There comes a time in a race when you know you’re pushing as hard as you can. Your heart rate is at the max, you’re legs are pumping, and you can’t hear over the rush of blood pounding through your ears. You take a moment to look behind you, and see… no one.
At this point, you can glean one of two things. Either you’ve made a break that no one can match, you’re in front and your gap is growing. or, in my case, you know that you’re probably in DFL.
I wish I could blame my bike-but it was working fairly well. I wish I could blame the course, but it was fast and fun (an no one else seemed to be hindered). I wish I could blame the big crash at the start line, but fortunately, I was in front of that mess, implying that I got a great start (which I did). Nay, blame lies sadly in one spot-that’s right, the Spanish Inquisition.
Okay, here’s how things went down. I picked up my buddy Glen at about 7:00am and made the hour or so drive to Plymouth, MA. In case you didn’t know, Plymouth has TWO high schools, so if you plug Plymouth High School into GoogleMaps, you’ve got a 50/50 shot of getting the right one. As usual, the odds were against me and we arrived at the high school without a single course marker, port-o-let, or person. Incidentally, as this weekend was a two-day race in Plymouth, the race promoters used the north high school for day one and the south high school on day two (which would have been apparent to me if I had read the flyer). You can imagine our confusion at seeing clear signs of a recent race (tire tracks in the mud), but not another soul.
Anyway, after some BlackBerry and iPhone maneuvering, we found the correct location. The delay did however give me a simple answer to the question of “should I pre-ride the course?” We got there in just enough time for me to pin my number on, sign my one-day license and find the staging area. I muscled my ironic flat bar ‘cross bike to the start line and within a few minutes, the start whistle had been whistled.
After a few hard pedal strokes I heard the unmistakable sound of knobby tires meeting knobby tires, followed by some crashing. Fortunately, this occurred behind me. Unfortunately, everyone that was held up with that calamity seemed pass me not too much later. I felt great heading into the woods on the singletrack, but as soon as we hit the huge field of grass, I felt like I was riding on two flat tires.
The remainder of the race was mostly unremarkable. I kept up the effort, and pretty much settled in to my approximately 30th place spot. I made sure I didn’t lose any spots, but I couldn’t seem to bridge up any further… until the final climb up to the finish.
I came up behind another rider that seemed to feel about as fresh as I did (not). I hung in behind him down a slick, off-camber, wet, grassy downhill and put the hammer down on the last climb. I passed him, but then exploded. And I do mean exploded. I honestly don’t know what happened. Did my chain skip or slip? Did my back wheel spin out? Did someone shoot me from a grassy knoll? I don’t know. But what I do know is that I was suddenly falling face first into a large rock. I was able to keep my pretty face from making contact, but I was totally off my bike, and oddly enough, out of one of my shoes. Needless to say, that guy passed me. With the reflexes of a ninja, I jumped back on my bike and finished the race doing a one-legged sprint to the line. See GPS data for the course here.
And while I didn’t have to wait around for a medal, I did wait around to put another effort out on the course. I raced again at noon (this time with my buddy Glen), both in the Master 35+. I over estimated my athletic prowess as I was caught by the leaders by the third or fourth lap. I decided to drop out, get cleaned up, and take some pics of Glen’s race.
All in all, the day was a good beating. That cheeseburger on the way home and the beer later that night tasted so good though! Next up, Sterling, MA, Thanksgiving weekend!
IF for any reason (boredom, procrastinating, internet addiction) you want more pics, you can check ‘em out here: http://beardedbiker.blogspot.com/
- 1029 total racers for the day
- Beginner Women: 54 racers
- Junior Men: 36 racers
- 50+ Men: 62 racers
- Unicycles: 6 racers
- Largest category again goes to the Masters 35+ C: 152 racers
Brian Johnson aka i_r_beej finishes 69 in the Masters 35+ B
Jim Hendrickson aka Holstein finishes 34 in the Clydesdales
Absent: Allen, Guy, Jesse and Jordan but my gal and I were there for moral support and heckling.
Jim & Brian
A junior friend of mine named Naiqwan Pelman, watch out for him!
Local freak-bike builder and Team Beer rider, Barnaby Casey
A view from the bottom
I did the double this weekend. Or at least tried. On Saturday, I traveled over to Anniston, AL for the Bama Cross #5 under the lights. It was held at a local softball/baseball park. It was a good course for me. It was mostly flat and dry around and between the fields. Some might say that’s not cross, but it works for me. It did have a run up, one muddy section, and one sand pit. Of course my race started just as the sun was going down; so there was dew on the grass which made it slippery. The mud section was pretty cool as it went down and through 1 side of a ditch and out the other. Then you did a 180 and went back through the ditch. Mud on both sides and a little water in the bottom of the ditch. The sand pit was my fav, but it sure kills your drivetrain. I managed to make ground on people as I was able to ride the sandpit all 5 laps.
The race started on a pavement section and I hit it hard. I managed to get the hole shot and was in the lead by myself for the first half a lap. I wanted to get out front so I could hit the sandpit with “clean air” and avoid any carnage. That worked, but I went too hard and guys started passing me by the end of the first lap. I held on as best I could, grabbed a wheel when possible, and fought to stay in the top ten. We had about 50 guys so I figuered top 10 was pretty good. The course went through the middle of the park and hit the sand pit, and then a chicane before the finish. This whole section was packed with people; beer and dollar bill handups. There was a rumor of a hundred dollar bill in there. So, I was looking. I managed to grab 2 handups, but they were both singles. 2 bucks…does that make me a pro now??? Made it fun though. I managed to crash, again. Got bruised up and mud in my handlebars and other places….don’t ask. But I was still able to hang in near the leaders. On the last lap I passed 2 guys by riding the sandpit while 1 crashed and 1 ran. I ended up in either 8th or 9th. Final results still not clear because there was a snafu with some lapped riders that they are still trying to work out. Still it felt pretty good as it was my best finish of the season. I really felt like a top 5 was going to happen. Maybe next time. We’ve probably got about 10 more races here in the deep south. I really could do more, but would have to travel more than several hours one way to hit all of them. Hard to go that far with family.
I got home around 9:00 pm and begin trying to clean out the mud and readjust my handlebars and seat and der from the crash. Got up Sunday and heading to the Ga CX#6. We have had a lot of rain and bad flooding here this season and we had more on Tuesday and Wednesday. That lead to some interesting aspects for Sunday’s race. The course weaves around a couple of small creeks/ditchs and down beside 1 larger creek. As of the Wednesday before the race, about 50% of the course was under water; some by as much as a foot. By Sunday most of the water had receeded, but it left mud and sand behind. Yes, sand. A lot of it. It was in excess of 12 inches deep in some places. Even the paved portions on the lower end of the course had a few inches on sand over it. Of course, here in the deep south, mid 70′s in November can happen too. Like it did today. Way too warm for CX, but that’s the way it goes. I guess that is the trade off for it drying out the water and just leaving the Georgia sand behind
The course was already tough for me as it had three hills to climb each lap. Momma didn’t make no climber. It also had a muddy runup, with barriers. It had a muddy, railroad tie run up. It also had 2 muddy downhill drop offs. At the bottom of the the first drop you had a hard right turn to avoid tress and at the bottom of the second dropoff you had to avoid some trees, dismount and jump a small creek/ditch with running water. There was also another ditch crossing with standing water and 1 off camber 180 turn finished by another 90 degree turn through a muddy drop after the first road climb. So, add the sand and it made for a long day for me. I was running late thanks to working on my bike the night before and helping with a sick child. So, I really didn’t get a good warmup and was late to the line. So, I started from about the 5th row. We had about 50 guys again. I did the best I could from the start and tried to work my way up. I was still a little sore from Saturday, but was moving up a little. Then came the sand. On 1 straight sandpit on Saturday, I did great; but this sand was rough, deep and involved numerous turns. At one point on the second lap I missed the groove through the sand as the course went around some trees. I figured out why I wore my superman hat today as I went flying over the bars. Ended up face first in the sand and sand in every nook and cranny of me and my bike. Sand in the shifters, gears, etc. It made the rest of the race a “grinding” experience.
Luckly, I only lost a few spots and was able to keep going. Still, I ended up 27th. Just the way it goes some days I guess. For some crazy reason, I ended up doing the SS race right after CX4. I was cooked, but in my mind, a few more laps seemed like the best thing to do to help my sore legs. The hills were tough on the SS: spin out going down and stand up and grind going up. But I handled the sand much better the second race….until I broke my derailler. I don’t have a dedicated SS, so I lock out my der and go with it. I had to work my way back to the pit to grab my other bike, but decided to finish anyway. Actually, I was able to pass a couple of guys on the last 2 laps and moved up to 18th. Our SS class only has about 25 or 30 guys most races. I think we had about 25 this race. The single speed is tough on my knees, so I think I will just do Masters and CX4 next time. I can’t keep up with the top guys in Masters, but I can’t keep with the top guys in SS anyway.
We have GA CX#7 next weekend, but I have some family stuff in the Carolinas for Thanksgiving. So, I’m trying to swing it where I can hit at least 1 day of the UCI race in Hendersonville, NC on the way. My wife will go with me so hopefully I can get her to take some pictures to put on here. I’ll yet ya’ll know how it goes. Later.
photo courtesy of @ecoPRchick
I was able to score myself an extra-long weekend this week and used it to eat diner food, drink beer and generally lie around trying to remember what regular, non-CX people do in their spare time. Needless to say, I rolled into Sierra Point with my mind and body elsewhere, but that wasn’t enough to make me skip the spectacle of the only night race on the calendar.
We started at dusk and fortunately everyone made it through the drag race to the first corner (unlike last year, where things got a little crazy). After that it was cruising, picking up spots where possible and making sure that you stayed upright. There were so many turns, washboard sections, barriers and run-ups that it was almost impossible to get a rhythm, not that I would have raced any better if I had been able to find one. I still had a great time, though. My “lost” weekend may have hurt the fitness a bit, but I think it will probably help preserve sanity in the long run. I also ran into my friend DB from San Diego, who was on a NorCal roadtrip and tried his hand in the Bs with me, and had a nice start-line chat with Paul (I hope that’s your name – apologies if I forgot) of Team BEER. Seeing old friends, making new ones and riding off your hangover…. gotta love cross!
As always, head over to the NCNCA Racing blog for more pics and videos of this weekend’s action. Next race is Cross Palace this weekend, at SF’s Cow Palace fairgrounds. Word is that we’ll be racing INSIDE the arena…
- Nick in SF
(say in dying-kinda voice) ”you go on..with out me…..” “save yourself”
Goodbye 2009 cross season. To the rest of you continuing to race, HTFU.
Did the SS race today. Any of you guys race ss only? Its nuts! If I find a pic, I’ll upload it.
I wanna talk about a guy that beat me. Dan Casper or “ghost” (casper-get it?). Anyways, I worked with Dan a long time ago. Back when I met my wife. In the mid-90′s, Back when I smoked. A lot. We worked with tuff kids. Hard kids. Jail-kinda kids. Dan was great with those kids.
Then I followed my love to Austin, TX. and somewhere in there, Dan got married. Now, I quit smoking and we both quit working with tuff kids and Dan is a mpls fire fighter.
Dan married Linda Sone. They met at the same school. Now she’s a fire fighter too. Anyways, Linda happens to be fast. Check it:
I’m proud of the two of them. I’m proud to know them better than most, or knew them better.
Cyclocross is like that. Its a big family of over-lapping-love.
So, tonight, and the end of my 2009 season, I drink to the love of cyclocross. or cycloross, depending….
Better luck next year
The old guys keep getting faster. I’ve one that state CX championships a couple of times, but I think those days are over. The fast guys are getting older and so am I. Today’s course was awesome and featured a ton of crossy stuff. I did a warm up lap on my griffos,but everyone was saying the rhinos were the ticket..so I switched and it was night and day. The rhinos on the off-camber were untouchable. 70 of us toed the line and the start was full-on crossy. I settled in top 10, but faded again to the 20s. The sand was my weakness today. I rode it well warming up, but during the race I couldn’t ride it consistently. I made a huge mistake mid-race. I was leading a group of about 7 riders and tried to ride the sand and went down and jammed a bunch of sand in my shifter and flatted. I went to the pit to grab my other bike but the group was gone. Oh well…there is always next year. I ended up 9th in 35+, 27th overall. What I find funny is some of the guys who race 1/2s all year on the road and the cross season, decide to ride 35+ for states. Stick to the category you ride and stay with it #HTFU brothers. I could race the 3s race but, that would be sand-bagging in my opinion since I chose to race 35+ on the road and for the full cross season. What do you all think of those that ride different cats for state championships?
Day 2 GP ZAC DAAB
The coach has been telling me to hold back at the starts. It’s hard to break old habits. I like to be in the top 10 at the starts, bonus if I’m top 3. But these old legs need to slow down to speed up I guess. When I was younger I could rock the starts and stay on it. Now when I rock the starts I blow after a couple mins. Today I rolled out easier and stayed top 20 and waited for the legs to come around and then hit it. I worked. I was able to claw my way back and get into the right group. 4th in 35s, 15th overall. 4th in omnium for the weekend and even made $90.
It doesn’t take too many mistakes to get left and be off the back but after my second problem with my chain I decided to enjoy myself and take in an awesome event. I don’t know what was more fun the riding or being at the stair run up with my teamates cheering on the Cat1/2′s. The beverages were flowing amongst firecrackers and bacon hand-ups. It doesn’t get much more fun… ErikP
Got sick earlier this week, thanks to some children and a doctor’s waiting room. Skipped the Saturday state championship race, but hoped to be well enough for today’s race. Although I felt better, pushing it on the bike was not happening. Nevertheless, it was good to get out. The course was sweet, the day was sunny if a bit frosty, and Ladric was amazing through the sandpit – seemed like he was through it in three bounds and put time into everyone else every lap and took the Masters win! Congratulations!
FURTHER PROOF THAT ITS NOT ME. AND SEVEN OTHER EXCUSES.
I came into this season in the best shape I’ve ever been. Then, somewhere along the way, that fitness disappeared. Call it life, call it crap, but my season has sucked. So, I was apprehensive about lining up for yesterday’s State Championship. I waited until the last minute to reg. and therefore was lined up in the back, where I essentially stayed until the end, when Taylor and I were two-against-one coming thru the sand pit. I beat everyone thru, remounted and found my pedal-but could not clip in. The guy beat both taylor and I to the line for an embarressing finish.
The course was sweet. Fast, just technical enough, and very interesting. Local HUP united and Curt Goodrich Factory Team have put together a fantastic race and I’m so glad I raced.
Today, I’m going back for more…but instead of the cat3′s, I’m racing the SS open. Again, I’m starting in the back. My goal here is to not get lapped. That will prove very difficult knowing fasties like Ezra and “Ghost” are also lining up.
Today, I’ll take the beer hand-up and coast a little into the off season.
Tomorrow, I’ll start the basement regiment for next spring.
ok.. probably not tomorrow..
skinnyski photo credit
Last day of Cross Crusade tomorrow at Barton Park. Click on the map below to see the day’s schedule. It’s typically one of the fastest, longest & deadliest courses of the series. It’s jokingly referred to as the Man-Eater especially after claiming two collarbones & a jaw last year.
Races that are left:
11/21, 29 & 12/19 Psycho Cross Series
11/22 Kruger’s CX
12/10-12/13 Cross Natz