The beginning of October brought the beginning of the GACX series. Bryan Schoeffler and I decided to knock out some openers up in Greenville at day one of the Carolina CX Omnium before heading to the first Georgia race. The racing was hard and it was stupid hot outside. I finished a respectable last place after getting annihilated on the last lap by Chris Butler. There was too much pedaling for my taste.
Sunday marked a return to Grant Park. This is my third year in a row racing at GP and I think it's been improving every year. Last year it was a National Calendar race, like our race in Savannah was, and they continued a high level of race promotion and course design this year despite dropping off the NC.
I was excited for Grant Park as it promised a bigger field than the two races I had done so far in South Carolina. I wanted to see exactly where I stacked up in the Georgia scene, and I was happy to have some guys to race with who were in the same position as me. There were plenty of new Cat 2s out there still trying to find their sea legs this early in the season. I felt good on the course and had a clean race. Most importantly, I felt like I was actually racing the whole time, instead of just riding hard at the back.
GACX headed to Athens the following week. I missed this weekend of racing last year because of work, so I was sure that I wouldn't miss it two years in a row and no hurricane was stopping me. Jen and I loaded up and drove to my parents' house in Columbia Thursday, and then trekked over to Athens on Friday. Both races were at breweries, so it was sure to be a good time no matter how the racing went.
And the racing Saturday didn't go well. It was another pedal heavy course, with two pinwheels and a draggy uphill in the woods. On top of that, I botched a remount and landed on my back tire late in the race. In the process of embarrassing myself in front of everyone on "heckle hill" I also bent my rear brake arm into a rather odd angle. I took a bike change and limped in for 14th place, and got lapped for the first time this year. I was fine with it. One more lap would have been the worst.
I bent the brake arm straight in the parking lot, and managed to crack it in the process. That didn't stop me from racing it on Sunday though. I like that bike more. It's lighter and I feel like I have it more dialed in. Worth the risk.
Sunday I rode over to the course early to do some preview laps with teammate Gregg. After heading back to the hotel and packing up, it was time for day two. Again, I felt like I was actually racing today instead of just flogging myself at the back of the field. I could see the group I wanted to be with, but never quite got to them. Still, I was always racing with someone for the full 60 minutes, and constantly trying to move up. The course felt a little bit better today, and actually had some features I looked forward to. Ironically, even though I felt better today and finished on the lead lap, I actually finished one place worse than Saturday- 15th place.
Two weeks of GACX races have given me an opportunity to reassess where I am and set goals for the season. Some real-life stuff is preventing me from making one big trip I had planned to DC, and the budget likely doesn't allow too many trips outside of GA/SC/NC this winter. NCGP in Hendersonville is likely the only UCI race I'll be lining up for.
I know that I won't be going to Nationals this year, and that's both an odd concept to grasp after three years of making that trip and a welcome break. At least I can eat whatever I want at Christmas this year. I would have liked to be able to give myself more chances to get ProCX points and MAYBE qualify for nationals, but in my first year as a 2, I don't think that wading into the big races is a bad idea.
Moving forward this season, I've got my eyes on a top ten finish in the GACX Pro/1/2 overall standings, and finishing top ten is a realistic goal for each individual race I line up for. I've also got my eyes on a state championship jersey in the single speed race. I feel like I have a little bit more direction now after a few weeks of racing and even though it's not quite the direction I was hoping for, it's comforting having those goals in place.