The 2012 Washington State Cyclocross Championship course was at the Arlington Airport, a small regional airport with a giant, wet, soggy, field. The course looked like the organizers strapped a GPS tracking chip to a rabbit, chased it around the field then put up tape along the rabbit’s path.There were at least five types of mud on the course: grassy mud, greasy mud, dry deep mud, wet deep mud and wet deep slop mud. While the course was dreadfully slow, the field was fast and the riders were intense.
The Cat 3 races were the last of the day. During my pre-ride I found some good traction “under the tape” - way out on the sides of the course. By time I was racing, even these areas were completely tracked out.
The Cat 3 Open field started first and my 35+ field started 60 seconds later. I started in the second row and quickly hammered up near the front. There was a long straight immediately following the first turn so I lit it up and charged up to third. The pavement gave way to muddy grass and I didn’t let up…go go go. I was off the front. About ¾ of the way into the first lap I was starting to pick off open riders. The mud was so deep and slow in sections shouldering the bike was much faster (I watched Logan Owen do this in the earlier Cat 1 race) The course also included a steep dry deep muddy run-up and a death spiral with deep mud was sloppy during my pre-ride but now nearly un-rideable.
Once I established a confident gap over my field, I battled with the open field racers for “less slow” lines and hammered when I had traction. On the last lap I let off the gas just slightly to ensure a totally mistake and mechanical-free finish. I was surprised and delighted that I finished fourth overall (with the fastest time of all the Cat 3 riders), where the three faster riders started in the open field race a minute earlier than me!