Star Crossed always marks the start of the season for me. I love this race with its big crowds, beer garden and twisty course but unfortunately it usually ends up being the race where I work out the early season kinks. Even though it was the first race of the new "NACT" series (not the catchiest name boys....) I didn't have too many expectations. Norm finished putting together one of my two new Queen Ann's at about 11pm the night before so I almost expected something to go wrong. But it was a suprisingly smooth weekend of early season racing.
It poured the entire drive down to Seattle. Hmmm. Star crossed in the mud, I had never even thought about it. But when we rolled in there were puddles everywhere and the course was getting nicely chewed up by the early races. Interesting. Kona had sent down Demo Dave and Smiley to help us out. After calling cyclocross the "red headed bastard child of cycling" and admitting they had never been to a cyclocross race before, Norm whispered to me "don't worry I will be in the pits for you." Now, Dave is a great mechanic and a bright enough cookie so I wasn't too worried about him figuring it out until he helped me pit for Norm. Norm was having brake issues and needed my bike as a spare. I showed Dave what to do and he executed the bike catch smoothly...but....then he started casually walking away with the bike. "Uh Dave?" We need to get that bike fixed here and now because Norm is going to back for it in about 4 minutes. " He quickly returned and "we" tried to get it fixed. But when you mix someone who has never seen Spooky brakes before (Dave) with someone who is not very mechanically inclined (me) you sure as hell don't get the bike working in 4mins. Damn boutiquey bike parts. Poor Norm had to do a few drive by's only to keep moving on through on my "midget bike" as he called it. The mini screws were a bit stripped and the cable frayed so by the time Dave got it rideable Norm was almost done his race and finished it up on the midget Queen Ann. Maybe it would be best if Norm stayed in the pits with Dave during my race...
Unfortunately I missed my opportunity to pre-ride the course so I ended up on the start line blind. I had a good start but scaled back a bit to let someone else lead the way. Kristi Berg (Redline) had some great lines so I followed her but then she started to fall back so I moved up to wee Amy Dombrowski (Velo Bella) who is a roadie and I am guessing from her lines, not a mudder. Sue Butler (Monavie Cannondale) was riding smoothly up front and pulling away so I bridged up and let her show me the way. With no pre-ride I screwed up my gearing on a small climb and almost lost her, and probably got cussed out from those behind me. But I tagged back on and we worked together to get a good gap. I tried to drop her mid race but she was strong and had the fire so could not be scraped off my wheel. I changed my strategy and tried to rest up for the last lap but waited too long to make a move and came in for second. No mechanicals, no kinks, just have to get the brain back into a tactical mode for cross season.
We were passing by the tent when the boys were getting ready for their race. Dave all chipper-like asked if there was anything special he needed to know for the pits. All we heard was a "yeah, just don't f*ck up." Norm gutted himself laughing. Poor Dave. Better hope for a clean race. There is no fury like the wrath of Ryan Trebon. But this time it was directed at the lapped rider that took him out, not Dave.
The next day the Rad Racing GP was more of the same, except this time I was better prepared. Sue and I got away and worked together to grow the gap on Amy Dombroski whose roadie legs were much quicker on the fast open terrain. I tried to drop Sue once but she was too strong so I waited patiently for the last lap. I punched it just before the 80m Dale Knapp run up and dropped her but punched it again at the top of the run up just to be sure. I kept the gap to the end to steal the NACT leaders jersey from her. Not bad for early season racing.
We missed the mandatory team Kona blackberry picking to race back to Canada and caught the 8:15 ferry home. Nice capper to a good weekend.