It was a busy weekend for me. I had to work on Friday so I didn't make it back to St. Louis. It also helped that there was a dryland dogsled race yesterday. The Missouri State CX championships was today as well as the Illinois State race here in Chicago. I decided to just stay put and do my/our first dog race and then do the Illinois state race today. I was a little disappointed I couldn't improve on my 2nd place finish in the Masters race from last year.
Todays race was at Montrose Harbor, right on the lakefront. I wasn't really feeling it, my motivation to race has been a little low. I don't know if it's the commuting, the weather, or maybe because dogsled season is around the corner. To make matters worse, I knew I wouldn't get a good start position so the thought of starting in the last row was a real downer. I think staging was done in order of Chicago Cross Cup points, then Crossresults.com points. I figured at least I could get into the mddile of the pack. The next thing to figure out was which race to do, the 40+ masters or the CAT 3. The promoter emailed me stating there were only 55 preregistered in 40+, 85 in CAT 3. 40+ it was.
40+ was the first race, 8:45. I got up around 3:45 and started to work on my bike. I hadn't done anything with it since the Mt. Pleasant Winery bloodbath. I cleaned it up, tweaked the brakes, and cleaned the mud out of the right shifter. I got all packed up, made it Starbucks, and then headed out. For somebody who doesn't usually register until the last minute I actually made it there before registration even opened. I love when the preregistered line has 20 dudes in it and the day of line has nobody in it. I signed up and rode two laps. I got 1.43 miles per lap. The race had a nice mix of features. a couple sand pits, some twists and turns, and then a nice little climb straight into a headwind.
There were roughly 65-70 racers. We staged and I didn't even make it to the middle of the pack. I was propabley two to three rows from last. I was able to make up some ground on the long straightaway, but once we got to the first turn everything bottlenecked. I had to take some risks and I ended up going down on one turn, but I was quickly back up. I could see two groups forming in front of me. I thought maybe 20-30 guys in front. I had such a bad position to start from that catching the lead group was a pipe dream. I ended up picking off a few guys and then at the end I was in a battle with about three guys. I caught and passed one. I traded the lead with the next guy, but then he faded. The last guy had a sizeable gap, but I ended up keeping pace and then he must've faded. I caught him just prior to the last lap and I just stayed on his wheel until the twists and turns. I passed him and gassed it out of the corner. I slowly grew my lead on him. Even though I wasn't in contention just catching and passing some strong riders was a victory in my book. The IL CAT 3 champ from last year could only muster 2 places in front of me.
Chicago is a whole different animal then Bubba. There's twice as many guys in each field, and that includes three masters fields, which Bubba doesn't even have. That's no knock on Bubba, but Chicago has so many more racers to draw from. I've gotten a few people saying I need to CAT up, but they are the same people who haven't raced up here. While I've been pretty consistent in Bubba(especially after a few updgrades), having all top 10's and several podiums, I'd be hardpressed to say I'd be that consistent up here. It would be nice to see how I would've faired in the CCC series. I may still CAT up and next year concentrate on Masters and CAT123.
Now for the first race of the year, my first, I mean, our first bikejoring race. I met the Green Valley Dog Drivers group once last year, before I left for Kansas City, and then once last weekend. They let me take out an 8 dog rig for the first time. The most I'd done was four on a rig and on my bike. Anyways, I made the 2 1/2 hour drive up to Fond du lac, WI. It was raining when I got there and continued to rain off and on all morning. I decided to enter the four and two dog class. They were pretty laid back and ran rigs, scooters, and bikes all in one class. I was hoping to run my dogs with one of the strong lead dogs from the group, but as it worked out I ended up using my dogs in lead with two unknown dogs in wheel position. Kasha looked just like Teemu, only she was all white, and Kormack was a tall lanky husky. Nothing went right. My phone went to roaming so I had no maps on my phone gps and I had to call Jess for directions, then I wanted a Starbucks, but once again, couldn't dial one up on my phone. Then I went to prep my bike wanted to strap my gps and video camera to the handlebars. It wa just too cold and wet to tape the camera up. We finally got them staged to go. sFrom the start Skates and Teemu were enthusiastic and were perfect lead dogs. They were really going. I had no idea what to expect from Kormack and Kasha, but they both did great. Kasha pulled her little heart out. My first bikejor race didn't go without a hitch though. Kormack decided to take a poop break, then I took a good spill. The dogs were really going and there was a big long puddle right at a turn. I hit that puddle and there must've been ice at the bottom because my front tire washed right out and I ended up plowing right in that huge puddle. I was up and back on pretty quick though. My next hiccup was when I got to another transition. I ran into a fork and had no idea where I was going. I decided to get off the bike and run the 30-40 yards so I could see the next marker. I got my bearing down and then we finished it up strong. I brought the dogs to the car and gave them some canned chicken. We had about 20 minutes before they had to go again. This time the enthusiasm wasn't quite there for Skates and Teemu. Right from the start they just trotted out of the chute and found the first tree to pee on. Then then Teemu had to go poop. It wasn't until after about the first mile that they started to go. They were pretty tired. Since this was an all class race I was told to either not pedal or take off the chain. I just didn't pedal, but I did use it scooter style and pushed my bike with one leg. In the four dog group the GreenValley club had four of the top five spots. I ended up in 5th, about four minutes down on 1st place. In the two dog I ended up in 4th. All in all we had a great time and I learned a little bit more about this sport.