Cross is delightfully brutal. The ChiCrossCup is a series that brings suffering to life in always changing ways. This year, the season’s first race changed venues from Jackson Park, in downtown, to Caldwell Woods on Chicago’s Northwest side. I initially liked the change in locations because it cut about a half hour off my drive. After racing the course, I like it because it was awesomesauce.
This course had a little bit of everything: power sections; a little bit of technical; fast, sweeping sections; off camber; climbs; and a big, steep run-up. The only section that seemed like it offered a chance for recovery were the few tight turns after the run-up. That section was fairly short and then you were directly into a little power section into a downhill and then a short, steep climb. Just enough to catch your breath a little before cranking it right back up again. One of the things that I really liked about the course was it was super fast. Turns were tight enough that you couldn’t stay full gas, but if you chose good lines you were able to carry a lot of speed through turns and maintain speed. The layout also presented plentiful areas for passing safely.
It may be a euphoria just from CX season returning, but Caldwell Woods has immediately jumped toward the top of the list of courses I like. Great job by the xXx crew and our USAC officials. Awesome way to start off the season. From a racing perspective, my races were fairly uneventful. My only close calls were skimming my right foot over the barrier next to the beer garden on the second lap of the 4/5 race and hitting my rear canti arm with the outside of my right knee at some point during the first race (counts as an official race because I drew my own blood). My fitness isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, but I was encouraged by the consistency I had during the day. All six laps were within 18 seconds of each other and my overall time for the second race was 1 second slower than the first race. My last lap of the day was only three second slower than my first lap of the day. 34th in the Men’s 4 Race and 18th in the Men’s 4/5.