OK, I know everyone is tired from all the racing this weekend. But everyone wants to hear how your racing went! So, in an attempt to inspire some creative writing, CXM is digging through the piles of stuff in the office trying to find a little something for the best race report from this weekends action.
Seems like Beth Hamon is taking an early lead. Anyone up for the challenge?
I think the reason they say "all bad things come in threes" is because after the third incident we're just too fed up to count the rest of our misfortune. It eventually just becomes one big blur of disappointment.
This past weekend, my roommate and I packed up the Explorer and headed down into the lowlands (or MD, as some people like to refer to it). True to form, the drive was subject to random interjections of Miley Cyrus and other obscure pop music for a good laugh. It was, however, absent from any Gwen Stefani influence, which I will admit I was quite distraught about. After a brisk three hour drive, we arrived in Germantown, MD to crash at my parents house for the night. A brief stop at a Red Robin informed us of two very important points: a high school town has much younger people than a college town, and Sam Adams Octoberfest is a pretty dull beer. I had planned to get a decent nights rest upon arriving at the house, but the SyFy channel provided a grand distraction in the form of the new Stargate series (I suppose we all have our weaknesses...) which kept me awake 'till well past 1 am. I truly do cherish my pre-race preparation...
We rolled out of bed Saturday morning and shot down a light breakfast. In the few years I have been away from home, my parents have switched to fat-free, lactose-free milk. They swear it tastes the same. I swear it tastes like milky water, but I didn't have any other option. I poured the hippy milk into my generic brand Raisin Bran, sliced up a banana, and felt content with my preparation. We grabbed our bags and headed out for the hour drive to the Breast Cancer Awareness Challenge Cross race (MABRA #2).
Not ten minutes passes before the best laid plans go awry. On the way to the highway I start hearing the engine rev like an angry bull. The sound was supplemented only by an "Oh shit!" from my roommate in the driver's seat. Turns out, the gas pedal got stuck down. I look at my roommate only to see his jaw quivering in fear and his face turning a pale white. Both his feet were pressing on the brake with as much force as his 5' 5" frame could emit, yet we were barely slowing. I reached over to pull the gas pedal up manually. The car would not shift into neutral, but we were able to slow it enough to slam it in park on the side of the road. My roommate recollected his breath, and his skin color, and we reembarked on our journey, this time with a very conservative gas pedal application.
We made it to the race without any further complications. Even though we showed up fairly early, the location was not ideal for a warm-up, and I used the only road adjacent to the parking lot for this purpose. Due to the limited space, I was only able to get three or four thirty second sprints and one pre-ride lap of the course before the start. The course had a fair amount of off camber 180 turns, quick steep ups, and only one set of barriers followed immediately by a sand pit. By the time I got to the start line after my pre-lap, I was sitting comfortably in the last line of riders, and the opening stretch did not provide a very wide or long lane for passing. I'm learning to get used to this situation more and more, but I still feel like I am allowed to complain.
Gun goes off, and the insanity spreads like a disease. The back of the pack is a nice place to rest once you get boxed in by riders, but I fought for a few spots in the brief time available. My legs felt sluggish, and my heart rate decided to restrict itself and not shoot above 180 no matter how hard I pushed. Early in the race, a rider ran into a light post that was in the middle of a straight away the preceded an off-camber 180 turn. He did not get up. An ambulance would eventually come and provide an interesting obstacle for the race, but I did not have time to be too worried about the rider. He seemed to be moving, which is a good sign, but I don't think he could stand on his own for a while (not so good a sign).
About halfway through the race I noticed my roommate was creeping up on my position. At the same time, I noticed my legs had started to feel fresh. Actually, I noticed my legs had started to feel very fresh, dare I say, even fast. I immediately bumped up the power and increased the pace. I was passing riders left and right at that point. Eventually, I got my buddy Denny Reel (The Bicycle Shop Inc.) in my crosshairs and started eating away at the time gap between us. Thirty seconds went to fifteen, then ten. Whenever I saw him exiting a corner I was just entering, I would give him a menacing point to let him know I was coming after him.
Gap now under five seconds. Second to last time through the barriers/sand pit, I let him know what was going down. "I'm coming after you!" He picked up the pace, I picked it up to match. Last time through the barriers, we were remounting with me right on his tail, but he was able to gap me a couple seconds on the last quarter of the course. I exited the last corner and started a sprint, but realized he was just a little too far to reach. I ended up finishing right behind him, and he finished right behind our friend Kyle. Results showed that I had come in 22nd out of 51 riders. Slightly better than dead mid-pack. With a terrible warm-up, start position, and first half of the race, I was pretty content with the finish (especially with the mid-race banter).
Fast forward a few hours. Jenni found out I was in town, so Derkits (roommate) and I went out with her to DC for a few post race beverages. We first visited Bethesda, but were overwhelmed by these fancy city-folk with their purty dresses and shiny shoes. Shucks, I guess us PA fellers just ain't fittin in with this crowd. We ended up in Chinatown at a solid bar with an incredible beer selection (almost as good as Zeno's here in State College, PA), but not until driving around for almost an hour trying to find a parking spot, and a questionable one at that.
During our refreshments, we learned that Derkit's throttle cable had frayed, and was getting stuck in the housing and causing the gas pedal to stay down. My parents of course were concerned, which meant that we were not going anywhere fast until this got fixed. We ordered another round of Belgium beer, and decided not to worry about it till we had to.
Sunday morning we prepped for Kelley Acres Cross, part 3 of the MABRA series. We procured a secondary means of transportation for the day, as the Explorer was out of commission. The event offered much better opportunity for warm-up, and the course had a lot of cool features. A "fly-over" was built specifically for the race, a few logs acted as barriers (certainly rideable for those mtb-ers like myself), a substantial climb, and long stretches would prove to make up a very interesting course. Unfortunately, I would not be able to enjoy the course.
My warm up was well executed, except my heart rate was still acting like a five year old child, and refusing to cooperate. It wouldn't touch 180 no matter how hard I tried... I just wasn't able to work at a high output for some reason. To compensate, I went to the line a few minutes early to ensure a good start. However, after standing around a bit I was getting cold. Derkits and I decided to roll down to the end of the road quickly to keep the legs moving. In the 20 seconds it took to get back to the line, the rest of the racers had just finished their pre-lap and rushed the line. In 20 seconds, I went from having the most ideal start position, to being lined up DFL. I suppose I could get used to these things...
The gun reverberates in my ears, and the back-of-the-pack latency period expires, we eventually start rolling. First lap goes fairly well, and I move up pretty effectively. Then everything goes to hell. I can feel my back start tightening up a bit. By the end of the second lap, my lower back is on fire. I try to push through it, but its a futile effort. I can feel each lap getting slower and slower. Riders I rode away from with ease the day before are passing me like I am standing still. In the last lap, I witnessed a minimum of 12 riders pass me. Over twenty percent of the field passed me on the final lap. No one ever wants to be lapped, but I felt privileged and honored to be lapped today... there was no way I could have suffered through another lap in that shape. I limped off the course, and an older gentlemen helped me stretch out the back, but the damage had already been done. Out of 37 finishers, I placed 34th. I almost got the elusive DFL for the day. I chatted it up with a few old friends at the race, then tucked my tail between my legs and headed on home.
The rest of the day was spent rushing out to Ford dealers trying to track down the throttle cable for the Explorer. Of course, parts departments are not open on Sundays, and on this particular Sunday, the whole dealership was out on a company picnic. We were stranded in the lowlands until Monday. I emailed a few of my professors, and received the quick witted comments of "well, you can always ride home." I passed on the option. However, Monday we found out the dealer did not have the part, and would have to ship it in from Baltimore. Sometime around noon, after many hours of watching Gordon Ramsey on BBC, we got the call from Ford saying the part was finally in. It took less then two minutes to install the part. We said our goodbyes and went on our way to return home to the valleys of central Pennsyltucky.
Hitting terra firma in State College was a great feeling. I love seeing the family in MD, but it grows old fast when you have to be there by force. The weekend was a medley of good beer, poor starting positions, slow hearts, fast corners, working bikes, broken cars, exciting commotion, and dull waiting. But it's cross season, and it was damn worth it.
A pitch for the Cheyenne Cycling Club Cyclocross Race Series. (Race report and pics at bottom of post)
The Cheyenne Cycling Club have scheduled a CX race series for every Saturday beginning this weekend (October 3rd) and ending on October 24th (same day as the Velo-Swap in Denver - oops). Information below ... if you're in the area and wanting to race CX but don't want to drive to Boulder and spend big $$ to race in a pack of 100+ just to get pulled after getting lapped halfway into the race (it takes a long time for 100 racers to string out on a course)- you should go to these races and see how many times you can lap me on the course!
OCTOBER 3, 10, 17, 24
TIME: 4 -6 p. m.
Location: Clear Creek Park
- A & B Level Racing
- Fantastic course for all levels
- Big time CX Racer? Come out and compete with the best in Cheyenne in an all-out "pain fest"
- Never done it but want to try it? Come see what CX is all about and have a blast with other riders!!!
-Want to watch? Come watch our racers in the most heart pounding 45 minutes imaginable!!!
CYCLECROSS IS A SPECTATOR SPORT SO BRING THE FAMILY FOR AN INCREDIBLE AFTERNOON OF BIKE RACING ACTION!!! DON'T FORGET YOUR COWBELL
RACE REPORT - October 3, 2009:
Drove to Chey-town w/ my good buddy Dewey to
sandbag the first Cheyenne CX Race and entered the B category.
My rational for not stepping up and racing with the A's
follows in this order:
1: It has been at least 10+ year since I raced in a cross race
2: I just moved from Wisconsin to Wyoming and need to
acclimate to the altitude (OK I've been here 4 months and
have my lungs - I'm milking this one for all it's worth)
3: I needed to do the early race and get home right after - never
mind we stayed and watched the entire A race!
Course: Clear Creek Park was the venue. Relatively flat but
the course designer did an excellent job of using grass sections,
a sand volleyball running section, lots of switchback / long
straights in the trees and a healthy dose of natural and barrier
induce running section (but only a total of 5 barriers on the course
Lots of changes of tempo - forcing the rider to accelerate
and slow down all over the course. Defiantly came back with
some new ideas for our pending CX race series.
Pre-race chaos: So like a dork with 2 cross bikes ... I bring them
both knowing one will get the nod and the other will stay locked
to the rack. I warm up on my Novara Element (plane-jane aluminum
frame/fork, 1x9 drive train w/ bar-con shifter, disk brakes, wire-bead
32cc tyres ... etc)- which is my B bike as my LeMond Poprad
(Reynolds 853 frame w/ a sweet old-school Colnago steel CX fork,
10 speed ultegra STI drivetrain,Ritchey stem/h-bat, and
31cc folding tyres) is my A bike, having built it up from a frame
only purchase last march into a completecross rig for this season.
Out during my warm-up I hear my already problematic seatpost on my
Novara slip and I know it going to be the Lemond for today ... or
so I thought. Go back to the car and switch bikes, pin my number
on my jersey and go back out on the course to finish warming up until
5-minutes till the start they call the group to Start/finish line and I
realize I have a rear flat on the LeMond! I got one bike with two
good wheels (disk-brake only) but with a bunk seatpost and
another bike with a flat tire and rim-break only wheels. On the way
back to the car to fix one of them - I remember they both have 27.2
seatposts ... I can pull the seat & post out from the LeMond and run
it on the Novara and be back a the line in 2 minutes. My pit mechanic
- Dewey hooked me up and I'm buying him pit mechanic boots in appreciation
of his work!
Race: Managable sized pack - 20 riders or so. Mellow start - decide
to ride in lead pack to get a feel for the tempo of the course and to see who
has some zip in their legs.
Second lap I and another rider from Laramie (Peter T.) get a small gap
on 2-3 chasers and I have the brilliant idea to take a long-hard pull on
a faster section to try and continue to open the gap. Worked great,
except for the fact that I take it into the red zone and on the next uphill
I'm fried and begin to loose time on Peter. Ended up chasing him the rest
of the race in vain - maybe got within 20-30 seconds a few times but
always ran out of juice! I did manage to keep a chaser or two at bay
and take 2nd place ... not bad for an old man with a reconstructed knee!
Fun course - great weather (45-50*) and cost for the day was less than
$25 including entry fee, gas and food.
Full Moon Vista brought a taste of Belgium to Parma, New York this past weekend with a muddy and technical cyclocross course that brought riders - and their bikes - to their knees. I, along with two of my teammates, lined up to contest the 1-hour open men’s category race.
At the whistle's blow, the group sprinted into the woods for the hole shot and were immediately met by a fast, slick downhill that sent haphazard riders to the ground. With the group bunched together, the first few corners were laughably slow, yet tricky. As the course continued and snaked throughout the park's trails, the racer’s bike handling skills were tested by a host of obstacles: deep mud puddles, off-camber and hairpin turns, wet bridges, and more mud. A challenging run up, and a single set of barriers rounded out the afternoon's technical parcours.
Despite the day's advantage being given to the more adept bike handlers, the three of us were holding our own. With 30 minutes remaining in the race, my teammate and I were both in the top 15 and gaining ground. Other riders, however, weren’t so lucky! As the race continued, the heavy mud and gravel combined to form a thick paste that clogged drivetrains and bent derailleurs into odd angles. Unfortunately, my other teammate couldn’t escape this recipe for disaster when, after powering up a steep gravel hill, his rear derailleur twisted inside his spokes causing his bike to squeal to a stop. His day – just like that of several others, was done. Victims of the mud!
Graced by only a single fall on the day, I began making up time in the remaining laps and soon found himself bridging to a lone rider. Together, we jockeyed for the lead position throughout the bell lap and ended the race sprinting side-by-side to the finish. Ultimately, I was nipped at the line by the rogue rider and ended the day in the 13th position. In his cyclocross debut, my other teammate managed to fall off of his bike three times, drop a chain, twist his saddle sideways, get tangled-up in the yellow boundary tape, and still cross the line in 18th place. Chapeau!
Iron Cross lite.
12:15 start. Whoot! I may want to start racing the Masters's Elites just for the start time. Probably not, tho.
After a night of rain and a dreary morning I had breakfast with my wife and 2 girls; nice change from the earlier starts, plus IC is less than 45 minutes away.
Got to see the end of the Cat 4 race and rooted fellow Hupster on, Gary Sterner. Also cheered Kevin Dillard on who squeeked out a photo finish. Took the long walk back to the car and got ready after depositing the pit bike in the pit. Got ready, warmed up, had a good chat with Bob Perna who parked across from me and Thor, who parked next to me.
We lined up in what was a combined Masters race although they would score us 35+, 45+, and 55+.
As the bell went off Thor, who was right in front of me, unclipped, stopping both of us. We went hard to catch up to the pack; I even passed him a bit until we made it into the turns. He passed me there, and tho I never lost sight of him, I never was able to catch him. I saw Jay Downs ahead of me and he became my "carrot". I knew I could catch him. After about 3ish laps I finally did, on the uphill barrier. I kept seeing Thor, Kevin Breckinmaker, and Perna ahead of me but I just couldn't catch them. I wound up getting lapped with maybe 1/2 lap to go, fighting off Nunzio at the finish line. Had I known it was him, I probably would've let it go since I wasn't really racing him (or Perna, for that matter). All in all, I felt pretty good. I wasn't too sure how I'd do, since I had been fighting a cold all week and really didn't sleep well the night before. 18th out of 26 starters over all; 5th out of 9 45+ racers. Closest to the podium I've ever been.
As for the course; I don't know why it is but this race doesn't get a lot of racers; it should. It's a great course with a little of everything; sand, grass, stones, fast packed dirt, hills, descents, and even a bit of single track. For any of you Mid Atlantic racers that read this. I HIGHLY recommend it, esp if you can't do the Mother of all Cross Races the next day, Iron Cross.