MFG Cyclocross Series Kickoff - Race # 1

The local MFG Cyclocross series kicked off last Sunday, venue being Big Finn Hill Park in Kenmore. The park is also practically in our backyard, so serves as the local stomping and mountain bike grounds. Racer Boy Ian completed this series the previous two years, so third MFG go around for him. I dabbled with two MFG gigs in 2009, now time to dabble once again...

After completing Project Hakkalugi late on Saturday, took a spin around the neighborhood to test out the rebuild, then hit our practice barriers for 15 minutes - in the dark. With that, declared myself race ready for Sunday. Bike complete, race venue riding distance from the house - what the hell - let's suffer for fun.

My Cat 4 Masters Men 45+ race scheduled for 9:30 AM. Ian's Junior Boys 13 - 14 scheduled for 12:10 PM. He gets to sleep in while I pretend to race. Our 7 year old neighbor, Caleb, also scheduled to hit the kid's race later that afternoon. His first race ever. Cool.

I buzz over to the course on Sunday with time to spare. Sign on the dotted line, pin on my official race number, and pre-ride the course. Ian's race team, JL Velo, in full attendance complete with team area and tent. Sweet, I even have a place to drop off my messenger bag full of supplies. Pre ride reveals a fun course: Bumpy grass, some pavement, a sprinkling of singletrack. Fairly flat and only one barrier section to embarrass myself on.

I line up to do battle, big group includes Cat 4 Masters Men 55+, Cat 4 Masters Men 45+, Cat 4 Masters Men 35+, and Cat 4 Women. We're launched at 30 seconds intervals. Get ready to rumble!

Boom! Now it's my turn as we sprint up the pavement section and hit the first turn. Reminds me a bit of my motocross days, minus the noise and smell of pre-mix. We round the first turn and in no time the groups are spread out and overlapping each other. I pass a few people, many more pass me. I'm slow, really slow. I do pass one dude in the barrier section. Hey, lookee me, racing 'cross!

With Lots-O-Racers buzzing around, have no idea what place I'm in, but there's always someone nearby to race with. Huge fun. Huge painful fun. The good thing about 'cross - the race is short. Only 30 minutes.

The bad thing about 'cross - the race is short. Short means fast. Fast means hurt. Rock hard bumpy grass with no suspension and skinny 700c tires adds to the enjoyment of it all. Yes please, may I have some more?

I have no idea how many laps I completed, but was glad when it ended. Don't get me wrong, it was a blast. Mega fun. Like being hit in the head with a mega fun hammer - that feels good when it stops. Am I gonna do this again? Oh yeah, bet on it.

Call the neighbors, wake the kids. Here's actual proof of me in action. See? I don't make this stuff up. The rebuilt old school Ibis worked well and attracted some attention, even from the race announcers. Hearing something about a "Steel Ibis Hakkalugi. Sweet!" booming over the speakers as I cruised by, put a big grin on my face.

After the race, I rode home to cool off, change into civilian clothes, and fetch Ian. Man, can every race be within riding distance of the house? Dream on, old dude. Ian in tow, we ride back over to the course, me giving him details on the conditions. Sappy dad me can't helping thinking how cool all this is. My race complete, riding alongside my 12 year old racer son, race number pinned onto his team kit, telling him about the course. Freakin' awesome. Yeah, I'm a total bike geek.

We now interrupt my psychotic rambling and continue the story via pictures and shorter bits of rambling...

Temps in the high 80s; Unknown Adult, Ian and Jarrett, hide in the shade under the official team tent.

This is Reeve; enjoying the sun, dust, and pain involved with socializing in the Cat 3 Masters Men 45+ class. Reeve is the dad of two of Ian's teammates; Henry and Evan. Two very fast boys. Reeve is also the dude who mentioned having Ian join the team, while chatting a bike related conference last year. He also put on the 'cross practice we attended last week. Yup, another bike crazed guy - gotta love that.

Hammer time. This dude bought a Triumph Speed Triple off me years ago. Now I see him at 'cross races. He's pretty fast, the real deal. Fossil power replaced by pedal power.

Adult member of JL Velo flying the team flag. No idea who. Team sports about 100 adult racers and 30 juniors. Then mix in parents and other folks, and I still get names and faces mixed up.

Okay, I just cheated and looked at the online results. It's Don Wright, who placed 2nd in the Cat 3 Master Men 45+ class. Killer job.

Team tent provided a ring side seat to the action. Look out tough guys, racer girl is gaining fast...

My daughter Amy's orthopedic doctor in full race mode. Cool, eh? Would you rather have a doctor who races bikes, or one that sneaks a smoke behind the medical building? No contest. Day after the race, he removed Amy's bright pink cast.

JL Velo juniors swarm before the start. You can almost hear the buzzing.

Kung Fu dismount action performed by teammate Luke.

Luke looking a little more graceful here, going for it in the Junior Boys 15 - 16 class.

Ian attacks - well, runs anyway - through the barrier section. Even though 12 years old, competing in the Junior Boys 13 - 14 class, due to the rules set up. Goes by age in 2012. Seems a little wacky to me, but hey, what do I know?

Ian and Luke doing a little synchronized barrier dancing.

Kids dig air - on any type of bike - nice!

Man, helium filled tires really are the hot set up...

Teammate Matt, going hard - or checking what gear he's in...

Ian heads for the barriers once again. Come on! You can catch him...

Go Ian Go !!

After a great race the previous weekend, Ian did okay in this race, coming in 6th out of 10 racers. The boys in this age class can be pretty quick, including teammates Jarrett, Mitchell and Henry; who placed 1st, 2nd, and 3rd respectively. Very fast kids and Ian can only learn and improve by being around 'em. Fantastic day for the junior team.

How did I do? Well, let's just say a pro contract ain't exactly in my future. Out of 51 racers in my class, I cruised in at 46th spot. Told you I was slow, modesty not in action. I'm just a 50 year old goof who's happy to be semi-fit enough to enter a 'cross race. Pushing myself and being part of vibe is all I need. Mission accomplished. I'll be back.

Oh yeah, our little neighbor Caleb scored a 2nd place in the kids race. His dad Dave, now considering a run in the beginner class at the next event. Being around a 'cross race tends to do that.

This was a fun event and well run by the MFG folks. Cyclocross is getting big, lots of people racing today in all classes. I plan to claw my way up to 45th place at the next race. This is getting serious, it will be mine...

If you've never tried 'cross or even racing in general, and have the slightest inkling to try it. Go for it. You'll be glad you did. That's a promise with my personal guarantee. Do it.

See you out there.