Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cyclocross Season has Arrived!

I have always enjoyed Cyclocross, but have never really had good fitness at the end of the year.  I have had some reasonable results, but nothing to write home about.  I am usually struggling to find motivation to stay on the bike after 8-9 months of training and racing.  This year has gone pretty well with respect to training and racing, so I am coming into the CX season a lot fitter and more motivated than ever.   There was some debate in my head about whether to race in the B’s or go straight to the Master’s 35+ class.  Since CX is in a class by itself in some respects.  It’s not quite road racing, although tactics and drafting come into play, and it’s not exactly Mountain Biking, even though you are mostly in dirt and riding with knobby tires… albeit skinny ones.  My point is… just because someone is fast in one venue or another, doesn't mean jack in CX.  Fast guys will still be fast and slow will be slow, but just because you can beat someone on the road or on the trail, doesn't mean you can best them in a CX race!   For this reason, I chose to stay in the B’s and see how it goes.

Kensington Day 1:
After getting there at a reasonable time and getting in a quick loop of the course in my street clothes… (Obviously I didn't get there early enough!).  I got everything set and it was quickly time to go.  I was a little worried as I didn't get a good warm up, but that’s life.  The course was really rough and sandy with lots of turns and no real straightaway sections. 

After I quick loop or so, I weaseled my way into the front row of the 40+ B’s and waited nervously for the start.  One of the changes for this year was splitting the B’s into 2 groups… under and over 40.  Being old… I was in the 40+ group which would start 30s behind the under 40 group, which started 30s behind the elite women.  This adds a dynamic to the race that I wasn't sure about… having to pass a lot of people.  It was a level playing field as we would all have to pass the same people to win, but they could be moving targets and potential hazards.  In my head, just like in mountain biking, I was planning to try and get around them as fast as possible, putting them between myself and the guys behind me.

The whistle blew and I got the initial jump.  The guy to my left was bound and determined to win the race before the first corner, so I let him go and jumped on his wheel.  He blew the first technical corner and I went by him and put the hammer down.  Things went well until I caught one of the elite women who was being overtaken by one of the younger B men and was run into the tape as they almost got into each other in the corner.  I took off and soon realized that the tape was caught on my seat post, but somehow managed to get it off without stopping.   Brian got around me during the incident and so I took up chase for a couple of laps.  I kept him in sight, but couldn't seem to real him in and started to ease up a bit when I saw that he had a bit of trouble.  I started to chase hard again and reeled him in towards the end of the 2nd to last lap.  I went around him and pushed hard on the last lap and had a pretty good gap.  The only issue was that my hand had blistered in the palm due to the bumps and had torn open.  Needless to say, it wasn't a pleasant feeling and wasn't helping my concentration.  While working by a couple of riders, I took a less than desirable line and had to unclip as the bike slide out.  When I remounted, I noticed the chain was off and it wasn't going back on very quickly.  After fiddling with the front derailleur I got the chain on and was under way.  Riding easy through a bumpy area near the finish line, trying to keep my hand from being shredded, Brian came by me and I was back in chase mode.   We had a couple corners and the sand pit till the finish.  I made sure to take a fast line through the turn before the sand and managed to go by Brian and hold on for the win.  This was my first CX win!  I was pretty stoked.
With 2 big blisters on my right palm… Kensington Day 2 will be interesting.

Kensington Day 2:
Adam - The Bunny?!
An attempt to get to the race earlier failed, although I did go out and warm up a bit better than day 1.  The course was modified slightly and run in reverse through a lot of the sections.  It was getting really sandy and loose.  There were a lot of crashes at the start of the C race due to the loose conditions.  After taping up the hand, I lined up in the front row with the usual suspects and got a good laugh as Adam York was strutting around in a dog suit heckling… I thought he was the Bunny?!

At the start, Thomas pulled in front and then the same guy from yesterday squeaked by both of us.  He again blew an early corner and Thomas and I went around.   Thomas was setting a pretty good pace so I just stayed on his wheel.  Halfway through the lap Josh took off and I followed.  He was putting it down on the flats and I was having to really work hard to keep him in sight, but would close the gap on the climbs near the end of the lap.  I could also see Todd charging hard from behind, motivating me to keep pushing.  At this point my hand felt like there were nails on the handle bar and every downhill or braking event was painful.  I kept debating on dropping out… but continually told myself it will be over soon.   I caught and passed Josh at one point, but he quickly recovered and went back around.  I knew my only chance was to attack at the climbs near the finish.  As he slowed on a climb near the end, I attacked and didn’t let up till the top of the last climb and rolled in for the win.   My hand was happy to be done… hopefully it will heal up before the Lower Huron race in a couple of weeks!

Trails Edge Podium Sweep!
Congrats to Lako and Osgood on their wins and the Bunny for a dominant win in the A’s!

Lower Huron:
After all the rain late in the week and the day before the race, I was worried it was going to be a total mudfest.  They had called for rain the day of and it had been raining early in the AM, but seemed to be clearing up.  As we headed to the race, the clouds moved on and it was looking like it was going to be a great day!  With being fully recovered from Crank the Shield and having some CX specific training under my belt, I was feeling good coming into this race.  The only concern rolling around in my head was that Lower Huron always has a couple of expressway sections and it will be interesting to see who can keep the pace high in these areas.  Learning from the Kensington race, I left a half hour early and got there with enough time to do a couple laps and get a good warm-up in.  Surprisingly, the course had very little mud and the temps were approaching 70?! 

The start of this race is a long straight pavement stretch that is basically a drag race.  Todd took off like a bullet and I end up settling in on his wheel.  He was setting a blistering pace and we were passing people in large groups.  On the pavement at the start of lap 2, I looked back and saw that Brian was with us, so I attacked to put some separation between us and make him do his own work.  This put me in front of Todd and I never let up the whole lap.  I was alone the rest of the race and just held a steady hard effort and rolled in for the win.  I also had the fastest time in the B’s, so I am going to move up to Masters 35+ for the Lake Orion race and see how I fair.  Should be fun!


BrAdLaKo said...

Stay motivated.... the big ones right around the corner - Great job man!

Nathan said...

Dad... get a new hobby!