Seeing nothing behind me but empty space as we waited for the gun Saturday left me with only one positive thought: at least I won’t get passed tonight. This year’s Starcrossed marked not only the beginning of the ’08 season, but also the start of a new series for me with my recent move to Seattle. So instead of battling it out with Dougger, Phil, and Hartman at the Fort, I’ll be relaying stories of fighting the slop with hundreds of strangers in Puget Sound.
The rain, technical course, and old MT camaraderie worked in my favor and led to a better-than-anticipated race around the velodrome. With 85+ people wound up, staring at a couple hundred yard sprint to kick off the race, there was no doubt that a good start was crucial. Shaun provided just that, and I was able to follow the pink highlighted cougar on his back as we worked our way from the tail through the masses heading in to the first turn. From there aggressive riding, breaking spirits, and undirected anger were key in continuing to pick people off throughout the race. I even started to think Bill Martin might have been on to something with his token 'what happened?' starts and flying finishes during Wednesday night races. Getting caught and passed after a half-hour of pinning it is the mental equivalent of getting your balls slammed in a car door, so it was nice to be on the favorable end of the door closing. My legs felt strong, my lungs held up to the most work they’ve seen since moving to sea level, and not even a late race wash-out and chain-drop could wipe the dirt and slobber-caked smile off my face.
In the end, 45 minutes proved to be just the right amount of time to spend in the red as I rolled across the line in 9th, 72 places ahead of my starting position. A motivating start to the season that reminded me that, while Starcrossed is no Rolling Thunder, this sport is still the best racing there is on two wheels.
For those interested, I’ll keep you all posted on how the white, pink, and blue coug hangs through the season in the cross-soaked northwest.