I made the trip this last weekend out to Michaux state park to race Iron Cross. I did the Hilly Billy Roubaix earlier this year, so I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. I arrived at the start with Adam Newman from Dirt Rag after camping really close to the start. Rolling to the start line from the pre-race meeting, I knew I had to get a good position. I wanted to stay with the leaders as long as I could, and I knew there would be several bottlenecks leaving the starting ground. I was very lucky and had a front row position that led straight into the short course before we hit the road.
The organizer made some announcements then made the 30 second call. At the go, I made use of the good start technique from all the Tuesday practice starts. I grabbed the hole shot into the first turn. I was feeling pretty good. I let a few people around and was sitting comfortable in the top 5. We went through a narrow passage around a gate, and I knew people would be trying to squeeze through there for several minutes.
If I hadn’t done the HBR, I would have been afraid of hammering so hard so early in the race, but I figured that I would have plenty of energy for the day as long as I was able to drink enough. On the first hill up to checkpoint 1, I lost contact with the leaders and decided I had to ride at my own pace. After CP1, there was several miles of rocky single track. I was pretty sure my arms were going to rattle off, I was going to pinch flat, or just wipe out into some trees. I was feeling glad that I at least had in-line brake levers. I ended up with a couple of guys working pretty smoothly on the next road section and on a gravel climb several guys fell back. After crossing a grassy field I hit the first “run up”. I didn’t have bottle cages, so I was able to shoulder my bike while I passed a couple of people who were struggling up the steep rocky face along some power lines. I was definitely glad to see CP2 at the top.
Between the 2nd and 4th CP was sort of a blur. After CP4, I was starting to feel a little tired, I probably hadn’t eaten enough food before the race. I hit the second section of single track and my spirits dropped. There were quite a few log and tree barriers that I could have ridden, but didn’t. My hands were starting to get raw from all the vibrations. Three guys who I dropped earlier passed me quickly. I exited the woods and started to feel better. I hit the last run up and down the last descent before the finish. I dismounted over the barriers right before the finish, and remounted so I could cross the line on my bike. I drank some coke and ate a couple burritos and started to feel pretty good. I ended up 13th at just under 4h 20min.
I would do this race again (but maybe wear gloves next time). Steph Swan raced the women for ICBR with a good finish, despite breaking her chain near the beginning. So much fun!!