Race: 2014 Asheville Cyclocross Mountain Sports Festival
Asheville is a pretty damn fine town. This past weekend was the Mountain Sports Festival, which celebrates all that is good and true in Asheville. Over the weekend there is live music, craft brews, and racing (be it on foot or by bike). Asheville Cyclocross puts on a night ‘cross race every year with the festival. It’s a great event since it kind of serves as a break from road racing and it gets everyone excited for the fall ‘cross season. I participated in the B race. There were three categories: C (beginners), B (decent), A (really fast). I knew going into the race I’d have a good shot at being competitive with all my road racing this spring.
The race: We all lined up and I believe there were around thirty guys. So off we went and I was able to position myself in the top three while going for the holeshot. We flew through a couple of grassy turns and I was able to keep my position. Then, we hit a straightaway with a tight turn into the woods and I swooped past the second place rider to get a better spot into the turn. The only problem was that he sprinted in an attempt to defend his position, so all three of us flew into that turn quite fast and barely avoided a pile up. A couple of turns later I sprinted into first to get through a 180 degree turn before everyone else and started forming a gap on my chasers. Unfortunately, a super strong racer caught up to me, passed me, and proceeded to pull away. What followed was a couple of laps of yo-yoing where his speed would increase and then I would get closer. It got to the point where I thought I couldn’t catch him, but some rowdy fans cheered me on and I closed the gap down to 30-ish feet. Quick side note, this course involved riding through a sand volleyball court, which is very difficult for racers and quite fun for spectators. I was able to gain ground on him every time we went through the sand. We approached a barrier where you had to dismount, carry your bike, and hop over the obstacle. Fortunately for me, he bobbled over the barrier and I was able to catch him. For the next few laps we jostled back and forth between him leading or trailing me. Finally, the last lap started and, in anticipation of the final sprint to win, the pace picked up. As we approached the last few turns we had one final push through the sand and I managed to get a few feet ahead of him. We rounded the final turn, sprinted for the line, and this time I had a bit more left to eek out a win.