Monday, September 22, 2008

That was Hard

It's kind of a running joke at work. But I think Donny Precourt started it, and Geo made it thrive. But we all tend to say it when the going gets....well tricky at least. Tricky'll qualify for a "This is hard". i.e. being forty up on shaky staging and trying to hammer in that last nail that's down the rake just a little too far.
Any way I digress from the hard Cross race.

But first, the less hard Cyclocross race.

When I was looking at Cross races to do this past weekend the Velo-Cross course looked promising. A few forced dismounts, some questionable ridding parts, lots of turns in the woods, not a ton of wide open tarmac. Sounds like fun. Plus you get to start and finish on the Velodome. Which, by the way I had no idea how this was going to work. I had imagined a wooden semi-indoor setup with big banked walls that went all kinds of high up. Were we going to do a loop on the parkay and then slip out through some tunnel in the middle of the infield? Oh the illusions. I was only slightly disappointed (and brought back down to earth) when I arrive to see a paved oval with moderately banked turns that was more of a pit in the ground than a collusium of cycling colossus. But it was still cool.
The course was cool too. Barriers on the infield (sans tunnel...sad), around the "dome" on to a rideable uphill burm, woods road, a fun downhill that was fast and then jam/lockup the breaks and let everyone for miles around know that your front brake squeals bad.... it just won't go away...into a tight rideable hairpin, down over fun bridge, some more hairpins through the woods, gravely field like section with some more turns, including this stupid turn with some barrels that pretty much required coming to a complete stop to go around...stupid turn...forced dismount up a little knoll and back to the infield....

On to the race.
I thought I was being all slick and in the know getting to the start 15 min early, putting my bike on the line and finishing my stretching from there. And it worked out 'till the gun went off and I then realized that people go REALLY hard off the start. Like stupid hard as if the race is going to be won on the first my being on the start was all for not and I got caught in some mega mayhem. But honestly that's where the raceing is pretty fun. Passing people, running around, into and over people, making the move, putting down the hammer out of a turn. I got my fair share of that on Saturday.
I picked my way through the field and saw that some buck was pretty far off the front and seemed like 2nd would be the place to shoot for. Turns out young buck went out like a jack rabbit and started to implode on him self. (as well as dropping a chain a few times going over the barriers) Once I caught him he tried to jump on my wheel, but I made him pull for a few more seconds of misery before spitting him out the back. I think I caught him with three laps to go. I cranked one to unsure the lead. Let up a little on the 2nd, and cooled down on the third/last/bell lap. That was fun. Plus I won 50 bucks. That was fun too.

Sunday was a different story.
I'm new to this whole USACycling thing and think having to petition/ask to move through the ranks is annoying and a nuisance. I mean I am glad that sandbaggers are made to move up. But if you want to race up a level shouldn't you be able to? What I'm getting at is that my entrance to the cat 3 race was a little questionable....I'll leave it at that.
Any who. the course at Suckerbrook seemed like a roadie's little playground. Only two forced dismounts and lots of wideopen flattish terrain. Some turns, but nothing to make or brake you. There was a sandpit, but that was just an opportunity to trash your bike and get lots of grit in your overly lubricated chain.
Plus it was hot....and hard.

So my plan du jour was to not get on the start line first, shoot for DFL and see how far up the field I could work my self. (turns out it's pretty far, albeit I don't think I was every DFL, it was too exciting when everyone goes off so fast) But it did seem to make sense that getting out ahead of the mayhem may make it extra hard for a lap or two, but then you can cruise without getting caught up in the slinky turns and falls etc. I ended up ridding with a decent sized group of guys that I'm gonna call the chase, or 'B' pack. There seemed to be 5 guys up front who were opening things up a bit. Two really together and then a couple more stringers. Interestingly for me, my friend Positive Self Thought was not affable, and so I tried to figure out what spot I had a realistic shot a securing, (which I will learn is a mistake) I'm pretty sure I was looking to hold a reign onto 6th place, but wait it gets intersting (sort of).

Or course 6th would have been more attainable if I hadn't slided/skided out twice. Each time I was just starting to pull away from the 'B' group but alas got back up and found my self chewing the tread of some inferior rider. (I think the lesson here is that it pays to be just a little reserved in the sketchy corners...that or I need to spend my time on a Mtn bike/work on my technical skills...which I thought might be a strong suit) Any who,
I was battling it up for sixth, when, on the bell lap, fourth and fifth place were dropping fast. My legs were getting pretty tired and my brain was all kinds of confused. It's seldom in a triathlon that I have to think about tactics or when I can use the last of my fuel or make a move to gain a spot. I was kind of just thinking, "Okay, last lap, lets bring it on in. We'll just kind of cruise behind this joe for a while and then maybe make a move at the end. Huh. Wait. No. I need to go hard this whole lap and try and pass him. Dude, go, Go!"

We passed fourth and fifth during this kind of sketchy woods section on the back stretch. At this point I was seventh and sucking wheel right behind this dude from Claremont Cycles (or something) who happened to finish behind me on Saturday, and what's up with that? So we were bombing along in all kinds of flailing manner. I made the stupid mistake of thinking these two dudes were so toasted that they wouldn't even be able to hold our wheels. (they did) I also made the stupid mistake of not passing the dude ahead of me when I could have. I like to believe that if I had I would have stayed ahead due to the decel and accel out of turns, but who knows. Any way Claremont dude was pulling away and over my shoulder I was feeling comfortable about my lead into the last 300 yards. Until Bucky Behind me came at me fast and I had to put in a sprint that would have made Robbie McEwen proud. I haven't been that close to puking in a long time. Dude, I felt ill. I was in fifth but, seriously not liking life.
Such a fun change from Tris. Read; bye bye two hours of racing by your self.
Fifth is cool, plus being top three and in the money might have been kind of awkward.

Trying to figure out how the top two were a minute up on us. I think being out of the fray from the start was key. But then again, no one would have yelled "Whoa! Rider down and out!" when I ate it on the off-camber hairpin. That was hard.

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