Written by Michael Green Monday, 05 November 2018 00:00
The first race of the Michigan CX circuit is the Alma GP of Cyclocross. Over the past two years, the Michigan races have moved to Saturday rather than the historic Sunday racing, making some races difficult to attend due to family commitments and kids sports, but the Alma GP is a well run event and not one I wanted to miss. I packed up the car and drove the two hour drive to Alma.
Carved out of an old airport, the track makes the most of the terrain and they even built a beach to add greater difficulty to the course. Generally flat, it’s a fast event and with a week of rain and wind, there was no place to rest. I’d entered back-to-back events - Open Masters and Singlespeed.
I got a decent call up for the first race and we were off. I missed my clip-in at the start and got a little delayed off of the line and had to bury myself to make up time with the lead group. It got strung up really quickly and there were minimal places to pass, but one by one I was into the first six or so but seeing stars. The pace was high and a front group had split us up; I was fourth and pulling the rest. And that is where I stayed, eventually ending up on my own until the last lap. I’d sat up a little thinking about the next race, lost a little focus and suddenly I was in fifth. I couldn’t respond and that’s where I ended. On the podium, but a little annoyed that I hadn’t been more aware. I had a twenty minute break to take a seat at the car, have a gel and a little to drink, and I was in the coral again.
“Rubbing is racing” they say and there was a little too much going on on the first lap for my liking. Rubbing shoulders and inadvertently chopping someone is one thing, but deliberate, threatening actions is another. I was the oldest in the field by probably close to 20 years and a little wisdom forced me to let others go rather than challenging for my space on the track. I eventually settled in and let the youngsters duke it out up front, besides I was still a little tired from 45 minutes of racing, 20 minutes ago.
With a decent start, and even with letting others go, as the 40 minutes of racing chugged along, I found myself in the top 10 and sitting on the wheel of another making a charge for the front of the race. With a lap to go we were in 6th and 7th and I took to the front. I don’t know why, perhaps I thought I was stronger than he was, or stronger than I am, but I couldn’t snap the elastic. He sat on my wheel and let me drag him around the track. We came to the finishing straight with a high pace - or as high of a pace a singlespeed gear ration will let you - and I gave it my very best to hold the lead.
I didn’t have enough. He came around me and I settled for 7th on the day. Mr David Palan was calling for me at the podium for my previous race, it was all I could do to make my way over to the presentation. Eventually I was on my feet and smiling again.
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