Saturday - Grafton Pumpkin Cross
55+ 1/2/3 By Joe King!
The drive from Madison to Grafton is nearly two hours which is why attendance at this venue is lower than at most. Derek Slates raced in the men's cat 4 race which was in the morning and I raced in the afternoon. I didn't see Derek, perhaps next time.
The Pumpkin Cross venue has improved greatly over the years, going from a course that was straight up and down with bumpy flats to one that snakes up and down with smooth fast flats. It was super fun and as I had hoped I was able to get a front row starting position. I really wanted to know if I'm being left behind because I've lost the punch from previous years or am I tending to ride with instead of through the riders at the back. Getting the more familiar front row starting position could answer that question. Of course I muffed the start and ended up at the back anyway. During the race I slid out in a corner which had become loose dry, dusty dirt from the days racing. I also unexpectedly lost my chain but managed the usual NQL (not quite last) finishing place. This course was really fun and included a short hill with log-like features I could almost ride (for me at least they needed to be further apart). It was most certainly faster to dismount here because the entry was fast and you could do so at a full run. The trick was getting clipped in afterward because the course dropped quickly into a hairpin immediately followed by a short, sharp hill. It seemed like I passed a rider struggling to get clipped in or coming off the bike on that hill every lap. Not that I was that smooth, mostly I was just slow enough after the remount to be sure I was clipped in. We must be hitting 35 mph on the downhill which included a couple of corners near the top and a long sweeper at the bottom. That was really fun! As an added bonus, the long sand pit was not included this year. I'm not a fan of sand and the WCA series tends to have very few sand features and that suits me just fine. My conclusion after the race is that I've lost my punch. I raced hard as hard as I could and finished next to last. Even when I first started racing this category many years ago my placings were better than this. I'm not disappointed because I'm still having fun. I just need to adjust my goals and emphasis.- Joe