Elgin Scuffle Cyclocross Race Recap: Elgin, TX


Author/Race reporter: Patrick Smock

This past weekend I was able to debut for the Dutchman cycling team at the
Cyclocross Scuffle in Elgin, TX.  Kudos to the Bat City cycling team for
helping to keep this race a perennial favorite on the TexasCX series for
many years.  The new kit was shiny and white, but only for a little while.
It drew many comments ranging from "Hey, cool kit man" to "White? For
cyclocross?" The doubters in long sleeves and all black were not questioning
that decision as the day went on.  Thanks to a robust racing scene in and
around the Austin area, the Texas cyclocross race calendar has crept up into
mid-September making the opening weekend of racing HOT!  But, as usual,
participation was excellent. I'm sure in no small part due to the buzz that
World Cup racing in Vegas has brought to our sport.  This is my 3rd year
racing cross (though last year I only made it to 2 races after having
surgery and bringing home our new triplets (both in September) so I pretty
much phoned it in for those races).  Although I wouldn't dare to consider
myself competitive, I decided to upgrade to Cat 4 and quit sand-baggin in
the back with the Cat 5's.  Mostly, I wanted the opportunity to enter more
than one race per day.  Not sure if that was the best idea, but...
By the start of the 3/4 race, the temp was creeping up into the 90's.  I
started near the back of the pack and stayed there for the entirety of the
hour-ish race.  First race of the season + mediocre shape + little training
+ hot weather + the longest cross race I've done = me sucking it.  The course
was pretty sweet, though.  Tight corners followed by short up hills, a
challenging left-hand turn into the barriers followed immediately by a steep
dry creek crossing, an off-camber 180 turn-around on a short hill, and at
the end of the lap a life-unit sucking gravel pit followed by a long sand
pit.  Although I was able to pick off a few riders at the back, it became
clear early on that the guys I was in front of probably weren't going to
finish and on several occasions I felt like joining them.  Eventually, I was
so far behind the leaders that spectators started thinking that I WAS the
leader.  Although I might look capable of being fast, they quickly realized
their folly, especially as I was getting lapped at the end of the race.
ATTENTION POTENTIAL SPONSORS: the guy at the back seems to be second in
total exposure time only to the guy at the front!  Lap after lap I pedaled
through that damn sand pit to the jeers of the hecklers perched there, only
to be waved through the finish and on to another.  "It hasn't been 50
minutes yet?" I kept thinking. Eventually the hecklers got bored, or could
tell that I was about to puke and didn't want it to go in their direction.
I thought about yelling at them in my best Maximus Decimus Aurelius"Are
you not entertained!?"  After crossing the finish time one last time, I
finally saw the official wave me off the course, unsure if I had actually
finished or if I had been pulled off the course early for getting lapped.  I
really didn't care.  Turns out I had finished, and not even in last place!
I was happy to have stuck it out, and as the imminent puke was settling back
down I reminded myself that this is cross, damn it and this is how you're
supposed to feel!
After much internal debating I decided to stick around for the 4/5 race at
the end of the day.  The temp had continued to climb, and, still ripped from
the previous race, I decided to go for it and just take it easy.  I started
near the back of the pack again, happy to avoid the melee that the first few
turns of a 4/5 race brings.  Although the legs were pretty full of junk, I
could tell that I was slowly clawing my way back into the middle of the
pack.  In the end, I was glad that I stuck it out, accomplishing most of my
major goals: 1) Not injuring myself 2) finishing 3) not in last place.  As
for having fun.... well, that's relative in cyclocross.  It all depends on
your definition of fun.
As I was standing around at the end checking the results a gal (who was
probably also much faster than I am) says, "Hey, you look like Jeremy
Powers!"  If you could only see me race, I thought... Which left me with the
comfort of feeling as though looking fast may be the next best thing to
actually being fast.  I'll keep telling myself that at least.