Tuesday, November 25, 2003

BA Cyclocross 6 - 2003

The 2003 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 23rd, 2003

Another lovely day... partly cloudy and breezy... and about 60-65 degrees. It's been dry all week, so there will not be much mud.

I returned the 48/38 crank set I was running last weekend. Not because I didn't like the gearing, but because neither ring was running true. I've ordered an FSA 48/38 crank set to replace it... but it hasn't arrived yet. So I'm running the standard 53/39 up front.

CAUTION! Whine alert! I did not do as well as I wanted to in this race, so my comments may sound a bit whiny... it isn't my intent... I even waited a week to write this up, to avoid the really unnecessary whining that I was feeling.

The Course

We're at Boughton Farm this weekend. This will be the last course we visit, and it's nice that we get to run on it twice (Today and December 7th). It really is a farm!

We start near the barn, with a slight climb into the wind. Pass the greenhouse and make right through the finish area. We then start heading around the fields. The next turn heads up an incline (into the wind again) to the first barrier set. The back half of the field still has cabbages almost ready for harvest. The course heads downhill to the only mud section in the back corner.

After rounding the cabbages, it's into a wooded section. We wind around a bit to the log crossings. There are two 10-12 inch logs, about 10 yards apart. They are ridable except the course runs parallel to the first log and you need to make a right turn at the crossing. There is almost enough room to line yourself up, but you scrub a lot of speed doing it. log.

We then wind our way out of and back into the woods until we hit the gravel road. The winding has some up and downs, nothing very long, but I was changing gears a lot through here. It's then a short quick road section to complete the circuit of the first field. Then we take right and start the second field.

The second field starts with a more road section on a slight incline to the second barrier set. This section is run along a tree line, so the wind doesn't really play into this.

We then curl around to the only appreciable climb (which isn't all that much) before heading back across the field. This one is totally exposed to the cross winds. There are a couple of slight S turns to make it interesting, then we're back among the buildings.

We loop around and between the buildings until we make the right turn around the greenhouse. Here we were getting blasted by the wind and with the slight incline, it seemed one of the more challenging portions of the course. Even though it was only 20 yards or so.

The Pre-Race

I arrived at about 10:45 again... plenty of time to get ready. Good signage this time, so there was no chance of getting lost.

I got dressed and started my pre-rides... it's getting to be a ritual, which is nice. Around the cabbage field and into the woods, were I meet up with some of the Lake Effect riders... I try to get through the log section a few times. It seems it'll be ridable if I've got a clear trail in front of me... but I have to slow down a lot to make the turn and be set up correctly for the crossings.

While we're there, Rudy Sroka discusses removing one of the barrier sets... it's at the bottom of a short decent in a turn where you climb back up along the same hill, in one of the loops on the way back around the cabbage patch. It really does scrub a lot of momentum, and would have added the only probable run up. With it's removal, the course is considerably faster.

I think I ended up with 3 warm up laps, instead of my usual 4 to 5. I also felt a bit rushed to get enough to drink and eat before the start... It didn't seem to bug me much, except for a few Red Bull burps right after the start.

I'm racing cyclocross at the end of November in short sleeves and bare kneed! It's borderline doable, but since it's a race... I figure I won't get cold.

Before the start Chris Aron and Kevin Ward are talking about the course... really dry, with only one mud section. They talk about increasing tire pressure. Me and peer pressure. I pump up to 60psi.. from my normal 40-45. After the race, I wished I wouldn't have gone quite so far.

Because there are no run ups, and no lifting the bike, I put on a water bottle cage.... One thing I end up missing is a drink throughout the races. Since it won't be in the way, I might as well drink. I filled it about half way, hoping to have it empty at the end.

The Race

I started in the second row... next to Phil Hines, behind Bill Marut and Mike Gorman. So I'm in good company... and we're off.

Again I got a pretty good start. I was about fifth through the finish are and up the incline to the first barrier set. I figure that is about perfect. I can sit in for the start, and I'm far enough up to stay out of trouble when people get hung up though technical sections.

Around the cabbage patch, through the mud and into the woods... The first time over the logs, I know I'll be running. I make it through here, then start to think about recovery.

My typical race strategy, has been to go hard through the first half lap, then recover, and then take back any places I've relinquished and go for any more I can get. So I started letting people go. As they'd pass, I'd try to sit on when I could, but I wouldn't get crazy about letting them go. The last thing I want to do is blow up, and loose more places because I was trying to push to hard.

It was NOT easy to let some of these guys pass me. I ended up about 9th by the third lap. I wasn't panicking, but I was starting to pick up my pace a bit. I was comfortable, and was reeling in the next three riders. All of whom I figured I could easily pick off before the finish.

The first up the road was Kevin Ward. I'm bringing him back... and I'm bringing at least one guy along as we make the turn onto the crosswind section. I hadn't even thought of getting this guy to work, if he wants to come around, I'll sit in until I pick it up again.

As we come through the first S turn, he offers to pull... I'm all for it. so he comes around, and asks if I'm on... away we go... I can work with this. The guy is on a full suspension mountain bike, and he is going at a good pace.. I'm thinking we can easily pick up the next three guys now, and we'll sort out the rest on the last lap. We head through the buildings, and as we start to head to the greenhouse turn, I'm thinking about holding close to his wheel and tucking to avoid the wind blast there. He takes the turn a bit tight, and as I'm holding on, my wheels loose contact!

I wasn't down for long... in fact I don't think I was down at all. My right foot was out of the pedal, and I landed an my knee (on gravel, thank you very much), but popped right back up. The guy that was pulling, heard me go down, and hesitated, ready to wait for me... I just shouted "GO on!" I probably should have let him wait... but I wasn't sure how I'd be going now. He took off, and I started my solitary chase again.

OK, so my leg is covered in blood, but I'm not hurting too bad. I can still push the pedals ok... so I figure I've got a chance to still pick up some places. I'm sitting 10 or so now, with 3 laps to go. I figure I won't catch my pulling buddy, but I may still catch someone who's blown.

I was hoping for another top 5. The problem with goals like this is it's beyond my control. If a new guy or 2 shows up (like they have the past couple of weeks), you can end up at 7th, with the same performance. Or if someone has a great day, or the course setup fits someone better than it fits you.

So, as I'm working around the course, my thoughts were... I've got 21 points between me and the 6th place guy who is definitely up the road. I only need to finish, and I'll maintain my 5th place. Not that I was thinking of bailing, but I was trying not to panic and kill myself. Then my true form started to show... I got caught by another rider.

Again I tried to sit on, but I just didn't have the legs.... my finishing thought was comforting.... then I got caught by 2 more riders right before the last lap.. One guy on a single speed, and Julie Lewis from Lake Effect. I did alright around the cabbage patch, but they dropped me after the log crossing... I lost about 35 seconds in that half lap... and I was trying to push it hard!


I came across the line, and immediately squirted down my knee with the water bottle. Phil Hines was there and offered to grab his first aid kit. So I headed back to the van to wash up and bandage my knee... I was more pissed off at loosing places that I was sure I could get back than anything else. I totally acted the jerk to a couple of guys that I was chasing also.... oh well. How to win friends and influence people.

Here I was hoping to pick up 3 places and instead I lost 4 more. Realistically, I think I could have ended at 9th on my own, maybe 7th or 8th with help.... or I could have blown without the wreck, and ended up exactly where I was. 13 wasn't a bad placement. It's still middle of the pack. But it was my worst place to date... well, I'm hoping I can only do better from here.


This season is all about learning, despite my fixation on my current overall standings. I've learned a lot about what gearing to run, and race strategy. Where my strengths are and where I can use some work. I'm hoping to either run A's next year (and get creamed regularly) or do better (as in more consistent, thereby improving my overall standings) in the B's. A lot depends on how my training goes throughout the year.

So, Shoulds and should nots!

I should have talked less and pre-ridden more... more warm up, and practice on the log crossings would have been helpful. I ended up running the logs at all but one instance. I was either going through behind someone or in front of someone.... so it never seemed safe enough. I don't think I lost time there, but I may have been able to gain a little by riding instead of running.

And more time would have made my pre-race more comfortable... more time to hydrate and eat correctly. I'd like to be about done 30 minuted before the start.

I should NOT have pumped up my tires so much. I figure 50psi may have been about right... and it may have kept the tires attached to the ground around the greenhouse.

I should NOT have gone on the group ride on Saturday morning before this race. My experience is if I ride hard the day before an event, I don't have the top end power when I want it (Usually climbing). There weren't a lot of climbs, but I let the last two riders go on the short inclines after the logs.... and there were a number of them. Looking back, I probably lost the 7th through 10th places on those same inclines. I can do an easy solo ride, when the competition isn't there. Even though I said I'd go easy on Saturday, I still found myself pushing on the climbs (not crazy pushing, but still...), and jumping at the sprints. Pavlov would have been proud.

I'm trying not looking at these as excuses... just things to watch for if I want to do well in the future... they're all educational.

It turns out the guy I thought was in 6th, was in 7th. The 6th place rider was the first guy I would have caught before going down. ... I'm still in 5th place. I've conceded 8 points, but still have a 13 point lead. Unless something really crazy happens. I'll keep my 5th place.

The interesting thing is second third and fourth place are all separated by 9 points. So those guys will be gunning to sort it out on December 7th. I'm hoping to be up there close to see the fireworks. If they reverse the course direction... I may even have an advantage again.


Trying to hang on... the guy in front of me is in 7th on points, and finished 7th. They guy behind me was the first to catch me after the fall, and finished 10th.

Working together to make some places... for now. 2 turns later, I was bleeding. That's my pulling buddy, finished 8th.

Monday, November 17, 2003

BA Cyclocross 5 - 2003

The 2003 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 16th, 2003

I'm loving this cyclocross stuff! My new crank set arrived, so I'll be running the 48/38 up front. I had a bit of trouble setting it up, because the 48 ring is not running true. I took it into the shop and the wrench straightened it up enough to run it... I'll see about sending it back after the race.

Another lovely day... cloudy threatening rain... and about 40 degrees. It's been dry most of the week, except fo Saturday night... when it wasn't.

The Course

We're at "The Fields" in Broadview Heights again. This time we're running the course backwards. So instead of bombing down the sledding hill, we'll be riding up it. They also took out the road section, since we'd be going down that... and replaced it with more dirt/grass downhill section before another field traversal. They also took out the gully crossings. This was replaced with a slight upgrade through the woods.

Last week's course was about 1.8 miles, this one ended up to be a bit closer to 2 miles.

The Pre-Race

I arrived at about 10:45 this time... plenty of time to get ready. I chatted a bit with Bill Marut about the course layout, got dressed and headed out for the reconnaissance.

More barriers... right after the finish line is a set of barriers. Then we head into the woods. The Saturday night rain has left the woods a bit slick. We hit the log pile that was ridable last weekend, and I decide to carry it through the race. I probably could ride it 50% of the time, but why take the chance.

The new section in the woods, is really wet also. The best practice is to stay seated in a medium gear for a light spin, to keep the rear wheel connected. Coming out of the woods, the trail dries out, and it's OK until the first turn around the soccer field.... where the mud pit is.

Between the soccer fields, they adjusted the big log crossing, so there was no ridable section. The log is about 2.5 to 3 feet in diameter... so it's a carry and hop.

After the last soccer field, we head to the first decent. This is a twisty, bumpy section that turns as you exit it. I tried to carry some speed through here on the warm up, and immediately washed out... again no damage, but a warning watch this section at race speeds.

Around the field, and head to the sledding hill. We approach the hill almost opposite to the direction of travel, so we have to make a turn of about 280+ degrees. There's plenty of setup room, and you can see it coming, so I tried to accelerate to get enough momentum to ride the hill. I could only make it about 80% up before stalling. So my strategy is to ride half way up, dismount and run it.

We cross the parking lot and around the baseball fields again, then hit another set of barriers before reentering the parking lot. We then drop down the ravine gravel path, across the bridge and back up the other side. The pitch of the hills are different than last week (because we're going backwards), and the turn at the bottom is sharper, so I feel we won't be able to carry as much speed through this section either.

Once we climb out of the ravine, we twist our way back across the finish line.

Most of my feelings here is they've removed all the advantage points I had from last weekend. Almost no descending... and though my climbing may still help, but it'll be harder to make up gaps.

My strategy for this week is to get a great start... settle in, and see if I can reel the leaders back in. I'm back to hydrating, running another warm up and eating some. Again a bottle of accelerade, a gel, and a red bull. Then more water.

15 minutes before the start, Rick shows up and is signing in. He asks me if he will hurl racing B's on his single speed. My reply is I'll probably hurl racing B's also, but he's not allowed to race C. I didn't have to point out that Don started in the B race....

Just about enough time to head to the line...

The Race

We're actually starting at the same place as last week. So we'll climb the road hill, turn left and head through the finish line. I get a good position at the front of the group. I've finished well, I've been to all the races, and none of the "favorites" are hidden in the group, so I'm feel like I deserve to be there.

The start is a bit funny, the starter did a count down, but slowed his pace as he went from 3...2.......1..........go. Some of the guy's actually got a 5 to 6 foot lead, then slowed and had to reaccelerate.

So, we're off. I got going pretty well, and half way through the climb am in a good spot behind Bill Marut. He pulled his foot out of the pedal and I swing around him. Phil Hines is still in front of me as we make the turn toward the finish line. But he starts to head the wrong way! I called to him and I'm the first one through the line and into the first set of barriers! This is exactly what I wanted... I got the hole shot!

I wasn't slowed by others through the barriers, so I let another guy go in front into the woods. The last 3 races, this guy has gone out REALLY hard, leading the race for a lap... then blows up and ends up somewhere really far down.

I'm second into the woods, so I figure the only people that'll pass me now, won't be slowing me down later. As I slog up the slight mud hill, another guy goes by. Through the hairpin turn I let a third go... As I come out of the woods, I'm at about 6th place. The leaders are opening up a big gap, but I'm on the rivet from my start. So, I start to settle in.

A couple more pass me, so I'm around 8th heading into the last soccer field. Through the decent and around the field. A girl on a mountain bike passes me at the base of the sledding hill. I chided myself not to let the testosterone kick in while asking who could this possibly be. Then I realize it's Tiffiny Kenny. I'm OK with a female pro passing me... She rides the sledding hill, while I do my dismount. I catch and pass her on the hill (running) and she passes me again at the top.

I'm feeling a bit recovered, so I start pushing the pace a bit. I'm sitting about 9th. Tiffany is ahead of another guy, as they both cut the course a bit. Nothing huge... but it was mentioned at the start. I caught the guy and mentioned it. Since the cut went through a sand pit, he's fine with not cutting it again. Tiffany is still up the road a bit.

Through the second set of barriers, and into the gravel decent. At the bottom of the decent I again pass Phil Hines! Turns out he took the decent too fast and wrecked on the bridge. As I pass him, I said we can't have a repeat of last week, let's go! My intention was to pull him back up and maybe get some help myself. He's still recovering fro the crash though and can't keep up. I think I passed the guy that blows up here also.

So I'm at about 7th at the end of the first lap. and am feeling pretty comfortable. There is a pretty good gap behind me, and I'm hold Tiffany Kenny in site. Through the woods, around the soccer fields and back through the decent. I work on reeling her back in. At the sledding hill, I caught her, and passed her again. I mentioned the course cut, just to let her know. She follows me through, and I think I gaped her at the barrier set.

Second lap, 6th place. Next person up the road is Kevin Ward. I pulled in close to him at the woods, and watched him ride the log pile. It wasn't smooth and certainly slowed him down... so I was rather happy to be carrying at that section. I continues to chase. It took me through the soccer fields and I caught him before the decent. Again I was looking for help, and I knew Chris was next up the road. So I said "Let's go catch Chris" as I came around. I hoped he would hop on, but before I hit the decent I had another large gap. So... I'm off on my own.

Last weeks race gave me confidence that I could catch Chris... so I started working on closing the gap. As I was finishing the third lap, I saw Rick starting the decent, and shouted a word of encouragement... I then checked the clock as I went through the line... 30 minutes! Already??? OK, let's catch Chris... trouble was, Chris saw me coming!

For the rest of the race, I tried to close that gap. I'd gain some, usually on the run up the sledding hill, but at the top I had to recover to turn the pedals... ugh. I had talked to Chris at the starting line, and knew he could ride the hill with his mountain bike, but because of the angle, I didn't know if he was. Behind me, I could see Tiffany and Kevin battling it out. They were pretty far back, and not gaining, so I could concentrate on catching Chris.

Four laps at 40 minutes... OK, 2 laps to go. Fifth lap at 50 minutes and the bell! The gap is NOT closing... but this is the last lap... maybe I've got enough....

I start closing on Rick at the end of the soccer fields. Chris has already caught and passed him, and he sees me coming up. I hear him cheering Chris on... then, as we head to the sledding hill, he starts hollering for me to catch up... Last time up the hill, and Chris still has that gap. I catch Rick before the last barrier set, and come around. As I head down the gravel decent, I realize my only hope of catching him this week is if he has a huge failure... mechanical or crash... up the ravine, and over the line.


After the line, Chris is there... a quick congrats and a bit of chatting. He was running from me the whole time. He said last week he wasn't sure what I could do. When I attacked he had nothing left. So this week, he didn't want me to catch him. Kevin said he put everything into trying to stay away. When I caught him, he crumbled... so he couldn't help out. He did manage to hang with Tiffany and come around her for 6th place.

So... 5th place with 6 laps in 1:00:48. I was 3 minutes off the leader, a professional duathlete... in his first off road race, on a borrowed bike with borrowed shoes. I was 2.5 minutes off the guys I've been racing. Chris managed to stay 40 seconds up...

At the end of the race, I stopped and asked Phil Hines what happened on the first lap. He told me about the crash and then made a comment about the mucky course... Belgian Concrete! I cleaned the bike Monday night... what a mess. The Israelites made bricks in Egypt with mud and straw, and the mud and grass combination I had all over the bike worked pretty much the same way.

Tips for riding wet mud:

Try to hold a straight line and power through the section. Even if you are traveling at speed, pedaling through helps maintain your momentum. Otherwise, you may stall.

There were 2 mucky sections on corners... it sucked the life out of my bike every time. I approached with the inside foot unclipped in a low gear. As the bike started to slide out, I could dab and catch it. Then attempt to pedal through the section. I pretty much let the bike choose it's own path through, and some of those were pretty bad.

Time ATAC pedals may be the best mountain bike pedals around because of the mud clearing ability... but 'cross is a different beast. The constant on and off the bike has jammed my pedals with mud in 4 of the 6 races I've done. I thought egg-beaters may have performed better, but Phil Hines says no. He was having the same types of problems clicking into his set. It has to be the mud caking the cleat... I kept trying to click in while kicking the mud off my shoes. I'd eventually get it, but only after a few tries. I'm not sure what to do about that... maybe spray some PAM on the soles of my shoes!??!


Overall my goal for the race was a top 5. So I was right there. I was pretty pleased with the race... except I'd like to not loose so many places after the start. I'm not sure how to do that, besides ride harder... and risk blowing up before the end.

Rick also had a good first race. 22 place 5 laps in 1:01:07 on his Bianchi S.I.S.S. and I don't think he hurled, though I'm sure he felt it. Must be nice to have a hot tub. Turns out he rode both the log pile in the woods (I expected that) and he rode the 3 foot log between the soccer fields... I did NOT expect that. He was probably the only one riding that thing!

It turns out I'm still sitting in 5th on overall points, even with my past 2 finishes... I've just solidified my position. I'm 21 points behind 4th and 21 points clear of 6th. Solid finishes in the next 2 races will guarantee I finish here. My only hope of moving up is a no show. I think if I would have put the double chain ring on earlier in the series, I may have been in contention for 4th place. I'm one of only 4 guys that have been to all the races, and the other 3 are the top 3 places in points.

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Monday, November 10, 2003

BA Cyclocross 4 - 2003

The 2003 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 9th, 2003

New venue and new people to race with. Don Frey got his new Independent Fabrications cross bike and is planning on his first cross race. A couple of his work friends are coming out also... the more the merrier.

I've been doing some work on the bike for this race. I changed out the V-brakes for a set of Avid Shorty 6 canti's and I've added a double chain ring. I ordered a Ritchey crank with a 48-38, but it hasn't arrived yet. So I'm running a straight 53-39 on the front. I did some test riding during the week, and everything is running smooth.

The day is nice. It's sunny and dry and about 50 degrees. As usual, I've brought every piece of clothing I own... gotta love this "winter" riding.

The Course

The course is at "The Fields" in Broadview Heights. It's just down the road from Bike Authority, the sponsoring shop.

It's an interesting course. Lot's of terrain and different surfaces. We start on a paved climb, go around a soccer Field and across a gravel parking lot. The first barrier is a large log at the edge of the lot. There is one ridable location on the log. On my first warm up lap, I tried it, hooked my rear wheel and went down. No damage, just a warning to watch my technique here.

After the log, there is a switchback, and we go around and through another set of soccer fields. Then we head into a walking path through the woods. Most of this is ridable, there are two gully crossings that are not. Both are steep on both sides. The first one has a small ridable log in front of it, the second has a pair of log piles before it. After the second gully, there's a short climb to another log pile that is ridable, before some twisty single track type stuff leads you out of the woods and back into the fields.

After twisting to the finish line, the course continues to twist to a fast, short gravel decent into a ravine. At the bottom we take a left, cross a bridge, and climb up the other side of the ravine. At the top, we crossed a larger gravel parking lot, and then start a circuit around the baseball fields. This is a mix of grass and gravel that leads us back to the gravel parking lot. On the other side of the lot is a wicked fast sledding hill that leads back to the start line.

The Pre-Race

Ah... prep time. I'm trying to figure out how to warm up effectively to be ready when the race starts. Don and I caravaned to the course, and arrived real close to 11:00 for a 12:00 start. I've been drinking lots of water since Saturday evening, and continue trying to hydrate effectively. I've got my water bottle, Accelerade bottle and a Red Bull as well as a PowerBar and a gel for my pre-race fuel.

I get dressed quickly and take off for my first pre-lap. Easy pace, just checking out the course here... After NOT clearing the first log, I try to ride the gullies. Not going to be successful doing that. Then I try to ride the last log barrier and make that. OK, we're getting somewhere now. I like having the 39 chain ring (as opposed to the 42 I've been running) especially on the gravel and road climbs. I'm still on the 27, but they're comfortable climbs.

After the first lap, Don and his friends are ready to go, so we head out for my second lap. I lead the way, and complete another moderate pass.

I'm slowly picking up the pace with each warm up lap. Between laps, I'm adjusting my clothing and drinking... and drinking. I'm not going to carry anything for the race except a gel... just in case. Almost start time, I took another swig and headed for the line.

The Race

Again there are lots of people here. There are almost 30 B racers this week and the line is crowded. I got into a nice space in the second row behind the REALLY fast guys. I'm just hoping to push the first lap, get into a rhythm, and then push the end.

We start with the climb, so the usual fast start is now fast and hard. I take off and just try to follow wheels. I've raced with a lot of these guys before, so I'm trying to pick wheels of guys that finished around me in the past.

First lap is usually mayhem, there are lots of people going over the barriers and through the technical stuff, so I'm going to dismount at everything. This is why a good start is so crucial. By the time we passed through the woods and start the second climb, I'm in 12th (or so) place. I feel fine, so I start to push around people as I find the chance.

At the sledding hill, I find a huge advantage. I LOVE to take that hill all out. I've got a good line that deposits me with some speed at the base of the first climb, so I use that on every lap. The first lap is a bit nervy, because I passed 2 riders on the decent.

So, I've got a pattern setup. Slowly work my way up to the next rider. Sit on for a bit, to recover and see how I'm doing, then push past and start again. I think I was in about 8th place, when I realized I was pulling a line of about 4 riders up to Kevin Ward. Kevin has beat me in the 2 races he's been at. So, I'm feeling pretty well. I sit on his wheel as we make our way around the last soccer field. Shortly before we hit the woods, he says I can come around whenever I want. I was fine where I was, until we made the turn into the woods. There was one spot where I had space to pass right after that turn. Which turned out to be really effective. I passed him, and was able to ride away through the woods. I think the guys that I towed along, then had to sit behind Kevin until he was out of the woods.

After passing Kevin, I see Phil Hines running his bike through the single track. Phil has finished second in 2 of the 3 races. He would have finished second in the third, but the Bill Marut broke his chain, so Phil won it. I'm thinking Phil has mechanical problems, because I should NOT be able to catch him.

After the woods, he gets back on the bike and rides on. I figure, I'll just keep riding. I start slowly reeling him in. At the top of the start climb, I catch him and I suggest we work together, and go after the next guy up the road. So I pull to the log barrier, and I let Phil come around to pull through the soccer fields. Then I realize he is not having his best day. After a very short pull, I come around again, and just ride. Phil stays with me, and even does another pull into the woods. But after the first gully, he runs the bike, instead of riding it. I passed him there and then rode away.

All this time, Phil and I were chasing a guy on a mountain bike. I thought I knew who it was, but when I saw it was Chris Aron, I was even more surprised. Chris has been finishing top 5 (4,3,5) in the races, and I'm closing in!

Phil was still right behind me when I rode over the last log pile. As I started it, I noticed the top log had moved, so my move would have to change. That was enough of a distraction and I went down. I think I was more worried about Phil passing me, but I'm pretty sure he was still running. I got back up hopped on and finished a very messy ride out of the woods. I was all over the trail... and nothing like smooth. I was only thinking of the advice "If you can't clear them every time, carry your bike. You loose more time falling once than all the time you make up riding the barriers." I got up quickly, so I hoped that wasn't true.

Phil caught back on over the grass and ravine areas and was saying something about not liking the woods section. I was back to a smooth ride and as we came up to the sledding hill, I pushed it. Hmm... I guess you could say I attacked! That was the last I saw of Phil, and Chris was only about half way up the start hill. I followed Chris, slowly closing in on him. I caught him somewhere around the woods.

As we came out, they were ringing the bell... last lap. OK, Now I'm going to put everything into finishing strong. I pretty much sat on Chris's wheel as we rode through the ravine and up the gravel climb. I'm happy to see I'm still hanging in. I've been looking up the road, and haven't seen anyone in a while. So I have no idea how far back we are. I just figured Chris and Phil are having a hard time with this course.

So, as we approached the sledding hill, I attacked again. I put everything into this one, because there was only a half lap to go, and I know Chris is really fast. As I crested the hill, and saw I had a gap. So I pushed again. I just wanted to hold him off to the finish, but wasn't sure I could. I pushed it hard, and looked for him at the switch back. At that point I started to think I could make it. As I went into the woods, I knew I had enough of a gap... as long as I didn't make any big mistakes. So I finished strong, but conservative. I carried all the barriers, even the one I'd ridden. Then pushed it to the end.


As I came through the line I saw Brett Davis had finished, so I pulled over and asked how he did. He was 3rd.

Chris came through 30 seconds behind and stopped. Nice battle, nice finish. I had no idea where I was placement wise, but Chris thought I was 4th and he was 5th! Which would mean he was were he should be, and I had a superb day!

Final was 4th place, 7 laps in 58:06! I'm still 1:20 off the winning pace, and 1:08 off third place, but this is a huge result for me. At first I thought it was due to my single track skills, which may have helped. Being able to ride the 2 log barriers had to save me some time and it certainly got me in front of Phil Hines (6 th). But I really think it was my gearing which helped me use my climbing that made the difference. There was enough climbing to make the 39 chain ring a necessity. I'm also sure my all out descending helped a lot too.


Don had a good race. He finished 25th out of 32 riders and 29 males. 6 laps in 1:07:15. A good finish for his first cross experience on a bike he hasn't ridden before and still needs loads of setup work.

After about 3 laps, I heard Rick Adams cheering me on... he was cheering for Chris also, and I kept surprising him as I closed the gap to Chris. Rick took some pics of the race.... so here's the list.

Thanks for the pics, Rick.

More pics available at photreflect