“Disaster averted” summarizes this day at Schooley Mill in the boonies of Maryland (another beautiful, untouched place) just south of Baltimore

Wake up at 5:45. Had scheduled our programmable coffee pot the night before for the first time. Coffee ready for me when I wake up? Awesome. This thing’s going to be getting more programmed use, for sure.

Pack car up and leave the driveway by 6:15. Neighbors must think I’m crazy as I seem to do this at least once a weekend.

Hit the highway and break into yesterday’s waffles. Were much better yesterday when not soggy and cold, but they’ll do as there’s really no food more “cycling” than them.

Arrive at the park around 7. Unpack bike and head to registration. Pretty sure the weather forecast was calling for 70. What’s 43 doing?

En route to registration, my quick release rear skewer decides to give up. If that’s never happen to you, trust me, it’s fun. ReasonsToNotRaceHorizontalDropouts++ (very few bikes allow this to happen… my pieced together, overweight pile does). CRASH. Luckily, fall over into some grass. Pride is the only thing damaged.

Register. Drop a deuce. Meet a team member, Brian, in the bathroom. Nice guy. More on him later. Pin my number. Back to the car.

Weather is warming so I drop a layer and head out on a recon lap. Appears to be a really good course for me as it’s not too technical and will require a lot of “go.” I’m better at “go” than “maneuver.” Lots of wet grass, though, which should prove fun as I have no experience on it.

Get back to the car, lay my seat down, sip some coffee, and wait.

10 minutes prior to race, hop out of the car, get ready to go, look at bike. FLAT REAR TIRE. Panic. Instead of bringing my full set of tools and spares, as I normally do, I brought nothing today. Why? Unknown, but I think two races of not needing squat attributed to it. Never again. Luckily, that teammate, Brian, is parked right behind me and still around (most had already left for the start). He has a tube for me. Awesome. And then he’s off. I peel out my old tube, spend no time figuring out why it’s flat (you’re supposed to try to identify the cause in case there’s something in your tire that will render the replacement tube flat as well), and try to put some air in this new tube. “TRY” indeed. For some odd reason, my pump doesn’t want to work with it. With Brian gone, I’m nearly SOL… There’s another guy parked a few spots down and I’m able to bum his pump. Back to my car… Schrader valve… and it’s not on of those unscrew-and-flip-around deals. GAH! Give it back to him and pout. AND THEN BRIAN SHOWS BACK UP AT HIS CAR. I borrow his pump, finish the job, and hope they haven’t already started. I arrive at the start line even earlier than my last race (started last and 15 seconds back), get a spot, and that’s that. Brian is my savior. I owe the man breakfast the next time we do a shop ride together.

The race. I lined up in about 35th spot. Not terribly bad. At the g-word, I start a bit slowly, drop about 10 spots, but no big deal; I’m in the thick of things as opposed to the back of them so that’s good. Make our way through the course for the first lap and I’m around 20th place and feeling good. Had replaced the quick release for a nut and bolt setup and no flats. I pick off a handful more folks on the 2nd lap and find myself in a small group right around 15th. For the next two laps, the five of us jockey back and forth as slips and slides are the great equalizer; get in front of the pack, slide out, face passing them all again, they slip, pass them, and so on and so on. Had I not managed two bungles (luckily neither on the tight right-hander that’d put you in a pond if you screwed up) I would have been clear of the group, but they were bungling the same so it really was a wash. My first came in a twisty, wet, slow, grassy section where I slid and went down. Low speed and I was back up in a matter of seconds, but lost two spots. The second was when I was about to break free from the group… Hop over a massive equestrian barrier and fail my remount. By fail, I mean carbon and leather several inches into my a-noose. Ow. Drop those same two spots again… One of which I wouldn’t get back. On the final lap, I had a group of about five right on my tail. One got past me heading into a sharp turn and completely bit it. With about a half mile left and a section in which I was pretty strong at (a technical little uphill and a road sprint) I figured my place was sealed. Not so. Somehow, the guy who went down hard is on my tail within seconds and I let him by as he clearly had more than I did. I stayed on his tail and we caught a rider ahead as we made our way onto the 30-second road sprint to the finish. The guy who had crashed and passed took off so I had no hope there, but I was right on the tail of the other and was happy to draft him up the short climb/sprint. With a final effort to get around him and make a gap, I saw him raise from his bars and knew the spot was mine. My first finish with anyone near… Great times.

Following the race, cooldown, meet and greet some friends, congratulate other racers. The usual. Met an employee of my “home” shop (Revolution Cycles) who commented on me riding a Cross-Check and doing well. It was a compliment… I think. I think he was inferring that my bike was slow and it was a hit to his ego to lose to it/me. Having chopped the handlebar and installed the Ergon grips (love them – immensely), I’m not too sure it’s as slow a steed as I originally thought or other folks seem to think; I’m able to hang with the competition everywhere and not only in places that I could make up for with fitness. Regardless, I’ll likely look at retiring it next year as I hope to get even more competitive and it likely is slowing me down by at least a few seconds per lap.


I finished 12th. One better than last week, but looking at the points awarded (some cryptic system of calculating how good your performance is based on who you race), it was far and away my best finish yet. At AACX I scored 423, while this time I should be (I had to submit a correction so my exact number isn’t published yet) at 395 (lower is better).

As far as the race and organization goes, CX continues to surprise me… Folks are very organized, there’s tons of cheering, there are great vendors (mmm crepes at this one!), and it’s an all-around good time. One of these days I’ll try to spend a whole day at the event, but work and football have been getting in the way lately.

I don’t know what or when my next race will be, but the season surely isn’t over yet. It’s dangerous to set goals for this stuff because you don’t know who is going to show up any given day, but I’d really like to see a top 10 before the year’s out.

Yay cyclocross! Oh… and you want GPS?