had 12 months of looking forward to heading back down to this. It's been an interesting fall season and I felt like my transition from 'endurance' type fitness into CX had been going well and that I had some positive momentum. Then I DNF'd, rode slow, fell hard on pavement last Sunday and DNF'd once again and all the sudden I was at Jinglecross in the Cat 2 race hoping there was somebody there I could beat. It's funny how quickly confidence can come and go! In the back of my mind though I was holding onto the progress I had made around this time of the year last year. Holding out some hope that I could continue to replicate as all my base transitioned into the right kind of fitness.
Got off to a great start! Went down in a surprisingly slick corner and sealed my fate early... although I didn't know it at the time. My derailleur was slightly tweaked and would derail the front at the least opportune time for the next couple of laps. Stupidly I didn't swap bikes immediately after the fall, or after the first time, nor the second time that the chain came off. The chain would pop off on the steep sections, I would fix it and then it would work fine for half a lap such that I'd forget about swapping bikes or anything but riding prior to the pit. In the end I got the chain very solidly stuck between the stay and the small ring and it was game over. It was disappointing and I felt stupid for not finishing again! That said, I took some positives from the couple of laps I did make near the front.
Saturday I felt much more confident and rode cleanly throughout the race. No mechanicals, no falls, no real bobbles even. As soon as I finished I felt like I should have pushed things harder. I wound up 12th.
Sunday I had a good sense for where I "fit" in and knew I wanted to do better than that. At the same time though, the course felt too "herky-jerky" for me to have my best performance relative to the field. Much more like Theo Wirth where I had suffered hard to stay in the lead group in the 3 race than like the Jackson Meadow or Cross a the Y courses where I had been able to ride away. I hoped I could partially limit my suffering by riding the run-up (I would have ridden it Friday night when it was on the course too, but that's where my chain was coming off!). At the start Fred Mills took the holeshot and no one was really taking the reigns and giving chase. I had no intention of going to the front prior to seeing Fred up there, but I felt like I could ride with him and I might as well. He bobbled in front of me on the run-up (ride-up?) and I wound up leading the race over Mount Krumpit and a bit further on lap 1. There was a prime at the top too! Certainly not something that I would have ever expected to have a chance to win. The rest of the day I suffered as much as expected and slowly fell back all the way to 11th. I did ride the run-up each lap though and it was awesome all the cheers and support.
In the end I did a bit better at Jinglecross as a cat 2 this year than I had done last year as a 3. I wanted more but I think I have to be happy with it. I'm glad the season isn't over.
This is too many pictures, I'm sorry.
Friday night before too much trouble with the shifting
Bike repair in the hotel room... always fun
I know- lots of pictures of me