Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Fall Challenge 2003

I've been hearing about this road race in Peninsula for the last month (it was actually Cuyahoga Falls I guess), but wrote it off since I was doing the 'cross race on Saturday. Then last weekend, one of the guys (Phil) I ride with on the weekend (yes, I've become a roadie with a mountain bike) says I should do it... it starts at 9:00 and we could behome by 12:00. It's a 40 mile race with some hills. So I clear it at home and decide to do it.

I have no idea how I'm going to do on the race. On the weekend rides, I'm one of the first guys up the hills, and I hang out on the front for the whole day. I'll pull a group, or get in a pace line and work... it doesn't matter to me. So the real question is how will I respond after beating myself up on the cross bike. I've done this before at the Raccoon Rally, and I was not that great on the MTB race on day 2.

There are about 50 or 60 riders in the B group. I know about 5-10 from the weekend rides and Tuesday night races. B race is Cat 4/5/Cit, so I have no delusions of actually being on the podium. At the line, they add the 5 women and 1 junior, and reduce the race to 4 laps around the 8.3 mile course. I felt good riding around, warming up. So I'm confident of finishing well for myself.

The course has a 6 mile section of downslope, followed by a steep (not terrible) short climb, and a longer upgrade. So the first lap, I'm in the group until the short climb, where I start loosing places like crazy! I was not ready for that! My legs felt a little tired, but I should have climbed that faster. Let's hear it for diaries, because I responded almost exactly the same in the Racoon Raly MTB race.

It turns out the field split at the climb, and I was on the front of the carnage! Chasing like crazy to get back on. I felt someone on my wheel and look back to see the "leader" of the weekend rides. He's giving me encouragement, but I'm dying, so I ask him to pull a bit, and we start a rotation. What's really bad about this is the guy doesn't climb well at all... he's a straight sprinter (and a good one) but he caught me, which should NOT have happened.... I write this off to the cross race. After a few rotations, he's done, and I'm on my own again.

I picked up the junior and we start working together. We're still in sight of the group, and we pickup a third guy who popped off. I think this guy was our downfall. For the second lap the 3 of us (or 2 and a half) work like crazy to catch back on. I knew if we didn't catch the group by the second time up the hill, we wouldn't see them again. So I'm really pulling to try to bring it back. Nothing! Every time I see the group, they're further ahead. Then the second time up the hill, one of the guys says there are riders coming up behind us.I'm both thankful for the potnential help and pissed that we couldn't stay away.

Another guy I know (Phil, a pretty strong climber) comes up with 3 of the women riders. Now we've got 7, and we start a rotating pace line... to try to catch back on. The problem here is the women are still racing for place. There is only 1 woman up the road... the guys are racing for nothing...as we are probably looking at placings in the30+ range. So we've really got 3 1/2 guys and the women doing work, but still saving themselves.

So 2 laps to go, and some help... we share the work with me and the other guy I know doing most of it. I'm the fastest decender, but no one would get on my wheel to follow me down. Both times up the hill, I died... and then had to chase back to the group... as did the Junior, only he had more ground to make up.

On the last lap, I told Phil, I was going to bury myself, as this was only a training ride. So I pulled like crazy. I lost the group on the hill again, and caught back on. The junior never made it back this time.

As we were coming up to the line. I verified with one of the women that they were still in contention, then told the other two guys to let them go and stay out of the way. They pulled until about 500m from the line when two of the ladies jumped on it. The third tried to go, but didn't have enough left.

Then the guy that was only doing 1/2 work left... and I got pissed. I bridged up to him, but didn't have anything left after that.... so Iguess I did bury myself pretty well.

I finished, and didn't get lapped by the A race. We were probably 5 minutes down on the main group (based on conditions of the guys still at the finish). I heard that one group did try to go up the road, but didn't make it, so it stayed together for the sprint, and one of the guys I know took 3rd. There were only about 3 or 4 guys that came across behind us... everyone else bailed. Including the guy that helped me up the first climb. I think he only did 1 lap and packed it up.

I was pretty disappointed in my Sunday race... I should have been in the group. Maybe if I hadn't ridden to and from the race on Saturday... who knows. After driving home, I could hardly walk. Though the more I move the better I feel. I ended up with 2 naps after the race.

Cross on the Lake 2003

Saturday, cyclocross day.

Don and I rode down to course at 55th and south marginal. I figured it would be a good warm up for the race. We got there as they were finishing up the setup.

My race start is 9:00, we got there a littlebefore 8:00, so I had time to set the bike up, and pre-ride a bit. The course is really short. I think it was only 3/4 of a mile. There was a 100yd straight at the start, to spread the field out a little before the course, then everything else was twisty stuff. Most of the riding was over reasonably smooth grass. There were 2 "paved" sections, and one set of stairs.

It's pretty tough to explain the course with out pictures. So I've attached a sketch (sorry, Don it was fast and dirty). The circles represent an terraced amphitheater. The lower section was through a paved pit in front of a stage. The parallel lines on the right are 2 sets of barriers, that we dismounted and ran over. The first set you could lift the bike over. The second set, I was shouldering the bike, and then running up the stairs. At the top of the stairs was a paved walk. You then dropped down and up the theater terrace twice, before climbing out of the theater to a really narrow downhill chute that looked like a short section of an overused DH course. The hill that we went up was probably a 50 foot rise. Similar in length to the lower Euclid Creek hill at Highland and Euclid. Only the climb up the side ofthe theater wasn't quite as steep.

When I pre-rode the course, I found there was almost no recovery time. You always have something new coming up.... and the course was hard to get around at some semblance of speed. And though it wasn't classic 'cross weather. 65 and sunny was OK by me for my first taste of cyclocross.

They started the 30 minute citizen/cat5 race, the women and the junior race all at 9:00. The cat 3/4 was 45 minutes at 9:30, and the 1/2 race was an hour starting at 10:30. I got to the line, and found I was the only cat 5. There were 2 women and 1 junior. So I pulled out, and raced the cat 3/4. Which was nice, because I got to watch a race before I actually did one.

The Cat 3/4 race had 11 starters and one cat 1 guy racing for fun on asingle speed fixed gear. So at the gun, I figure I'll try to hang with the group as best as I can, and I do until we hit the top of the stairs. The path there was the only time I could try and recover, so I backed off a little and watched the first 3 guys go off. I'm still in 5th, so I don't feel to bad. I've just got to hang on for 45 minutes...

Here is how it the race works. They time each lap, then average the first few lap times of the leader. They then calculate how many laps make up 45 minutes, and from there on they let it be a lap race. So after 3 laps, they tell you how many laps until the finish, rather then shouting out time remaining every time someone passes the start/finish line.

The barriers and stairs are wild! Pick the bike up, hop, run, hop put the bike down and jump back on. It doesn't take long before I'm dropping the bike... and it bounces around making it really hard to get back on. So I start concentrating on setting it down.

After 4 laps (or so), I see a 6 and figure I've got 6 laps to go. I'm pretty much redline through the whole race... but figure it's only 45 minutes, so let's go! I've been passed by a few more people, but I know there is at least 1 guy behind me. Since the course twists back on itself so much, you can easily see where you are on the field... the only problem is the A race guys are all doing their pre-rides, so I couldn't tell where I was REALLY. I saw the gap on the one guy I knew I was in front of getting wider at one of the stair sections, the next thing I know, he's going by me, I mean within a minute or two. It turns out I've just been lapped by the guys teammate.

On lap 9 I'm one lap down on the leaders. I come by the start/finish, and see the 1 and figure I've got 2 laps to go, so I ask as I go by... no one answers, but everyone looks at the lap counter... then I see the second 1 and spend half of that lap figuring out there are 10 more laps to go. At this point I realize, I can't finish if I stay redlined for 10 more laps! and start to really back it down and just try to survive. Don is handing me my water bottle about every other lap. On lap 11 or 12, I ask him to pass me up a gu... I feel pretty good, but I get lapped again! So now I'm 2 laps down, and figure I may or may not be in last place of my race. Whatever, I'm going all out still, I'll do my best to finish strong and maybe I'll catch someone...

With 2 laps to go, a guy passes me... and I don't know if he's lapping me or just stealing a place. I do know he's in my race though. I think I should have tried to fight him off though... but I didn't have much left in me.

On the last lap, I'm not 100% sure if I'm done or not. I wish I knew, because I would have buried myself instead of thinking I had to conserve to do 2 or 3 more laps (I may have been 3 laps down by then). So... it turns out I got 8th out of 12 starters. The leaders did 20 laps, I did 17 or 18. The third place rider was also at least 1 lap down. I was 20 seconds from lapping the 10th place rider, and 40 seconds from the 9th place. There was 1 DNF that happened in front of me... from the looks of his injury, I would have continued on... but I don't know how much the inside hurt.

I raced about 10 miles, and I finished in 54 minutes and some change. I feel pretty good about it for a first timer. There is a 7 race series put on by Bike Authority in the area. My goal is to do 5... we'll see how the schedule works out.