It’s worth a drive to Waco to ride a Kevin Fawley designed CX course: up-hill 180 right after the start straight, slanting section leading to a steep off-camber, asphalt section through the finish line, a fast sloped grass section, sweeping bend, U-ye, followed by a grip-your –bars- then your brakes to be spit out onto the low part of the circuit which is exited by a genuine bike over the shoulder run-up – and that is less than half the course. It was not overly technical, i.e. twisty, but there was plenty of room for mistakes, especially with increasing pace – as I was later to demonstrate (demonstrate mistakes, that is, not so much increasing pace).
The race fortunately did not start in the downpour that was experienced during the drive but the wetness made for a rapidly slickening parcours. The corners soon developed ruts and what was solid caliche became a sticky matrix of goo that required some determination to get through.
The 60+ race, this time, had their own start. The quip on the line was that all but one would be on the podium and fourth place was not too bad a finish place. Hence the start was not the usual madcap dash of a mixed age group Masters field. I felt within my capacity and settled into third place with everyone in sight for most of the first lap when Dave Parks came from behind and said “Let’s go.” Well I was not as ready as he was. Off he went in pursuit of a strong-starting Chris Thibodeau. I could not get into the flow of the course. I would get a section just right, then congratulating myself on a job well done, screw up on the next section. Did a sharp dismount for the barriers, then caught my knickers on the remount and tumbled “ass over teakettle.” I came to a stop three times in the heavy mud section – using three different approaches. I thought I had the off camber up hill figured out, cutting to a sliver of grass on the inside three times in a row; well, the fourth time did not work and down I went – which is where I was passed (again) by Whitney Fanning. All these shenanigans allowed Thidodeau and Parks to ride away and handed me a real battle with Fanning who would come around me in the handling sections when I was not obstructing him too much. Past the mid-way point I made a determined effort on the run-up boxing Whitney behind a slower competitor, and then not seeing him for a while, thought he had faded for good. But he fought back and taking advantage of my mistake on the off camber, got a good gap on me.
I started to feel resigned to “fourth place”, when, with two laps to go I could see I was gaining some ground. Did I finally have the course rhythm? I planned my effort for the last lap. If I could not take him on the run-up, I would still have a chance on the asphalt climb. Unfortunately the 40+ leader passed us and the race was over. Chris who was in contact with Parks was also pulled even though he was not technically lapped which deprived him of a last lap challenge. Parks missed the cut and had to ride an ‘extra’ lap to win. That was a bittersweet consolation; he got to enjoy the full distance of an interesting and challenging course.