DCCX is my new favorite race. Sorry, Gloucester. As picturesque as your beach venue is I’ll take DC’s amazing crowds, race infrastructure, and the sweet sweet UCI team parking lot. Just to be clear, I’m not joking. I feel like I can’t gush enough about how great this race weekend was in every respect. A big part of this though is the team parking situation at this venue. Allow me to explain.
At most UCI races parking is a huge premium and often times the races charge premium prices for it, which is fine. Everyone wants a good parking spot. I get it. But what ends up happening is the big teams kinda just dominate the team area with the huge tent set ups, the trailers full of stuff, and often times their shitty “we’re better then you attitude”. To the point where I’ve actually arrived at a venue, parked, was doing my own thing for a few hours, and then had a teams support person basically tell me to move my car because they needed that spot for their convenience. Not to turn this whole column in to a parking rant but I cant imagine any situation in real life where people walk around demanding a parking spot from others because they feel somehow entitled to it. To make a long story short there is a lot of sizing up that goes on in the team areas and you can definitely tell who thinks theirs is biggest.
The other down side of the usual parking polemic is that everyone sort of has to go where they can and we rarely end up sharing a space with all our friends at the race. DCCX was different and it was awesome.
To start there was no exhausting negotiation with a power mad parking attendant to get into the the UCI lot. The lot it self was supper close to the pits which made it easy for all the mechanics. But most importantly it was open and had more then ample space for everyone. So all our friends could park in one of the corners of the lot. I think we had four teams snuggle up together under some trees. We had riders from Stan’s NoTubes, Fearless Femme, The Jam Fund, Squid Bikes, and Richard Sachs CX all hanging out between pre-ride laps, during our warm ups, and after our races. It felt just like hanging out with a whole bunch of your friends on a beautiful sunny day in a park and we happened to also be doing a UCI race. It was a very pleasant change from the stress and seemingly never ending amount of things to do during a normal race day.
Dan Timmerman and I did some pre-riding together but mostly we just hung out in his team tent. Drew, their team mechanic is really chill and helpful to pretty much anyone. We cracked jokes as we hid from the blustery wind. Dan caught me up on how construction was going on the new house addition he's been working on all cross season. The deadline of winter is really pushing him hard to get it done soon and while heavy construction might not be the ideal midweek training routine it doesn't seem to be hurting him much. He still expresses his love of racing to me. It’s just all the other things that he’s not jazzed about. The travel and even the training feel more like chores. We don’t exactly see eye to eye on this but I certainly know where he’s coming from.
On a good day training is still a joy but that’s not everyday. October training has been hard this year because of the number of races. DC marked my 4th weekend in a row of UCI racing. Monday’s I’ve been waking up with the feeling of a full body hangover. A sure sign that it’s almost time for a mid season break.
First we still had some racing to do in DC.
I’ve given up on looking at pre reg lists for my races because it just always gave me anxiety. Watching the list fill with the names of fast dudes just feels demoralizing. So, I stopped doing it. I’m always surprised when I go to sign in and pick up my number. At DC I was very pleasantly surprised with being the first call up on the 2nd row. It felt like 2011 all over again. By which I mean a time when cyclocross wasn’t as saturated with talent. I made the most of my start and settled in 4th as we left the pavement. I know I likely wont be able to stay there but it’s a match I gladly burn all the time because as the race falls apart it’s much better to be chased then be doing the chasing. After about three laps I was dropped from the lead group and settled in with the chase group racing for 6th. In the end I didn’t quite have the sprinting legs to win the group but I was still happy with 7th which is my best UCI finish since 2014.
Despite this only being my second year at the race it feels like tradition that Bill (aka Mr CX Hairs of Svenness fame) and I stay up way to late to record a podcast. This time we were joined by the action packed Dan Langlois. In case you’re curious how to pronounce his last name this was a topic of discussion. The episode is called "the Double Dan Show" and can be found and listened to right over here » cxhairs.com
Sunday morning Dan L and I sought out the greasiest greasy spoon within a 3 mile radius of Bill’s basement. Then proceeded to eat a very large amount of eggs and home fries. Once satisfied we headed to the race.
The parking lot social scene was even better Sunday. The wind had died down and it was much warmer so everyone was just hanging out from the back of their hatchbacks, sprinter vans, or the like. It was nice enough that a few folks took little naps in the sun between preride laps. I’m not sure how DC managed it but we were at a UCI race in the middle of a city and at the same time hanging out in an idilic, lightly wooded, patch of sun lit grass. It could almost be described as relaxing if it wasn’t for the race nerves kicking in.
Every time I have a good race, the next race I feel super nervous. It feels a bit like my good result established a new level for me and I’m afraid of slipping back down. I’m not sure how to describe it other then it feels like things can only go down hill for some reason. It’s similar to how I feel at the start of every season.
Someone Missed their call up so Sunday I got to start on the front row. I think the last time I got this pleasure at a UCI race was 2010. So yeah, that was pretty cool. I left the pavement in 3rd wheel. Unfortunately the person sitting in second wheel decided to crash abruptly in the next corner. For some reason this felt very appropriate, as if my feelings of things going down hill were not validated. Even though I had to come to a dead stop, I still managed to get into a very large chase group that was racing for 3rd. That didn’t last very long and the group split. With three riders riding away as I again found my self in a group racing for 6th. Not wanting to wait for a sprint I decided to try something else. With one to go I went all in to try and make a bit of separation from my companions. Unfortunately, I ran out of gas with about a half lap to race. I cruised in for 10th.
I rolled across the line with a huge grin on my face. The finish line was a beautiful sight to behold. It seemed like the whole straight was lined with spectators two or three people deep. A bunch of hands stuck out for high fives. I happily obliged as I rolled over to my competitors just passed the finish line. In that moment, the result didn’t matter, I just looked around and thought to myself, “Cross fucking rules!”