Last night I dropped in on the local Kermesse Cup series for a flogging. This particular edition was the Buckley Slough Kermesse.
What is a kermesse, you ask? Well, a thorough description of the European standard would be found here, but for the purposes of this local series, it's a short loop bicycle road race that is partially on dirt/gravel roads. The format is a point-a-lap sprint at a designated location on each lap, with a neutral after to regroup.
|The entrance into the gravel |
section (and where the
real racing started) to the right
(photo by Alfredo Rmz)
Last night's edition was on a basically flat 5K loop course, just over 1 mile of which was on a canal trail service road, with the sprint near the end of the gravel double-track.
I transferred over my 28mm road tires to a new set of wheels I'd built up a while back, and they now measured out to 30mm (WTB I-19 Team rims), and I figured I was as ready as I ever would be.
My warm-up was interrupted by volunteering to retrieve another rider who had flatted at the farthest point on the course, so when we all started into the gravel section right from the opening whistle, I wasn't ready for the first-lap-of-the-criterium mad pace. I barely hung on, and was the last to catch onto the group during the neutral. But it got better. I had to remind myself that I was going up against guys that were still racing on a regular basis, and I hadn't done anything like this in close to 10 years. [yeah, yeah, I know... "excuses excuses"]
|Promoter and winner |
Michael Pruitt in background,
second place Alfredo Rmz in
foreground (photo by Alfredo Rmz)
On subsequent laps, I became more active in the mix-up, taking my share of dust and pulls, chasing down early flyers, and having a great time. My lines through the rougher stuff got better, getting my "land legs" in the gravel at speed. Something I'm not used to, even with all the gravel riding I've done.
On the fourth lap, just as the final sprint lead-out was winding up, I gave a good push to hang on, and my back tweaked on me. I've had some issues with my back since a few days after the Capitol Forest ride, and up to that point it felt best when I was riding. This was a definite and very abrupt giving out, and I backed off and just soft-pedaled to the regroup. I let them know I was done, and hung it up when we got back to the start area.
Sure, my fun was over for the night, and it made for a very restless and painful night of barely-any-sleep (and a visit to the chiropractor this afternoon), but I think I did okay, all things considered. Met some new friends, got a good, if short workout, and had fun.
Would I do it again? Maybe, but if I do I'll stick with my normal gravel road set-up of 38mm rubbers and leave the road tires at home. And go in with a healthy back.