This past Saturday before the big storm is set to hit, I headed down to south jersey to compete in the Independence CX race. Being so far from home, about 2+ hours, there was a good reason that I haven't attended in the past. It's kinda hard to justify driving that far and only racing for 1 hour. So be it. Since I am persuing the NJBA cross cup I figured I'd get down there and hope for a great result and get closer to the podium. It's gonna take some big effort down the home stretch of the calendar but who knows. I'll just ride steady and see how it goes.
So I pull up and see yards of tape crossing everywhere. I get turned around just looking at the tape and even more turned around just riding the course. It's not your typical cx course as there's maybe only 50 feet of actual grass there. The rest is nice dirt/sand trails back in the woods. The technical features on the course were the beach run and the amphitheater of pain. The amphitheater is as it sounds with large steps to run up. It did get painful with every sequential lap for sure.
As I toed the line I had a nice front row call up and I hoped to use that to the best of my ability. We went off the line hard and there were some pretty fast guys in the group so I just hoped I could stay steady and get a nice finish. Off the line I was probably 7th or so into the woods. It was a hard start. Redlined off the gun I hope everyone would settle in a little. They kinda did as around one of the first bends a racer goes down tangled with one another and struggled to get going again. I had a clear line around so I just pinned it and didn't look back. That may not have worked to my advantage as I hit the beach and it seemed like I was standing still. I wasn't feeling it and one by one racers started passing me. I knew I was in for a long day if I kept feeling like this.
At this point I was looking for anything as a sign of hope. At one point I was going back and forth with Andrew Logudice and from previous races I know he's a strong rider. I couldn't hold him at one point and had to let him go. A few laps later in sections that he'd been out of sight, I saw him again so it seemed like I was gaining. That's all I needed for extra motivation. I put in some good efforts to close to him and I did. We passed and repassed each other as we had different grooves on the course. I said to him at one point to work together to try and pass the next rider which was Nick from Colavita. I took the climbs and hard corners and Andrew punched it on the flats and soon enough we caught up to Nick. In the second to last lap it was me, Nick, and Andrew hitting the biggest climb on the course. I put in a hard effort to try to get away and I just heard a lot of noise as somehow Nick threw himself on the ground. I hoped he was ok but had to press on to see if I could keep my gap and maybe see the guy ahead. As I hit the last lap I looked at those few sections on the course where you could see the others and there was no one ahead or behind. Somehow I shed Andrew as well.
I put down all I had left to keep my gap and finished with no more place exchanges and a good second half of the race. I was happy to have finished so well with not feeling good at all for the first half. Checking the results later I was 10th of 23 in a pretty good field on a pretty non-traditional course. I'd call it a good day.