It’s finally happened, the 2015 Cross racing seal has been broken across the US this weekend and we here in Northeast Ohio got to revel in a great course while taking on the energy zapping heat and humidity. It wasn’t quite Cross weather but I’d rather have hot Cross over no Cross, so with that we toe the line.

Here in the NEOCX series SSCX is scheduled to go off at the crack of dawn with a 9am start. Yeah a bit early for the traditional SSCX race however being a Dad with plenty of stuff to do each weekend this early start works out great by me though the early start seems to deter handups which stinks but the show must go on. After getting some needed course recon it was time for staging. Here in NEO the SSCX crowds aren’t huge but continue to grow with a good amount of new riders coming out this year for the kickoff race. The front row was occupied by the ususally suspects with twitching feet ready to kill it all the way down the opening stretch. The pace seemed really quick as we went down the opening straight but it soon sorted out as we hit the first series of crazy turns leading into the only big contender of a hill on the course. This hill though perfectly managable was a challenging one. Nothing long, nothing terribly steep but rather a joy kill to running a larger gear for the rest of the course. Topping this hill often looked like we were practicing track stands more than racing but that would only last for a moment as we then shot downhill to an off camber left hand turn into another long straight away. This for some provided a great spot to rest but for me it was a great spot to try and make up ground fighting  through the power robbing long grass. Then came a nice little ditch which was absolutely hop-able however as the race went on I chose to run instead of getting a flat as I noticed I was getting lazy and slamming my back wheel. After another couple of quick turns it was a very modest uphill grade that felt like it was pulling you backwards however with a little effort another great place to make up a placing or two. After that it was a good many turns through a baseball diamond which tested rider ability to drive the bike. Though I wasn’t uber quick I searched for my inner Charlie Babbit and worked hard at being a good Sunday driver.

This went on for what felt likes hours in the +80* heat as laps went on. There were a couple of good battles where there were 3 or 4 of us that were evenly matched thorugh the middle of the race. I watched as two guys ahead of me battled the sandy turns and despite my desire to try and squeeze in on one turn where I had good momentum to have taken them both I conserved my energy and waited for them to make the errors. This happened in the form of a clipped course marker which led to that rider shortly popping leaving me alone to chase down the other guy. After a fierce clawing up the big hill i managed to sneak my entire bike over the lip before he did allowing me to accelerate for the corner before he got there. I didn’t really attack but kept pressure on the pedals from there and hoped for a gap instead of towing him along however after a couple of turns I think the heat got to him as he soon disappeared from sight when searching for him in the turns. This left me in no mans land with a Cycle Smart guy not really chasing but keeping a smooth gaining tempo. I forgot about this rider for a bit and suffered through my own demons cursing the lap counter when he caught me. I hung on for a while thinking we might be able to work together to chase down 3rd place as he looked to be suffereing only to be reminded as we reached the hill that I too was holding on by a thread. And then with limited fan fare the foot gap the Cycle Smart guy had on me became feet of which I tried a couple times to bridge but it wasn’t meant to be.

Overall I felt great and very happy with the results as I tend not to do well when the temps or better yet the humidity gets up there.  Great job by the gang at Blue Sky for putting together a great course and for Marshall or Velogoat for a great event! Looking forward to Saturday where we post up once again!

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