Starting at the back of this many people does not a fun day make

Disclaimer: I’m about to be a whiney bitch. If you don’t have a tolerance for that sort of thing, quit reading. I wouldn’t blame you, but I need to vent and this is my best outlet.

Today began the first race of the Cross Crusade season. Crusade is the preeminent cyclocross series in the US. It’s a very big deal and I’ve been working my ass off to be ready for it after a solid road season, some mediocre time between, and a ramp up to get back into shape recently.

I race in the C class. I also raced C in mountain bike short track and won the last race I did, which led to me moving to B. Presumably, the folks in these classes are nearly identical so I’m capable of placing high this cyclocross season and was hoping to bump my category here as well.

As the fields for this are massive, there’s a thing called a “call-up,” which if you’ve been racing well in a preselected few races (I did a single one and got 10th) and did well last year (I was placing 15th or better once I pled for a call-up [more on that later]), you get to start near the front. As expected, I didn’t make the call-up list but contacted the race organizer since it’s entirely at their discretion to award these. Note: If you don’t start at the front and you’re not sandbagging your classing, you’re not going to finish at the front. I pled my case to the organizer (strong road season, was on the podium for 2 of the 3 short track races I did [similar racing to cross]), but no dice. Not a big deal; I was looking for special treatment and didn’t get it. C’est la vie. What that meant is I’d need to get some points in this first pair of races… Sounds a lot like last year…

I couldn’t get points last year because I started mid-pack for the first two races and couldn’t pick off the 30+ people required to get there. This led to me having to chase the entire season. Before driving three hours to Bend for a doubleheader weekend in the middle of the series, I pled to the organizer to grant me a call-up, he did, and top 15 placings were the flavor of the end of my season (was 3rd in the last race before a mechanical).

As luck would have it, today my random number was called to be first after the call-ups. Great! Points to be had! The starter gave us the “go” and before I even move my season unfolds before my eyes. Some guy (who had a call-up) on a single-speed botched the start (I don’t know how you do that with a single gear), caused a pile-up that tangled me and a friend with him, and there went that great starting position. Hard to say where I finally ended up starting, but it had to be way down there. I had a good race and picked people (including folks with call-ups) off the entire way to finish in 24th (points go to 15?). Comparing lap times on Strava, I should have finished between 10th and 12th had the race not began the way it did. No points for my best opportunity all season to get them. Tomorrow they reverse the order of the random numbers so I’ll start absolutely dead last. Chance for points? Zero (today I probably passed about 40 people, but tomorrow would have to be 90). Following the second race, call-ups are based on the series points, which I’ll have none of so every subsequent race will come to the crapshoot of where I start. Because of one guy goofing his start (who will continue to get to start at the front), this season is looking like a pile of crap. I’m not sure I’ll even bother racing tomorrow because as much as I enjoy racing, waking up early and spending $25 to practice my passing is not particularly enjoyable.

UPDATE, UPDATE, UPDATE!!! They’ve announced the call-up lists for Sunday and (if they did this last year I don’t recall it/wouldn’t have been called up anyway because I was one of the unfortunate souls [more on that]) they’re doing it based on placing today and going 35 deep. My prayers/whining have been answered. Those unfortunate souls, though, the people who might be fast but started at the back today and didn’t get into the top 35, they might be in for a cruddy season.