Tuesday, November 30, 2004

BA Cyclocross 6 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 28th, 2004

Last race of the season. When I saw the race schedule, I was disappointed that there were only 6 races instead of 7 like last year. However, with one race every week for 6 weeks straight, I guess 6 is just right.

The weather decided to break this week... cold and snow on Thanksgiving, not much better on Friday. I ended up on the trainer on Thursday, and did a cold weather ride on Friday. Saturday, the day was beautiful and above 50, so I did another hour... just to keep my sanity. I tried to go easy on Saturday, to save it for Sunday.

The forecast called for cloudy and 49... It was 35 when we left the house. I've got the kids, and it looks like 2 will be in the C race. My wife is cooking and getting ready to have my mother-in-laws birthday party, so we have to be back and cleaned up by 4:00. My job is to keep the kids away, so Peg can get her stuff done. We left the house and arrived at 10:30. Plenty of time to get the three of us ready, run a prelap with the kids, and then get in a decent warm up.

I met Rick on the road, and we made our way to Boughton Farm. Same location as race 6 and 7 of last years series. One was 65 and sunny, the other was a snow covered, cold and cloudy race. Today looked like a it would be somewhere in between, but closer to the cold day.

As we pull into the farm, my wife calls... a bit panicked. She found one of my bike shoes in the car, and was sure I had only taken one with me. She even offered to bring it down to me. Fortunately for both of us, it was a spare shoe, the match was at the shop getting fixed. It's the thought that counts though, Peg gets points for offering. Now I'm even further in debt.

The Course

This course is at Boughton Farm. It's a real working farm, the course traverses the tractor roads around the crop fields, and hits some wooded sections between the fields. Pretty flat with some minor terrain to keep it interesting.

We sign up in the greenhouse, and they build a fire to keep the scorers warm. They need it to, because it's not getting much over 40, if at all. The Finish is at the fire, we follow the gravel road around the greenhouse and between the barns and head down a fast, flat sandy road between two fields. At the end, we hit a 90 degree right hander that is a bit slick, and leads us into a short eroded section. Climb a little, then do a grassy S and get to the next field section. This one is grassy, with a slight rise to sap the legs, then it descends to the barrier set. Over the barriers and run the 180 degree climbing right hander. We follow this level about half way back, then hit a 180 degree climbing left hander. This one is ridable, but you're almost stalled when you get to the top. Back to just past the first turn, and we hit a descent back down to the barrier level.

It seems this is a low point of the farm, since it's pretty wet here. We then climb to the first wooded section. It's pretty tight, not very technical, but there is one tree that makes the trail do a tight left/right to get by. Back out into the field that heads to the second wooded section. This one takes you through a tree... or two trees with about a tire width between them, then loops up, out of the woods, a 10 yard section along the woods, before you take a 180 back in. Twist around, and hit the lower field again.

More grass, to the far edge of the farm, the trail goes through a wide open, lightly wooded section. Twisting a little, and leading back onto the tractor road. This is a false flat that runs about a quarter of a mile back to the finish. There are some ruts running across the road and some along the edge. There are also some big holes filled with water. If you twist just right, you can get through without getting wet.

The course is about 1.6 miles long... one set of barriers, and an almost insignificant run up. The hardest thing about this course will be the wind (same as last year) and the cold.

The Pre-Race

The kids and I suit up. I've got each of them in a PI Kodiak, so we don't have to make a mess of their winter jackets. I've also dumped my extra full finger gloves, and helmet caps on them to keep them warm. I'm running knickers again, and I oiled my legs. On top I start with 2 base layers, one short sleeve and one long sleeve, and arm warmers, and a skull cap.

First pre-lap with the kids, and it's going OK. My daughter is fine. My son doesn't like the bumpy parts. Luci made me proud when she carried her bike through the barriers... one hand on the bar, the other on the top tube! What a natural 'crosser! All the more impressive considering her bike weighs about 30 pounds. We eventually make it around. Luci is racing for sure, Vitor is tentative. I'll do my warm ups while he decides.

I end up getting in 2 and a half laps. It's cold, but I think I'll be warm enough once we start racing. I shed the long sleeve base layer, and the skull cap. Now I've got to keep moving to stay warm.

Vitor decides to race, so I sign him in, and give them instructions. Main rule is stay out of the way of faster racers. Get out of the way when someone goes to pass you. Matt from Spin (the guy helped me out in race 3) was talking about bringing his 9 year old next year. That'll come back later today.

The B Race

We lined up about 200 meters before the finish... a little uphill to spread it out. As they're getting ready to start, I look around and Brian and Rick aren't on the line. I know they're here... I'm thinking about Delgado missing his time trial start time at '89 tour! Brian is my only points competitor. He has to be on the line. They end up holding up the start for a minute, while Rick and Brian finish their warm up. I'm next to Derrick again, Matt from Spin. Then we're off.

Remind me to line up to the left of Derrick next time. Three times I've been on his right, and twice he's steered right into me. A little pinch, but not bad. Phil Hines is on the front, then Matt and Derrick, then myself, Brian and maybe this guy on a mountain bike. Past the finish, and into the field. Phil told me he planned on dropping the hammer in the field, but he's just coming off a cold. I feel like the pace is dropping, so I do the only smart thing. Pull into the center of the tractor road, and GO HARD!

I hit a deep puddle as I came past Matt, THAT woke me up. Well, I'm wet now, so I need to go hard to warm up. So I get to the front and push the pace. I'm not sure how much damage is being done... but I hit the barriers first, up the run up and lead it through most of the first lap. I get some gap, but they close it down. When we hit the false flat straight, I ease up and let someone else pull for a bit.

A minor gap opens up as we come through the start finish, but I close it down again on the field straight. John Lorson and Matt lead heading to the barriers. John is on a single speed though, so his speed is all over the place. I come around him and pass Matt through the barriers and up the run up. I'm leading again and pressuring. I get a good gap, and I wonder if I can hold this for the duration. Then the guy on the Mountain bike bridges up and just sits on my wheel... interesting move.

The chase group, including Brian and Matt, make it back up to us as we finish up the second lap. Matt is leading it after the barriers and switchbacks. We open a small gap on the group. I'm on his wheel in the wooded section, when his shoulder clips the tree, and I t-bone him as he tries to recover. Not real hard, but enough to rattle him. We probably only lost a few seconds. Then he bobbles again in the next wooded section, and I hit him again. I tell myself I won't follow him through the single track again. A little push and I'm in front again.

The C race starts about 2 minutes after the B race. My kids are the back markers for the race, so I know how their race is going when I pass them. First time past, and Luci has about 100 meters on Vitor. Pretty much as I expected.

Remember, I'm not very aware of what's happening behind me. I can tell when I get gaps, but I don't always know who I'm towing along. Seems to me, that every time I'm in a group, Brian is right there. Every time I get a gap, usually at the barrier, Brian claws his way back up to me. My problem seems to be that false flat straight to the finish line. This time I'm looking for the right lines, and I find a reasonable one about the fourth lap.

Some where in the fourth lap Brian puts in a nice attack... and I go from aggressor to defender. I'm not panicking, I just went into defense mode. If I finish in the top 4, I've got the series wrapped up. I don't need to win, only finish in top 4 if Brian wins. If he doesn't, top 5 will do. So I start to ride defensively. I'm trying to conserve, and I'll chase in the last lap or two.

About a half lap later, the guy on the MTB has caught me, and starts working to bring back Brian. For some reason, I can't or don't let him tow me up to him. So now I'm third.

Second time past the kids on the fourth lap, and she's doubled the gap to Vitor. I look at my HRM, and see 27 minutes, and start to worry about her having to do another lap. So I tell her she may have to do one more. She's not happy about that.

As I come through the line, Matt is on my wheel. I don't know how he caught me. I see that the C race is finishing up, and I ask the scorers to tell my kids when they are done. I then told Matt that was one down side of bringing your kids to the race. Then I told myself to stop worrying about the kids and start racing! I push the field again, and loose Matt. I really want third place. Phil Hines is not far behind in fourth and John Lorson is also close in fifth. If Brian wins, I need fourth to protect the overall.

As I come through the barriers, I see Vitor is ahead of Luci on the finishing straight! I have no idea how that happened. Whatever, I'll figure it out later. I can now race without worrying about them. I've opened a nice gap to Matt, I can't see Phil or John anymore, but I'm not really bringing Brian and the MTB back. Brian is doing all the work as the MTB just follows. Lap 5, 6... no change. They aren't far ahead, but they are not coming back.

Start of lap 7 somewhere near 42 minutes. Let's see what I can do. I really would like to bring them back and get into a three up sprint if possible. The gap remains the same.

Bell lap, and now we're lapping people. We've been passing C racers pretty regularly. I hear Matt calling "lead lap" at the switchback section. Good iea as we head toward the single track. I pick up one at the descent and two more in the first wooded section. I end up following one through, which slows me down a bit, and the gap is still there. I can see the two of them about 150-200 meters away. Still the MTB is on Brian's wheel.

Up to the second wooded section, and I catch Rick before entering it. I tell him this is it, so pick up some places. Three more as I hit head back into the woods... calling "lead lap" as I go. Two of the guys still head into the single track, but almost hop off the bike to get out of the way... not what i expected. Rick took advantage of that to make the same passing move. I'm still not bringing the gap down. Keep up the pressure!

On the finishing straight, I can see them still at 200 meters. I will not be able to bring them back. They've only got 200 meters to go. MTB is still on Brian's wheel. So I back it off a little. Checking behind me, there is no one. So I finish in third.


I again thought about a little salute having taken the series, but I pass. I was just glad to be done, and safe. Brian was stopped about 100 meters past the line, so I asked if he won it... nope. Nipped at the line. He was still trying to recover his breat. He said blew the sprint and was NOT happy about it. He wasn't paying enough attention to where the guy was, and wasn't ready for him when he came around.

Somehow, Luci did beat Vitor... who knows what happened at the finish, they can't tell me, so we'll never know.

The A Race

I couldn't stay and do the A race, much as I wanted to. Plenty of time for that next year I guess. I did hang around while they finished up the point tally to do the B awards.

Crazy start to the race though. One of the farm dogs was wandering around the course, and decided to lay down on the tractor road about 100 meters from where the A's were lining up. A couple of the kids were trying desperately to get the dog to move, but it wasn't budging. They started the A race, and just then the dog gets up and starts trotting toward the finish... as the pack bears down on the dog. Somehow the pack split and everyone got past the dog except for Paul Martin, who ended up going down. Not exactly the handicap he wanted.

One other A race postscript... 2nd lap, I see an Ohio Bikes and Boards jersey. Interesting, as there weren't any in the B race. Turns out Ross Clark jumped up to race A's. I've been grousing about him sand-bagging the B races since the second race, and he stepped up. He actually did really well and came in 6th place riding his mountain bike. Everyone else in the race was on 'cross bikes, on a very 'cross specific course. It'll be interesting to see what he does next year.


It would have been nice to be part of the finish, but I was happy enough with the overall. My two goals were to win a race, and take the B points series. I'd met both goals. Brian came in second in a hard fought battle for the series win. John Lorson ended up in third on his single speed with only 4 races, mostly because Ross only raced 3 B races. The points series is really like a TdF green jersey competition. You have to show up, and race consistently every week. I won it because Brian had one really bad race, were he slid out on a turn and went down hard. He was on my wheel when he went down, and didn't recover well at all. Other than that, we were neck and neck every race, usually with him in front. I had the technical advantage, he had better legs. Without that one bad race, he'd have taken the series, and I'd have been second. He beat me in by one place in four of the six races. I beat him by one place in one race, and by 6 places in one race.

So on to next year. Brian and I will be battling again, only this time in the A races. And nobody sand-bags the A race. It'll take a readjustment of goals, as winning is pretty much out of the question... finishing on the lead lap may even be a stretch... but it's a good pipe dream goal. I finished 18th overall in the A points series with only doing three races, and those were after racing the B race. If I can get to all the races, a top 10 in the points may be a doable goal.

I won't have to worry about my kids racing while I race, since they run the A race after the B and C race finish up. The down side will be getting the OK to do the races, as that will definitely mess up some family plans. We'll handle that when the season gets set. In the mean time, time to take a little down time, and get started on the winter training for next years road season.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

BA Cyclocross 5 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 20th, 2004

This week we're back in Bay Village. On the south side of the park. I've got the OK to do the double again today... last one of the year, since next week will be the final race of the season.

The Course

We raced an almost identical course last year... in more ways the one. It's been raining lightly since Thursday evening. So we're looking at a wet course for the first time all year... aside form some mud at the fields in race 3.

The start/finish is at the parking lot, and we head east along a kids football field, around a tree and back to a baseball diamond. The course follows the gravel warning track around the outfield, before cutting back in along the grass near the infield. Twist around the fence along first base, and past the right field foul pole of the next field and along the third base line. We then crossed the walkway and looped around another football field to head into the first barrier set. Around the field through a deep mud puddle and back to the a paved section on the walkway, which headed back toward the start/finish lot for the first half of the lap.

Once past the S/F tent (going the opposite direction), we looped around the lots, and hit a gravel descent, that led us to the bridge across the creek. Over the bridge, and right turn to the sledding hill run up. This year, they directed the course around the hill for the descent that led to another wet field crossing. We did an up hill 180 that lead to a paved climb to the far side of the park. The course then followed pavement almost to the road, and turned back along the grass for the second barrier set. The remount was flat, but transitioned immediately to an off camber descent that lead to the sidewalk right next to the road. We took the sidewalk back across the creek to the main park area where we rode up another off camber rise to the main level. Some twisty, flat riding around the tree picnic area, then back toward the start/finish area with another mud puddle bath to ensure the "cross" feel.

The course was just shy of 2 miles, with probably a 60-70% grass/mud, with maybe 10% gravel, and the rest pavement.

The Pre-Race

I arrived with a friend who expressed an interest in spectating the race. We brought his bike, so he could go around a few times and see if he wanted to jump in and join the fun. I arrived early to have to to loop with him, and still get in a good warmup. Early, compared to when I usually get there....

The weather was threatening cross... more rain. It was cloudy and high 50's when we arrived. Brian Ramsey was already there getting ready. mark and I suited up and took a recon lap.

Very wet. The rain is holding off, but the grass is drenched. There are lots of muddy sections. I'm again grateful for toe spikes, as they will make the run up. Talking to lots of people before the start, I'm in the minority... on the good side. Most people are not running spikes, including Brian. Very interesting. I KNOW I'm faster than him through the run ups and barrier work... with toes spikes the wet run up may be the difference today.

Turn it is still good, I've got 2 team mates today, as Larry is here, and Geoff has turned out for his first 'cross adventure. Most of the usual suspects have arrived, with a few notable exceptions. Ross Clark is not here... good for me, as he was 2 points ahead of me in the points race. Actually, none of the Ohio Bikes and Boards riders showed. Brett Davis from Snake Bite didn't make it either. Now who can I talk into doing both the A and B races?

They had one section of the course going along an off camber along the gravel leading to the bridge before the sledding hill. On the second pre-lap, they changed it to go along the gravel path. It was gravel downhill, leading to a hard right onto the bridge. I hit it at some semblance of speed, and felt the rear wheel wash out. Rick and Geoff were behind me, and had similar experiences... not going to be fun there. I stopped at the end of the lap, and talked to Zak about the change. I figured the A's could handle it, but there were going to problems with the B and C riders. I suggest putting in a chicane to straighten out the bridge approach, and make it a bit safer. They put it in... but I heard Rudy from Lake Effect talking to an A racer about the change, and how the main complainer said it was better... whatever, take it out and see how many people go down then.

I felt pretty good on the warmups, and it does warm up. I'm again down to knicks and a jersey... and am contemplating the wisdom of knickers. Nothing I can do know... I certainly won't get cold.

I'm running about 45psi in the tires, and mt remounts feel OK. Maybe because the ground is wet, I don't feel like I'm bottoming out. I'm seriously considering tubulars for next year... or at least the tubular/clincher.

The B Race

32 on the line for the start of the B's. Impressive considering the threat of rain. We start at the S/F line, and I'm lined up next Derrick from Lake Effect again. I will not let him pinch me this time. Chris from Orrville is again close, but a bit behind me. I'm thinking the hole shot is the first to the barriers, but they are pretty far away, and it should be lined out by then... so the first really technical piece is the 180 degree turn around a tree, then hitting the gravel warning track.

3-2-1, and we're racing. I get a good start and am on the front heading into the field. Derrick comes around and apply some pressure... fine with me, I'll sit on for a little bit. Derrick leads it onto the gravel, and is a bit squirrelly... but holds it together. A guy from MVH comes around, and starts pulling both Derrick and I. Brian is hard on my wheel as we make the turn onto the infield and head to the barriers. Coming around the turn into the first barrier set, it's a lead group of 4, an nice gap, and the rest of the field is lined out. Back to the Start finish, MVH and Derrick keep opening small gaps, on me. I'm not concerned with Derrick, as I expect him to fade as the race continues. I don't know the MVH guy though. It's his first race, I think.

Down the gravel, and heading to the sledding hill. They've got a small gap, and Brian is close behind. I'm comfortable in a painful, cyclocross kind of way... HR at 168 or so. We hit the run up, and I make up the gap and pass Derrick. Now it's MVH and me, I'm not sure where Derrick and Brian are, but we have a sizable gap on the rest of the field. Like, I don't see anyone as we start coming down the other side of the run up.

I follow MVH through the fields and over the second barriers. We hit the off camber rise to the S/F level, and start twisting around. I'm glued to the MVH wheel, Derrick is close behind, and Brian isn't far off... as we pull through the S/F, MVH starts to slow dramatically, I come around as he's yelling "I need an Allen wrench!". I notice the nose of his saddle is pointing straight up!

OK, I'm on the front... start to push it. Easy turn the screws. As I hit the grave, Brian is on my wheel. OK, he doesn't have toe spikes, and I'm better through the technical stuff... this is a technical course, and I'm 6 points ahead of him on the points race. He can beat me, and I'll still hold first place... but we'll see what happens... start to make him suffer!

I am only aware of Brian behind me. Through the barriers, I open a small gap... on the run up, I'm heading down when he gets to the top. Push to open the gap. I'm into the barriers, when he's still on the pavement. Nice gap... push! It's the second lap, and I'm opening a sizable gap....

Start of the third lap... as I pull off the gravel and head into the infield, Brian is about half way through the gravel. This is good, I;d like more to be comfortable, but I can live with this. Larry is in third, shouting encouragement. Nice to have team mates. That's about all I'm aware of.

As we ride, the course consistency changes. The walkway crossing becomes mucky on both sides and the field past the first barrier set becomes a very wet mud puddle. Places that were just mud, become very wet puddles of mud... with nasty tracks through them. I try to pick a line through a straight, wet track and follow it each time through.

Third time up the run up, and Brian has maintained the same gap... through the barriers... no change. Down the sidewalk and back into the twisty stuff. There's one spot where I can look back as I take a turn. I guess I was to concerned with Brian, and not the turn, because the bike slides out on me. My left foot doesn't come out of the pedal, but it does break my rhythm a bit. Back up and moving in a flash. This is MY race. I can win this thing!

As I come through the S/F I see 24 minutes, OK, I'm half way there. Push a little bit more. See if I can open it some more. Brian maintains as we hit the ball field. I'm through the barriers, and toward the run up.

The technical idea is, as you approach and obstacle, to shift into the gear you'll need on the other side. So, as I approach the run up, I shift into a light gear to get moving again, and turn toward the descent. I shift again on the descent to a gear big enough to push over the wet field. As I approach the run up for the fourth time, my derailleur hits the spokes on my wheel! I must have torqued it in the fall! OK, so instead of a 27, I have to stop at the 25 now. Ouch! No problem, this is still my race. As I'm heading down the hill, I see the gap has opened more.

The 27 was extremely helpful getting up the paved climb though. Now I'm grinding the 25 to get it up to speed after the mud approach. It seems to work, because I maintain the larger gap heading into the second barrier set.

Down the side walk and up the off camber. I twist around, and I see Brian pushing his bike up the off camber! I've ridden that every time... this is going to work. My race, com on bike, just hold together for me for another lap or two. Through the S/F at 38 minutes... 2 to go. Now we turn the screws some more. Bill Marut is traffic marshal right after the line, and comments "You;ve got a big lead". OK, let's keep it that way. Push some more.

Brian is now just starting the warning track when I make the turn into the infield. Every time the course folds back on itself, I see the gap opening. I also see that John Lorson from Orrville is now in third, but pretty far back.

Back through the S/F and Bill is again saying I've got a big gap. OK, two more times up the run up. I'm still concerned about my gears, but I can work it. I don't see Brian as I hit the descent... Same thing, he's just coming onto the upper level as I hit the second barriers.

As I come through the S/F Derrick's wife has the bell, and I ask "Now?" She says yes, so I say "RING IT!" Now I push hard... mostly because I expect everyone else to. I know the gap is big enough, I've known for 2 laps that this was mine... but this is the last lap. Push, so I'm not caught, but mostly stay technically clean... hit the run up. My race!

Last time up the run up, I see Brent Evens doing his warmup for the A race. He says "finish strong". My reply is "I have to, I'm on the front!".

My buddy, Mark has been taking pics all race, and I see him at the beginning of the last twisty section. He says "This one has your name on it", and I ask him to get a shot of me crossing the line. Brian is nowhere to be seen.... I lapped one guy riding, and one guy carrying his bike. Mechanical would suck here. I tell him I'm the lead so he knows he only has to run about qoo meters. As I finish the last bit, I contemplate getting off and carrying it over the line. Instead I do a little six shooter for my first win ever! (image to come soon, I hope).


I pulled up to the road, and talked with Mark and Bill for about a minuted when Brian went FLYING by me... I called to him that the race was over! In the back of my mind, I sure hoped it was... wouldn't that suck? Blow the finish like that. Turns out, I was right. Brian never heard he bell.

6 laps in 53:45, just under 9 minutes/lap. I ended up almost a minute in front of Brian and a minute and a half in front of John Lorson. Looking at the times, there were no sprints in the race. It was pretty much spread out over the whole field.

I'd say toe spikes made the difference for me. Brian told me he could see me get up the run up super fast, so I had him there (just like I kept telling myself). He also said I was faster on the descents than he was... both last week and this. Nice little skill when I can use it. Next week, we're at the farm... which is mostly flat, but with some rain, may be my kind of course again.

Larry came in 12th, and Geoff came in 17th. Super first race for Geoff. He basically time trialed the flat stuff, and made up for his way technical ability. He learned super fast. I wish I would have learned as much in my first race as he did... By the end of his first race, he had shifting down, and was picking much better lines than I was. I would power through the gravel infield, while he was on the grass just to the left. I didn't even think about that line until the last lap of the A race.

Only way I'm doing the A race, is if I can tweak my derailleur to give me my 27 back. They've got a hose at one of the buildings, so I go hose it off, and bend the derailleur out enough to be semi comfortable. Lube the chain, eat and drink... and jump in the next race. I guess I basically AM stupid.

The A Race

I'm just about last one to the line up, and the only guy doing both races. My goal is to hold off getting lapped as long as possible. I didn't lap many people in the B race, so I was optimistic that I might make it on the same lap as the leader.... probably not realistic, but why not. Remember, this is training only. 12 starters, including all the fast guys.

At the gun, and they are off. I try to stay with the lead group (that would be everyone) but three of us fall of pretty quickly, like before the first turn. I'm second last heading into the warning track, when the last guy passes me. OK, I'm in last place... it may be where I stay all race.

It's pretty humbling how fast the A racers are, even though this was my second race, they had some serious distance between me and them very quickly. My goal now was to see if I could peg back anyone up front. The first lap of the second race has basically been me getting my legs tuning over again. Once I hit a rhythm, I should be OK.

First and second lap, I can see two guys in front of me. One on a mountain bike, and Mike Woods from Lake Effect. Just execute, that's all this race is... I slowly peg back the mountain biker on the second lap, and pass him on the off camber climb to the start finish level. Mike is up ahead, and I see him come in at this strange angle right where I slid out in the B race.

Third lap, and it's same as it ever was... except Paul Martin is already a half lap ahead of me! Damn, they are fast. I'm pegging back Mike, when I catch him at the same spot that I slid out... he says "That's the second time I missed that turn". I wondered why I could catch him that fast.

Through the S/F for the fourth lap... somewhere near 30 minutes..OK, half way. On the way back through, Ernie is now half a lap ahead of me... Execute.. and open the gap to Mike. I;ve got Chris Staneluis handing up my water bottle.. and Kevin Ward offering water about every half lap. Nice support.

I still don't have a 27. So I'm just watching my shifting. I can live with the 25, I don't want to break anything. Derrick is walking the course taking pics.. and shouting encouragement... I need it. This second race hurts.

Paul caught me heading toward the first barrier set. It took him 40 minutes to lap me. I do my best to watch for these guys as they come up, and give them whatever line they want... but I screwed this one up. I gave him everything left of me, and he wanted to go right.

Ernie caught me heading into the gravel descent to the bridge about a lap later, and I just took the turn wide, and told him to go. I had a good gap on Mike, and huge gap on the mountain bike. I couldn't see anyone in front of me...

Watch the time, and execute. Stay technically clean and just practice everything. I only get to do so many cross races a year.. and how else am I going to work my heart rate at these levels for an hour? Shawn Adams from Summit caught me at about the sixth lap.

Seventh lap... just wait for the bell... I see Brent Evens and a Lake Effect are battling it out for fourth and fifth. Brent looks to hold the lead through most of the course, but Zak is not letting him go. I'm just trying to survive.

Eight lap, and they are ringing the bell (hurray!), and I tell them how glad I am to hear that. Let's see what I have left... see if I can hold off any other lappers. Um, no. Brent and Zak pass me at the warning track. I'm hugging the fence, and they fly by... on the grass! ON the GRASS! Why did I see all those tire marks before! That would have saved me tons of time in the B race, and lots of pain in the A race. I've got to figure out how to see this kind of stuff.

As I pass the S/F line in the opposite direction, I see Paul Martin finish up. The mountain biker is at the line also, and Bill Marut is there to. Nice of Paul to let Bill do another lap... so he finishes on the same lap as the leaders, and about a half lap ahead of me. Bill won the B series last year, so that's where I hope to be next year.

I finish alone... 7 laps in 1:10:00... 10 minutes per lap. So not all that much slower than the B race. 10 place out of 12.. not bad for a second days work. I'm now in 16th place on the A roster... only because I did 3 races. 2 of them had small fields. If I could have done the same time as the B race, I'd have been battling Bill for his spot and I would have made the lead lap. Bodes well for next year. with proper training


Figures that my win would come at the venue where they can't give cash or merchandise awards... that's OK. I'll take the win just the same. I had 2 goals for this year: 1. To win a race...any race, but I had a feeling my best shot was a cross race. 2. To win the B series points race. Today's B race met the first goal, and I'm now sitting pretty well for the second. With 1 race to go, I'm 9 points ahead of Brian, and 28 points ahead of Ross Clark. If I finish in the top 4 next week, neither one can touch me. Brian and Ross are the only threats. So I'm in for a podium. In order for Ross to win the series, he needs to win next week's race, and I need to finish 15th or lower. In order for Brian to win, he has to gain 10 points. 5 places, unless he wins, then if I come in 5th, we tie.

I've got the advantage of a points cushion. I could just mark Brian for the race, and then go at the end... or I could try to win the race. I guess we'll see how I feel next week. It sure would be nice to win again... that was fun. I could get used to that.

Monday, November 15, 2004

BA Cyclocross 4 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 14th, 2004

Fourth race of the series, and we return to the Fields in Broadview Heights. Same location, different course. Another double day for me, as I've got the OK to stay a little later and run the A race in addition to my normal B event.

The Course

In response to "suggestions" after last weekends race, they cut out some of the muddier sections from last weekend... in addition to running the course backwards in many location.

The finish line is in the same location, but we start in a soccer field. In the muck, and then onto the course and through the finish. We do a few twists before hitting a single track descent to the lower soccer field. We run along the close edge of the field to the first barrier at the stairs from last week. This time, instead of hitting the gravel climb, we turn left and head downhill to another bridge. Across the bridge we climb up a gradual climb to the parking lot at the top level. across the lot, and around a baseball diamond on some pavement with 2 90 degree turns. Watch your head after the second one, because the top level of the bleachers is right at eye height.

Back across the parking lot to the sledding hill descent. Bomb the descent, over some grass and hit the road for a climb to the star/finish level. We then head around another soccer field, across a parking lot to the log/barrier pair. Back to the main parking lot where we skirt the close edge, and get dumped back to the field at the start finish. Head around that field, and into the woods.

They cleaned up the woods section quite a bit. Instead of lots of twisty stuff, we got some longer wider stretches with only a couple of tight turns. Since we're heading backwards, we head down the slick climb, and up to the log crossing. Once past the logs, there was a nasty little S turn, then swoop through the end of the woods and we're back at the S/F line.

The Pre-Race

I'm currently sitting in second place in the points race. Brian Ramsey from Summit Freewheelers is in first with 71, I've got 65, and Ross Clark is in third with 60 (2 wins goes a long way). Everyone believes Ross is sand bagging huge... well except for his team mates, which I haven't polled. Ross is expecting his first child, so everyone is hoping he won't show. Really... everyone I talked to was saying this. The B race is supposed to be for sport MTB riders and cat 4/5 roadies. Ross wins expert races... but Lake Effect is not going to police the race. It's self categorized.

I can't control who is and is not here, so the real race is between Brian and I. He's consistently been finishing one place in front of me at every race. I need to eat into his 6 points, and now would be a good time to start. Last year on this course, I had my best race, and I was hoping to repeat.

Initial discussions with racers, including the sand bagging discussion, and I'm ready for a few prelaps. The weather is cool at close to 50, but sunny. I love this course. I bomb the sledding hill and maintain my speed into the road climb, up and over. There is some slow section on the upper soccer field, but using the berm helps. This will be a fast race with all the pavement. It feels like what everyone calls a true cyclocross course.

I'm playing with tire pressure again. My remounts seem to be bottoming out the rear tire, so I increased it to 60 with 55 on the front. I noticed a teammate Larry is here again, so I go to chase him down to test it out. As I head into the woods I hit a root or something on a corner and slide out... maybe a bit much pressure. Up and after him, and I find he's racing B this weekend. I've got help... such that it is in 'cross. I backed the pressure down to 55/50, and head to the line.

The weather has brought the people out. We've got 42 on the line... largest start of the year. Some guys that are showing for the first time, and some of the A's that have been getting thrashed have moved down to the B's. On the line... in the shade. Maybe I should have worn a little more... ah, I'll be warm soon enough.

The B Race

On the line, I get a front row next to Derek from Lake Effect, and Chris from Orrville. The ground is mucky, so a good start is important again. I want to be real close to the front going into the single track descent... normal instructions and we're off. Before I get into my pedals, Derek and Chris pinch me out... and I'm in 10th or 12th position from the gun!

Through the twisty stuff, I make up a place or two, and head into the descent. No worries through the nasty, and we're racing. I'm near the front, but it's an actual peleton in the cross race. Up the hill around the field and down teh sledding hill and up the road. We're still mostly together, and it seems like they want to stay that way. I was fine with that... it would be a different race then I've done before.

As we hit the first field crossing, Larry decides to blow this thing up. He goes to the front and pushes it. So much for my comfort level. String it out, and I'm sitting around eighth. Into the woods, one of the Ohio Bikes riders accelerates past me and hits a dirt mound for a little acrobatics. I'm behind Brett from SnakeBite, and Brian is close up ahead.

Through the woods, and the front is still in site, barely. I seem to loose a little ground on the wooded section, but then make it up through the barriers and climb over the bridge. Brian and I come out pretty even in the parking lot, and he tries as go around the baseball diamond. I just latch on, and we hit the sled descent... and I gap him, and pull back up a bit to the leaders. There are about 6 guys on the climb.

I can't hold the pace they've got, as they string out again, but I'm close... just keep them in site. Larry is looking strong leading the whole lap. I'm back on Brett's wheel. As we come around to the soccer field, Larry is pushing off a picnic table with a bottle... as 3 guys are going around to the woods. I pull pass Larry, and I'm sitting around fifth.

I manage to hold Brian off for a while, but he catches Brett and I again by the climb to the parking lot. Around we go, and I gap them on the decent/road climb. This is OK. I'll ride in my zone and make them work to catch me every lap. eventually they'll crack, I hope.

Third lap, and I'm still bringing guys back. Ross, another Ohio Bikes guy, and Todd from SnakeBite and John Lorson from Orrville (on his ss) are up ahead, then Brett, me and Brian is on my wheel. As we come through the start finish, I'm comfortable with this, and Brian hits the first of the twisty turns before the single track descent, and I hear him slide out. I expect him up quickly, but I see two guys pass him before he's back on... and I make the turn to the descent. I've got to go now, and increas this gap.

So I do... and catch Brett, and continue the pressure. Fourth lap, and I'm leading Brett around.The gap is opening, and we're closing on Lorson. Brett is still close, but it seems Brian is pegged. He's hitting the top of the climb to the parking lot, as I hit the sledding hill dscent pretty much every lap. And there are about three or four guys between us. I only need 3 guys to be even on points, anything better is good for me.

I'm gapping Brett on the sled hill/road, and he's pulling me back in the around the fields and in the woods.... but he's slowing down. Sixth lap, I bomb the sled hill, and John Lorson is off his bike on the road messing with a dropped chain. Sucks to drop a chain on a single speed. I'm past and start working more.

I'm watching the timing, and this has to be the final lap. Through the woods and I start hearing the bell... I'm in fourth, so I'm going to fight to hold it. I've got a good gap on John and Brett, so I've got to push. As I come through the lady with the bell is joking with an A rider, and I come through telling her to "RING IT". Off I go on the final lap.

The whole lap I'm saying "NO WAY am I racing with the A's. This hurts!". It's tough to figure out the gap in front, because we're lapping riders like crazy. I figure I lapped about 14 of the 42 riders. That and the A riders warming up, make it even crazier. Brent Evens is warming up and giving me some cheers as I come around and through the log barrier. I'm holding the gap behind, cause I know who to look for, but up ahead, I only know there is Todd from SnakeBite and two Ohio Bikes riders. I can't see them though.

As I get to the woods the final time, I see Rick, and that I'll catch him. So I push it a bit more. I catch him right after we get into the woods, and tell him to drive me through. He decided to yield trail, and gives me space. to pass... either way was fine with me.


So, Fourth place, seven laps in 52:56:00. I was about 2 minutes behind Ross, who won, and now has 90 points, and first place overall. I'm in second with 88. Brian came in 9th, and has 84 points. His crash sucked, but so have my bobbles over the past three weeks. I've got a 4 point buffer on him know, so I'm hoping to hold it over the next 2 races. Ross will do what he does. If he shows to both races, he'll probably take the first place. If not, it'll be between Brian and I.

As soon as I crossed the line, I started thinking about the A race. If I eat and drink, I should be OK. Lot's of chat after the race... analysis and such. Ross first, Toff Bolgrin was second. Brian came through and I talked to him about the race, and his wreck. I guess he went down harder than I thought. I kept expecting him to claw his way back, but I managed to hold the gap and break his desire I guess.

So the A race... I convince Brian to give it a go also... Nice. Then tell Brett, and he agrees also. So the three of us will go for another round.Eat drink... and eat some more. I don't want a repeat of the bonk I think I had last time I did this. They start calling the A race to the line, I grab my bike, and I've got a flat! Timing is everything, cause that flat could have killed my placings in the B race. I've got the spare wheels, but I'd rather not use that unless I have to. A guy from Spin and David Major help me get a new tube in, and I'm ready to go before they start.

The A Race

Line it up, and there are 14 A riders. Typical A race, I'm going to get killed.. but this is just a training ride, and it doesn't cost anything. I've got my Accelerade bottle in my pocket, and I'm ready to go. Off the line, I noticed that Paul Martin is taking a handicap again. We're all off, and he's still standing there... oh well, it won't be long before he' caught me.

OK, My goal is to finish and not be last. We're off, and Brian is on my wheel again. Through the first barrier, over the bridge and up the hill. and we're even. Brian pulls around me on the pavement around the diamond, and I'm in last place. No worries... It's an hour long race.

I catch and pass him again on the sled hill road climb, and we're back to the same place. around the soccer field and through the next barrier set, and I see a guy on a Steelman pull off in the parking lot. We're not last anymore. Brian and I change spots a few times, and I make some disparaging remarks about the guy that talked us into doing another race. It's only an hour though, so I'll endure.

I opened a gap on Brian through the woods, and that was the last I saw him. As we were came out, I was gaining on a Torrelli guy, who bobbled at the exit. I came around him, So know I'm in 4th or 5th from last. I'm not real sure where Brett was. Up the hill, and as I make the trip around the diamond, I see Paul Martin moving up. Not bad, I kept him off for about 10 or 12 minutes.

Around the soccer field, and I'm waiting for Paul to pass me. As we head around the field at the start finish, Rick is enouraging. Paul makes contact and goes at the switchback. I jump when he does, and they ask myself "What am I thinking! I certainly can't hold his wheel!" I let him go and settle in to my own pace.

The Steelman closes much more slowly, but catches me at the lower soccer field. He encourages me to work together, to which I scoff... it's my second race! After my initial reaction, I want to catch back onto him and explain "I'll do what I can, but don't hope for much, as it is the second race of the day."

Sixth lap, and I still see the Torrelli guy, but Brett and Brian are nowhere in site. I wonder if they're still in, or if I'm going that well. As I come through toward the woods, Ernie from Speedgoat makes the pass and I'm one lap down. Into the woods... and Brett is in front of me! What's this! I'm going to lap Brett?

Through the S/F at 47:00... and they are ringing the bell. Last lap already? "I'll take it!", but it doesn't sound right to me. I push a little more to tell Brett. I don't think they gave him the bell, because Ernie hadn't caught him yet. OK, last lap, let's see if I can only let one guy lap me. Through the barriers, and up to the lot. I see Ernie heading to the descent, and Brett is still making his way around. Catch Brett.

Bomb the descent and Rick and Kevin are on the climb... "This is not the last lap." I didn't think so... but whatever. Catch Brett!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

BA Cyclocross 3 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

November 7th, 2004

This week, we're at The Fields in Broadview Hts. After yesterday's race at Orrville, I washed the bike down, and tweaked everything to be ready for today. I'd hoped to get a nap, but things didn't work out... that and a night in a smoke filled bar (no drinks... just second hand smoke... bleach!) made my Saturday recovery complete... at least I ate well.

The Course

The Fields has a little of everything. It's basically a three level sports park. Soccer fields and some wide trails on the start finish level. A lower soccer field, with a bridge crossing a creek (that we didn't use this time) and then the upper level of baseball fields.

The race started with a road climb from the lower soccer field to the baseball fields level. Some pavement and wet grass traverses as we loop around the fields, and head to the first descent. A bombing sled hill, down to the lower soccer field. This is a really steep grade that the line really counts on. If you straighten it out just right, you can really gain some time. Around the back side of the soccer field, the first corner is very slick, put your foot down to keep it together. Across the back side to the first barrier, stairs...and then the gravel climb. If I shifted to the 27, I could pretty easily get it going again, and just ride up along the side of the last stair section. The other option was to run the 40 meters and hop on at the top.

We then lop around to the finish line and immediately hit a barrier pair and we head into the woods. This is a swoopy section of single track with some log crossings. The first was the worst, though it was ridable... as long as there was no traffic hopping off in front of you. The second was ramped and I think everyone rode it. There's some tight turns and a nasty, slick little climb where it's hard to keep the rear wheel connected. More twists and turns, some of them extreme, and we're back into the field loops. Around the fields, with some course folding sections... three directions in some. And we head back through the finish in the opposite direction. Down across what looks like planting terraces, through a gnarly down hill drop, and along the side of the road we started on. We then turn along the lower soccer field, and get led to a run up the sledding hill we'd descended earlier. This was a steep run up, and I was glad I put the toes spikes in for it. At the top we twisted around, and looped across the road to where the course had started after the road climb start.

The Pre-Race

I arrived early enough to get in three warmup laps. I was confident with the course... mainly concerned about the sled hill descent, and the gravel climb right after that. The single track should be OK for me, and having the run up and barriers... it was an all good course for me. The mountain bikes would make up ground on the single track and the sled hill descent. The crossers had the advantage of technical mud, soggy grass, the run up, and the dismounts. I figured I was good as an all rounder.

Someone must have let out that I try to come prepared. Yesterday, at Orrville, I connected Pat Miranda up with spare tube, and today, Rick snagged my SRAM master link... now I have to go to the bike shop again to restock my supplies.

A big field again. 33 starters. Brett Davis has a new 'cross bike. Chris Huck from Orrville is also doing th double day thing. The series leader, Brian Ramsey from Summit is in attendance. Plus more of the regulars. Top three on points are Brian Ramsey, me and David Major. My goal is to keep Brian in sight, and see what I can do at the finish. I need 4 points to catch him, so if I can get anything...

The Race

We line up on the road and we'll do one road climb and then enter the course on a wet grass section. Onto a sidewalk and then into the field loops on the top section. The hole shot here is to get to the grass first, I guess. There's nothing really technical until the sled hill descent, and I guess I should have though about that at the start. I did take some points liberty, and lined up next to Brian. Then nudged both of us up to the front of the line.

So I still wanted to be the first onto the course... 3, 2, 1 and away we go... and I am the first onto the grass. I push it to the sidewalk, and then let others through to pull. I let a group of about 6 get in front of me, as I recover from the initial effort. Brian is on the front pushing the pace, Brett is at the back of the 6, there are a few Spin riders up front and some other guys I don't know. I've got Brad from Spin and some guys on my wheel in the chase group.

The first time through Jay Cech is there ringing a cowbell and cheering like crazy. Bell on the first lap??? The course isn't that long. We're into the woods, and fortunately I'm at the front of my group heading into the bad log crossing. I'm over as others are off the bike. Up the climb, and the field is really strung out. Brian as at the front with some of the other guys and I'm chasing. Mostly just trying to not blow myself to bits, but keep it moving hard.

This race was insane! I was passing people... they'd repass me... I could not keep track of where I was at all. I figure out the actual finish line was shortly after the gravel hill, and right before the second barriers. Throughout the first 4 laps, I keep Brett Davis in sight. At one point Brad Beeson from Spin comes around me... and then fades. I traded places with a Spin rider on a Redline with Tufo Elite's about 4 times. He'd get a big gap, I'd catch him, then gap him.... it was yo-yo all over the place. I was gaining big time on the run up... most people were not running. It was steep at the top, but a little jog/run could gain some placings.

Passing in the woods is nuts. I was following John Reade through on one lap, and I couldn't pass him, until he dismounted for the log, and I went to the left.... and around. His comment (in disgust) was "This is NOT cross!", he broke a spoke later, and DNF'd. I figure we all race what's given us. I was beginning to regret my desire for more technical courses.

Somewhere in here I catch my right shoe on my crankarm on the barrier/stair section... it shredded some of the stitching on the compression buckle, so I'm riding with a loose right shoe. I was waiting for this to happen, and have a spare pair... but didn't want to stop and change during a race! I could also feel that one of the toe spikes had come out... fortunately, I still had reasonable footing. Minor equipment issues compared to some... like John Reade or Rick who threw his chain three times.

The race really started for me during the third lap, when I saw Brian coming back to Brett Davis in the single track. He had some problems with a particularly nasty set of turns and I figured I had a chance to keep him within some points... and maybe gain some back on the points race. I was hoping that Brett wouldn't work with him to much, but I wasn't sure what was happening up there. I did see Brian put in some efforts, and Brett was leading in some sections. I just kept the gap close, and worked on my own again.

Some where close to the fourth lap, I recaught the Redline on the run up. He suggested that we work together to bring back Brett and Brian. I was certainly game... I told him I needed Brian for the point race, and we were off. By trading pulls, we had caught them by the sled hill descent. I told Brett not to pull Brian, came by him and got on Brian's wheel at the lower soccer field. That was the last I saw of Brett and the Spin rider... now it was race between Brian and me.

Through the barrier/stairs section, I remounted on the gravel while Brian ran it. I was around him and over the top with a reasonable gap... so I attacked hard! Through the barriers, and into the woods. I've got a little ways to go, now just keep it clean, and keep up the pressure. Brian managed to pull me back some on the field loops. But not enough to regain contact. I lead him through the start finish, and up the run up. Somehow he caught me through the mud grass, and tried an attack on the sidewalk. I was able to hold his wheel, and stayed on until the mud section... where he bobbled a bit. I came around and again put a gap as we hit the descent and barrier/stair section.

OK, I've got the psychological advantage, because I caught him and dropped him... but he's not giving up. As I come through the line to start the sixth lap, I see 42 minutes on the board. We were told if, the leaders came through close to 40 minutes, they'd start ringing the bell... well evidently, this wasn't close enough. I've still got a nice gap on Brian, and I'm asking what's going on as I come through... with no answer.

Through the woods, just keep him back there. I'm having trouble keeping it clean on the single track... once I hit the fields I'm opening it up... but I can hear he's not far behind. As I come through the finish in the opposite direction, I asked about the laps, and they said 1 more... so I go hard again. One more to where, and I still haven't heard a bell!

As I hit the run up, I've got a gap, push it on the side walk, and through the mud. I'm hoping to open more of a gap, but Brian is on my wheel. Go hard again. As I make one turn I see a Chaos jersey up ahead... it sure would be nice to have a teammate, some help working this guy over! It must be Larry getting ready for the A race, so I can work to catch him. Brian is still on my wheel. Down the descent, through the barrier/stairs... OK, we're almost there... through the start finish and they're ringing the bell... one more lap to there! Ouch... this is a long race.

Brian is on my wheel... as I head into the woods. Over the log clean and I make a right hander... and bobble! I remount quickly but my chain is wacked some how... off the bike and spin the peddle, but Brian is around me. Back on and chase! A single track chase... and I am dead! This race was about a lap too long. I had put everything into the lap before.

Grab a gu, and see if I can get more out of my legs... but the gap opens more. As we head to the runup, I look ahead, and Brian is WAY in front, almost to the top of the run up already... We're lapping people, and I catch Rick. He says I'm fourth... but I don't care... I need to catch Brian. I can see him up ahead, passing two other riders. I fly by them as we hit the sled descent, but he's got to much on me. I make it around the soccer field as he's up the gravel road.... nothing left, I run the gravel section and come in 30 seconds down on Brian... again. No one between us, so again I limit it to 2 points he's gained on me.


As I passed Rick, he said I was in fourth... like I said, I didn't really care, I just wanted to be in front of Brian, and I wasn't. At the finish, they were questioning between 4th and 5th, depending on Robert Rogers... last week he finished pretty far down. Evidently, he did much better this week, and Rick didn't see him go by... whatever, 5th place it is in the books.


Larry finished 15th in the A's... with about the same time as my B race. Actually, he would have finished right behind me with the same ride in the B race.

There were some big guns in the A race. Jonathan Card is a big shot Cane Creek rider from the MAC series... I don't know what he was doing in Cleveland, but it put's Paul Martin in perspective. Card came in high places in the national races, and finished 3rd in 02 35-39 nats. Paul finished second 20 seconds back. I'd have liked to be able to stay and spectate that race.

OK, so lots of lessons from today.

  1. Does the hole shot really matter? If there isn't something super technical near the start, it may not. I need to be near the front, but not necessarily at the front, depending on the course. Last week I think it did matter, this week it was wasted energy.
  2. I probably could have done much better if I'd skipped the Orrville race. Looking at my HR data, the average was significantly lower than in the previous cross race. Though my perceived exertion was about the same... and I really felt like I blew up on the last lap. I didn't press the lap button at all, so it's hard to tell where things happened.
  3. Brian may have had more psycho advantage than I did. He didn't need to beat me, he only needed to keep me in sight, and not let anyone between us. He could remain calm while I was burying myself. Then the last lap he had the luxury of passing me if he could but could afford 2 points easily. As it was he's now 6 in front of me.
  4. It's better to be technically clean... I think that bobble may have cost me the head game which totally took me out of the place and gave Brian the complete advantage.
  5. None of it may matter, Ross Clark has handily won the last two races, and is now 5 points behind me in third. He's only there because he missed the first race. If he shows... it looks like I'll be third. I finished 5 minutes down on him today.
  6. Then there's the eating, drinking game... no answers on that. Maybe I should have carried a bottle for a couple of laps... and dropped it before the real race started.
  7. The last is the hardest to pin down... and I've noticed it before. I could push when the Redline rider came up on me. There's been times when I let a group go on a climb, then when someone comes up on me, I can answer and follow. Is my head getting in the ay of my legs? Do I have more left that I'm not using? Maybe I can bridge to that group up there... I just need to figure out what I'm doing here.

OK, so I wanted a technical course and I got it... next week, we're back at the Fields... so I'll probably get another technical course. Now I only need crappy weather... maybe that help me.

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Orrville Cyclocross - 2004

Orrville Cycling Team

November 6th, 2004

An extra race this weekend! The Bike Authority series is going on hot and heavy. 6 races in 6 weeks. But with daylight savings time, my training milage has plummeted. So, what the heck. Orrville Cycling team is putting on the first annual (I think) cyclocross race in Orrville, Ohio. So where is that? Turns out it's about an hour away close to Wooster. I get the hall pass for the day, and head down.

The race starts early for 'cross, C race at 10:00, B's at 10:45 and A's close to noon. Very nice for me, since I could be home from the B race by 1:30. I load the kids into the car at 8:30 and we're off. After some MapQuest fun (sometimes it's good, others..), we arrive around 9:50. The kids find the playground, while I get outfitted.

The Course

The course covers a park with some flat trails. The start is near a baseball diamond. There is a tight turn around the field about 30 yards after the start. We head along the field and parking lot, and 180 around a small wooded strip running along the parking lot. Back along the strip, we head to the run up... In the middle of a large field, there is a 20-30 foot high mound. It looks to be about 50 foot in diameter at the base, and is only there to provide a hill. It is grass covered, so it's been here a while. There is a single barrier at the base, to force the dismount. Run up to the top, and you remount as you start the descent down the side.

We continue to traverse the field and enter a wooded section. The course goes along the "long loop", then heads down a hill to a bridge crossing a creek. Up the other side through the woods, that leads to a lake. We circle the lake, and cross another bridge to get to the next field section. Another bridge leads to a small ridable hill. Over the hill, there's a long field before the next barrier. A single that forces the dismount before we run down a 10 foot gully, across the creek, and climb the other side. On the top, we hit the side walk for 100 meters or so, then turn through the lot that leads back to the park. We thread between some more fields, and back into a small wooded section.

Through the woods, there's an exceptionally wet mud puddle at the end leading back to the fields. We head along a fence that leads back to the last wooded section, with a small log crossing, and some swoopy up and downs before we hit the start finish. The course is about 1.5 miles, mostly flat. Actually, my daughter may have like to race this... except for the two barrier sections. She would have had company as the Miranda girls raced... maybe they'll do Boughton Farms together.

The Pre-Race

Since we arrived late, I didn't get a good warmup in. I got to the line as the C's were finishing up. Looked at the clock, and saw 10:34 so I figured one lap would be about it. So off I went.

The day was beautiful, about 60 and clear with a bit of wind. The course was damp though... with some sections being really wet. The first time I hit the run up, I immediately wished I had put my toes spikes in... Both run ups were just wet enough to be slippery. No great trouble, but I'd be doing the runs slower than I could with good footing.

No great worries about the course, it's time to line up. There's a field of 10 for the B race. Who's here? Obviously, there are a couple of Orrville riders, Pat and Linda Miranda from Snake Bite, and Phil Hines. I have no big goals for today, since my target race is tomorrow. So today is practice, and fun. I want a good start... but I'm not going to bury myself and then do poorly at the Bike Authority race. It's to bad the race days weren't switched.

The Race

10 on the line, and the official is calling names. Except the Phil isn't here yet. 10:45.... 10:50. We can see him in the lot about a quarter mile away... finally at 10:55 the official says we'll start without him, and he rolls up just then. We give him grief, count down and we're off.

The hole shot is to get to the fence opening first. First one through the opening doesn't have to wait for anyone else to get through. So I hit it, and make the shot. I start with a reasonable pace, nothing crazy but with some pressure. I've got Chris from Orrville and some others I can't tell. As we hit the run up, I do see some damage being done, but I don't know who's with me. Up and over and into the woods. I'm leading the whole field around within my comfort zone. I'm continually telling myself to go easy, I can't blow before tomorrow. Whatever place is fine.

Through the second bridge, I hit the front lip pretty hard, and wonder if I'm under inflated... remember to hop that from here on out. I'm on the front for the whole first lap, thinking... "I hope I know the course well enough." sure enough, heading into the last wooded section, I mess it up, and find out I've got Chris from Orrville, and Phil with me. They both follow me wrong, we stop, jump back on the course. Phil tells me I'm fired as the leader... to which I respond he can pull whenever he'd like. I lead it through the start finish for the beginning of lap 2.

I'm not thrilled about holding the lead through out the race, so as we head to the run up, I back it off and let the two of them come around. I'm not here for place, and there is a huge gap to Pat Miranda in fourth. I just jump onto Chris's wheel, and let them lead me through the second lap. Chris is doing fine, though it looks he's not looking very smooth through the muddier power sections. He's also giving Phil a bit more gap than I like. But it stays like this through the second lap.

As we it the S/F, the board has us at 30 minutes to go... so we're running 7.5 minutes a lap or so. Chris decides now is a good drink time, and I decide to pass him... and maybe catch Phil. I guess Chris had some trouble getting a clean drink, so I opened a really big gap on him before we hit the run up. Sitting second, I'm not far behind Phil, but I want to stay in my comfort zone. Second is good.

Pretty much status que from here. I'm keeping a constant gap on Phil, and the gap to Chris seems to be opening. The wind is a factor in some spots, and I wouldn't mind catching Phil to work the finish together, but it seems like to much work for a "fun" race. Laps 3 through 5 are just settle in and keep the gap constant. On the 5th lap Phil opened up a little. As we hit the sidewalk, I see him off the bike pulling something out of his bike. He hops back on and the gap is down to what it was before.

Sixth lap, and the bell is ringing. Phil is close enough that I could bury myself, but I just accept my position. I'll take second, and save it for tomorrows race. I'm just here to keep Phil honest. As I pass Phil's wife, I tell her this is the last lap. I do the same for the race official at the sidewalk. Then bring it home... I'm just concentrating on being technically clean.


Phil must have thought I was going to bury it to the finish. I had him well within site, until the last wooded section... I expected to see him once more before the finish, but he wasn't there. As I pulled through, he was on the fence, and could hardly talk.... man, maybe I should have pushed. I pretty much kept the whole race within a comfort zone, if I would have buried myself could it have been the win I've been looking for? After he'd caught his breath, Phil said he'd have given the win to me, if he knew I was the one chasing him... I was perfectly happy with second. I'd rather beat him racing, than him "giving it away".

Chris pulled in about a minute later for 3rd, and I think Pat Miranda came in for fourth. Pretty good turn out for their first cross race. The course was pretty nice, except it was a bit of a drive. We'll see how next year goes. If it fits the schedule at all, I may be back.


The A race had 6 starters including Phil That's good for me, since it means he won't be at Sunday's race. Brent Evans from Color Me Safe took the win in front of Shawn Adams from Summit. Phil pulled out after 3 of 10 laps.

So, it's time to recover for Sunday's race. I felt totally within myself on this race. My Heart Rate Graph pretty much bears it out. A pretty hard start, and then the rate drops down to a nice effort for the hour. We'll see how it effects the other race.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

BA Cyclocross 2 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

October 30th, 2004

Cahoon Park in Bay Village. Last year, the first two races of the season were here, so I had some ideas of the course settings. A nice sledding hill run up, a creek crossing before another run up, and a few other interesting terrain features. The listing for the race threw me a little though... (North)? What did that mean?

October 30 is my youngest daughters birthday! Luci turned 10 years old. All year long we've been talking about her trying a cross course. We'd take her bike and she could ride around a pre lap with me. If she felt comfortable with the course, I'd green light her jumping into a C race. We built a set of barriers for our back yard so we could practice getting over them, and I expected the only course to suit her would be the last one at Boughton Farm. For her birthday, I invited her out to play... I was skeptical that she'd be able to race because of the terrain, but Cahoon Park has a playground.

Saturday morning we loaded up the van. My son was coming along to keep Luci company. The chances of him racing were pretty slim. He's pretty tentative on descents. If it came to playground time though, Luci would have company. My plan was to do the B race, Luci would do the C's. If the kids weren't bored to tears, I'd jump in the A's while they hit the playground. Since I couldn't ride Sunday, I'd have time to recover.

Step 1, Cahoon Park (North). As we pulled up to the "normal" lot from last year... nothing. No cars, no tent. OK, on to the second lot... almost there and I see flags in the field on the right side of the road! Oh... North! I now have no idea what the course will be like. We park, unload and get suited up. The three of us will do a recon lap.

The Course

It's mostly flat with one set of three barriers shortly after the start. We hit a short pavement section, then wind up to the "woods". There is a 10 foot section of single track leading to a small clearing behind the trees. A sweeping curve leads to the fence along the lake edge of the park. Follow the fence to the edge of the field, and loop along the woods on an off camber sweeping turn around to the pavement.

Once on the pavement we cross a bridge, and loop around some trees. Past the tree next to the bridge and climb to the only main descent. Off camber grassy descent down to a gravel driveway. We ride the sidewalk up the other side of the hill ending in a steep 10 foot rise to the next section. Around this parking area along the fence, twisting among trees and picnic tables. Back into the field, through some more tables and head back to the sidewalk. We'll take the street back to the first section, instead of having two way on the sidewalk. They've laid out cones to keep traffic the semi safe. It's really a single track on the street though.

When we're at the gravel drive, we hop back on the sidewalk, up a short rise, and then another 10 footer to get back to the fields. Loop through some more trees, and head back to the start finish, which is located right after a 180 degree turn around a monument. Woah! I don't want to be sprinting for place at that..

The Pre-Race

We arrived and they were still setting up the course. They had originally planned on having a drop to the creek, and across, with another run up. They also had intended on having another set of barriers. The water in the creek was running to high, so instead the course was totally ridable with only one set of barriers. No run ups.... basically a grass crit.

The kids and I rode the course, with only two sketchy places. The off camber descent, and the road section. Luci will be a downhiller of some sort. She loves bombing drops... at her speed. So she was fine on that. My son decided that once was enough for him, and opted not to race. Luci was in, so she got a race number for her birthday... at no charge since U18, and women are free.

After our recon, I did a couple more laps. I was pretty disappointed in the lack of technical sections. There were plenty of sharp turns, but it wasn't going to make or break a race. This was going to be fast and furious from the gun. The course was a bit confusing also, since they didn't have enough tape or cones to go all the way around. So they had flags on the second field. We had some course cutting just because you couldn't always see the correct way.

The Race

With the course confusion, we all took a parade lap, just to clarify any strange sections. B's and C's together. Luci opted against the recon... to keep her lap count down. Plus it kept her out of traffic.

Contenders here, we lined up with 33 in the B's! One of the largest fields I've seen in the cross race. Ryan was out sick... I guess he had trouble getting out of bed. Brian from Summit (2nd place last week) was here, as were Brad from Spin and Brett Davis and Pat and Linda Miranda from Snakebite. Phil Hines showed up also... so he was the guy I was watching.

The C's start a few minutes after the B's, so I lined up and gave Luci a final thumbs up. I was next to Phil on the front line, computers were reset and I was ready to go. Phil was telling me that we needed to go for the hole shot... be the first to the barriers, and that was my plan. With 33, the first time through was going to be carnage. Someone was bound to fall, or stall on the dismount and hold up a bunch behind him. So I was ready.

Off goes the gun, and we're off. I'm hammering a start sprint, and I'm second to the barriers. Nice dismount, and I'm past the guy in front of me. A clean remount, and I'm on the front. Around the turns to the fence... and I'm trying to get someone else to take the lead. I do not want to break wind for the entire race. And there was some serious wind! Mostly blowing south to north, it was almost always a cross wind, rarely a tail wind... but when we turned south... nasty. Finally, Brad from Spin comes around, and we follow him around for the remainder of the first lap.

As we're heading along the fence, They've let the C's go. I see the group hit the barriers, and Luci is the last one through. I give her some encouragement, as Brad comes around.

Second lap. Brad is on the front through the barriers. Shortly after, Phil makes a jump. 2 new guys follow, and I'm on the wheel. Sitting fifth. Phil is off the front, Brad is there, then the two new guys. Over the bridge and around the trees. As we head into the off camber turn, the guy in front of me hits the leaves hard and slides out! I'm thinking I'm down, but somehow I thread my front wheel right between his feet and his bike. Gonna have to watch those leaves. And they are everywhere.

Third lap. Still sitting 4th. Brad is coming back, but the guy that went down comes around me. Riding along the woods at the end of the fence, I hit a leaves wrong and I'm down. Up quickly enough, but Brian and an Orrville on a single go by me... and open a gap as I reaccelerate. Shoot 7th! I pull Brad back before we hit the road, and we're onto lap 4.

I passed Luci once in here, and asked how she doing. She seemed a bit frustrated and said she might quit. I just told her she doing fine and whatever she does, she's done great.

Fourth lap, status quo. I'm opening a gap on Brad, but not bringing back Brian and the Orrville rider. I can see them trading pulls, and I can't close that gap. Around and through for the 5th lap.

I've got some nice lines going except for the section where the guy went down in front of me... I take that one wide every time to avoid the same problem. Still I loose time in that section as well. I passed Luci again on our fourth lap (I think), she's less frustrated and said she decided not to stop. I'm sure this is her last lap though. she's running close to her 30 minutes.

Fifth lap, no change. The good news is my remounts have been clean throughout. The bad news is there is only 1 per lap. More barriers and more run ups would be better for me. Phil is sitting third, the two new guys are not far in front of him. Then Brian and Orrville are trading in the chase. I'm alone, then there is a chase behind me of what looks like 6 guys. David Major, Paul Salipante from Square Wheels, Brett and Pat from SnakeBite, and Brad from Spin. I can't drop back, I have to try to catch the two ahead of me... but they are not coming back.

Sixth lap... Time is running out. I've got to start stepping on it. Rick and Luci have finished up. I come through as Luci is climbing off, and give her another cheer. As I pass the S/F, Rick is shouting that I'm not going hard enough... I look down and my HR is 178...my max is 182. I don't have much harder I can go. No difference though. I'm in no-man's land. Not closing the gap, but not getting caught. Up and around

Seventh lap, and they're ringing the bell. I make sure that they've told the other 5 guys ahead of me, because I haven't heard a bell, and I try to give it everything. The gaps aren't moving. As I come up the sidewalk, I see Phil has moved into second, and the guy in third has basically sat up. I'm fighting the urge to do the same, because I might be able to catch one of the two guys ahead of me... or they may catch the guy in third... nothing doing though. Around the field, back down the street, and I see there is now way I'll catch them. Now it's just hammer for pride and to be sure to stay away.


Through the finish for sixth. Not what I wanted, but Brian only got fifth. So he pulled 2 more points in front of me on the overall. Brian is now in first overall with 48 points, and I'm in second with 44..It was the best case scenario, since I couldn't get back to him.

I was again about 30 second behind them. I managed to hold off the chase group by about a minute... not bad for a solo effort. It gave me enough recovery to cheer in some of the guys I know... Hopefully, I didn't make any enemies, as I tried to encourage Paul Salipante to hold on to beat Pat Miranda. Oh well, Paul was shaking his head the whole time anyway. He'd given up before I started yelling.


Rick raced the C's because his son was with him. He ended up winning on his SS by a minute. Luci did great for her first race, completed 2 laps on an adult course. I haven't asked her if she'll ever race again... I think she will. She'll make a great crosser. The first thing she said to me after our races was "I got a bad start! So I was last into the barrier section." She even knows the proper excuses.

As far as my excuses... the course wasn't hard enough (Really), I'm better when we've got run ups and barriers. I can't say I had a bad start, but my one fall cost me. I may have been able to hang onto Brian and Orrville if I'd have stayed upright. AND... I'm really trying to peak later in the season (that one sounds good).

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The HR data from the race is again really interesting. I managed to hit the button on every S/F pass. 1.7 miles per lap, I averaged about 6.5 minutes per for 7 laps. My average HR was 174, every lap had averages of plus or minus 2.

A Race

Since I brought a lunch for the kids, and even though there wasn't a play ground for them, they said they'd be fine running around while I did the A race. Phil said he was going to join in also... it's all for training. He'd taken second in the B's and beat me by a minute and a half, so I had no illusions that I'd be beating him in the A's. It'd be fun to have someone else suffering like me, though

I'd already done 7 laps, what was a few more? I did put the bottle cage back one, and carried a bottle. No run ups, so I wasn't shouldering the bike for anything. So there was no advantage to not having a bottle. Brett had intended on doing the A's, but I guess his finish (11th) and family told him he'd had enough.

So now I'm racing with the big boys. Paul Martin and the normal A's, and Bill Marut and Chris Aron who raced B's last year. Chris assured me, he'll be near me for the entire race, but I'm not buying. My only goal is survive, and with luck, I won't finish last. Everything else is practice riding, dismounts, remounts and just get another hour or so in.

I was kidding Phil about going for the hole shot again... this time from the third row. I did see one guy behind me that I had an obvious chance of beating... if he's actually racing. He's line up about 5 yards behind the field. There's also a guy with street clothes and a tie. I don't know... maybe?

The gun, and we're off. I'm on Phil's wheel through the barriers, and running them hurts. Remount and follow everyone through. On the fence and the gap starts to grow. I'm last except the guy that lined up off the back. I see him hit the barriers behind me, so he did start.

And so it begins. 9 laps of pain. I actually passed a Summit guy on the second lap, and gapped him hard by the end of the 4th... so much I thought he may have DNF'd. About 32 minutes, I was really dead. I took another gu shot and drank, and just hoped. My kids were at the S/F giving me high fives as I went through one side, and then almost knocking me off as I came around the other side... twice. John Reade was near the barriers giving me info on my splits. Rick was also calling encouragement.

From lap 3 to about lap 6, I was chasing a guy on a fixed gear, and he was coming back slowly. I kept chipping away, and chipping away. About the 5th lap, Paul Martin was catching me before I hit the sidewalk. I help up before the descent so he could pass and hit the pavement unhindered. I didn't loose any places with that move.

The wind was horrendous, and getting worse (or so it felt). On the open stretches I felt like I was leaning hard to the south. I really should have figured out how to tack the bike into the wind! There was one gust I was greatful for as I came to the 10 foot rise on the back field... leaves were indicating I had help... and I enjoyed it for what it was worth.

On lap 6, I came around the turn by the bridge and did the same slide out that the guy did in front of me in the B race. Wheels hit the leaves and just slide right out from underneath me. I hopped back on, but had dropped the chain. I was able to pedal it back on, but the fixie was gone then. My only motivation was the guys cheering on the course and the fact that I was in front of someone.

Lap 7 I saw that Derek from Lake Effect was starting to come back to me. John confirmed, and I was chasing again. Obviously Derek saw I was coming back, and just maintained the gap. I think he was toying with me.

The most impressive move was Phil... after doing the B race, he was well in front of me... many places in front. He was doing damage in the A's after racing hard in the B's! Turns out he got 11th place out of the 17 starters (not including the guy that lined up off the back). Bill Marut and I both think he could have top fived the A's if he skipped the B race. Pretty much puts at least the top 3 places in the B race solidly in the sandbagger field.

I ended up 16th out of 17. Not last! Hurray! I also cleaned 15 out of the 16 remounts even when tired. It was the closest I've ever come to climbing off the bike during a race. Once I'd gotten through the halfway lap, I knew I would finish though. I ended up 30 seconds behind Derek and only 1 lap down on the leaders. With another lap, I may have been able to lap the guy behind me... if I could have survived it... I was pretty cooked by then. He finished 2 laps down. I was about 1 lap and 5 minutes down on the leader, so I was far from being lapped again.

Oh... the guy with the tie... it's Halloween dude. Zak from Lake Effect dressed up, including a wig and he had a goatee for the race. I didn't recognize him until he took off his helmet after the race... and then the Halloween thing was so clear.

The most interesting part was following the A riders (as they lapped me) through the course. They had lines I'd never thought of. I think they all went to the right of the tree at the bridge where I slid out. It straightened the line out considerable, and made it totally ridable. Took me 11+ laps to find that one. Of course the first couple of laps had that line taped out, but the last 6 laps on that line where fast and easy.

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Again, my HR was higher than I thought... average over the 9 laps was 163. Again it was in the +/- 2 range on each of the laps.

Next Week

Next Sunday we're at Brecksville. This was my favorite course last year, hopefully, they won't change it much. I think need the technical sections, especially if I'm going to get in front of Brain. There is also a race on Saturday in Orrville. If nothings going on at the house, I may try it out... not to win, just to go out and have some fun on a different course. I'll be looking hard at it over the week.

Some Pics from the A race. Rick was snapping and cheering at the same time... it meant tons in my ability to finish. Thanks! Believe it or not, this is a race, it's just I'm again in a no mans land.... really close to the back.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

BA Cyclocross 1 - 2004

The 2004 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series

October 24th, 2004

So here we are, my target series is here... and I'm still trying to figure out how to train. I've done a couple of Wednesday night practice races at Edgewater. The first one was great, the second one was terrible. OK, not really terrible, just not as good as the first... The down side was the 2nd race was 4 days before the series started. So my confidence was a little bruised. OK, I'm not shooting to win the training races, my goal is to pick up at least one race win, and get the series win.

I ended up taking most the week off the bike. I only road the Wednesday race and did an easy Saturday morning. I felt like trash on Saturday also. On the bike, off the bike... it didn't matter. I did a few intervals, and mostly took it easy for the day. A short nap helped... and a nice sleep in on Sunday morning... there are advantages to 12:00 start times.

The first race was in Vermilion, OH. Yes, way west. So I loaded everything up on Saturday. On Sunday morning, I threw the bike on the back and was on my way at 9:30. I arrived at about 10:40 with the gas stop. Signed in and scoped out the course.

The Course

Sherod Park is right on the lake front. They laid out the course with about 8 switchbacks. Some of them went around trees, but most of them just did a 180 degree turn. Pretty wild and twisty.

We started near the road on the grass and did a short straight uphill start to the finish line and the main course. This was in an attempt to spread things out a little before things got tight... it almost worked. A couple of sweeping turns and we're into the trees. Three sections about 20 yards long are connected by 180 turns around 2 trees... and under some pretty low branches. Then a long loop around the front of the park. The course was probably half made up of wood chip trails. It's kind of like sand only bigger chunks, it still sucks a bit out of your acceleration, but doesn't ruin your gear quite as fast... and it makes it tough to hold the wheels down on the switchbacks.

Down past the pavilion to the start location and the first true switchback, just to add a bit to the trail. After the turn, accelerate up a 10 ft grass rise to the road and hit a sweeping right turn to the next field loop. 180 around a tree, up the hill, and then down to the wooden bridge crossing. 3 foot wide bridge, you can only do single file. Oh and no hay bails... in case you were wondering.

A quick left, another switchback onto the wood chip trail and a ridable climb. If you stayed on the chips, and stood you could make it but the rear wheel wanted to come loose. I tended to stay on the grass on the right side for traction.

At the top, we loop through the sculpture (very cool), and around and back down the hill. Through the only marginally muddy section and we looped around the third field. A short parking lot stretch led to the next descent. This one had us go through a sand pit... well, you could go through, but I don't think anyone did. There was another switchback right after the it, so it was best to avoid the sand to the right to setup for the left hand turn. It was tight considering it was at the bottom of a hill.

Climb the hill, a sweeping 180 and head downhill to the first barriers... at beach level. 2 barriers, then 10 yards to a 3 foot diameter log. Over the log and claw your way up a 6 foot climb on a set of mud steps. Then hit the off camber remount... downhill right, so the bike slides away as you hop on... 30 yards, of off camber, then a left turn to the run up. Not huge, but the turn did the damage. Some could ride it, but it was a grind. I shouldered and ran it.

Next we squeeze through a couple of tight turns (through an opening in an 8ft fence) to get to the baseball field loop. Around the fields, and head back in. Before we get to the finish, we do another set of twisty wood chip paths, and the second barrier set. This one is right before a right hander onto another wooden bridge. To make it more interesting, the bridge leads to the uphill finish.

The Pre-Race

A very interesting course. Lots of grass, lots of wood chips. 1.5 miles almost exactly... and the barriers are placed in wild locations. The first set requires you run the short beach, log and hill climb before remounting. Some guys ran the second set, bridge and hill to the finish. I decided to remount on the bridge and ride the finish hill.

I did my pre-rides at 60psi. I pumped up before the Wednesday Edgewater race to try to avoid pinch flats. That worked fine, but I wasn't sure how the sand and wood chips would effect my ride. So after the pre-ride I reduced back down to 45psi. Number one mistake of cross riders is running to much pressure, right? The course had almost no mud, so I wasn't sure what to do... last year, everything was muddy.

There were lots of people I knew there. Guys from last year, guys from Edgewater, and guys I'd met throughout the year. The first race of the year, and we have to see where everyone is fitness-wise.

The Race

19 on the line for the start of the B race. I managed to get a front line position, and try to figure out what gear to use to get a good start. The gun and away we go...

Evidently, I picked to big of a gear, and I'm 6th over the hill and onto the course. Brett sets the pace on his single speed, and we all follow along. Through the first lap, a few gaps open in front of me, but nothing huge. I gain a bit through the barriers and run ups. Things are pretty stable through the first lap... with about half the field gapped behind.

Starting the second lap, I'm around 5th when Ryan comes around me. So I've got Ryan and Brad from Spin, Brett Davis, John Reade from Honey-Stinger, and a Summit Freewheeler in front of me. Near the middle of the second, I passed Brett. I guess the switchbacks really sap the momentum advantage of the single-speed. I also pick up the Summit guy going through the barriers and run up. Fourth... not what I want, but we've got some time to get up there. Having Brett behind me is already a good sign.

3 guys ahead and I've beaten all three of these guys. Granted, I've only beaten Brad once, and that was mostly by his misjudgment of what lap we were on. Brad and Ryan are up front, then John and I. I use the rest of the lap to close the gap to John... maintaining the distance to Brad and Ryan. I'm hoping to recruit John's help to bring back the two Spin riders. As I catch John, I asked how he's feeling, and he can't answer me. Turns out he's having an asthma attack... so he's backing it off to recover. I'm in third with with Ryan and Brad up ahead.

Start the 3rd lap... and Ryan and Brad are looking pretty good. I'm actually hoping they're pushing it too hard... I'm comfortable (as you define comfortable in a cross race!), and I'm hoping I'm recovering for the final laps... oh yeah, how long have we been out here??? 27 minutes. So we're about half way there. Focus on maintaining the gap... don't let it open, but don't blowup. Heading into the second barrier section, and the Summit guy is back! I bobble the bridge remount, and he's around me as I swear and regain the course. Up and over and I'm on his wheel.

Through the trees, and we're bringing back Brad. Ryan's gone away, but it looks like Brad is cooked. On the wood chips, and we catch him... then Summit attacks him before we get to the switchback. I should have jumped there also and stayed with him... instead I end up fighting for position through the switchbacks and over the bridge... it takes the big climb to finally get him behind me for good.

Now I'm third again. Brad is fading, but Summit has opened a gap... not a huge gap but it's big enough. Ryan is looking really strong... can he hold it? I keep watching ahead, and behind. I'm pretty comfortable that I won't get caught from behind... now what can I do about moving up the podium?

33 minutes through lap 4. Nothing is closing. I'm still pretty smooth through most of the sections. I bobble the shifting on a few of the descent/climb transitions, especially the sand pit. I really should start picking up my pace.

I can still see Ryan ahead... and we've got to be getting to the bell! Pick it up... everyone will be cranking for the last lap. So you have to chase hard! But the gap is not coming down! Around the baseball fields I even put it in the 48 to try to get some more speed. Watch the path to get the best line. I am not closing. As I come around the last switchbacks, the Summit guy is through the last barriers... I'm third. OK, no mistakes... just bring it home. Through the barriers, and I ran it up the finish hill.


49:22 for third place. It's a start. Ryan came in just over a minute in front of me. Summit was about 30 seconds up. I ended up taking home some bar tape, which about covers my expenses... and it's the right color also, black! All the better.


My average heart rate for the race was about 169... that's averaging 93% of my max for almost 50 minutes! Maybe I should figure out how to time trial! Nothing strange in the data either. Max was 177, high average lap was 171, low was 168. I was running about 8 minutes a lap. The last lap was the fastest at about 7:53, but I didn't hit the button at the end of the 2nd and 3rd... and the 1st was also a bit off.

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Other things to tinker with are tire pressure, and my race tactics. I felt like my rear tire was flat on the wood chips. I think I should have left that alone after the preride... or not been so aggressive and run something closer to 50-55psi. I also messed up the start with my gear change before the gun, I should have followed Summit's attack around Brad from Spin, and I should have started pushing harder on the second to last lap. It's like I'm learning to race cross all over again.

I'm hoping that I raced poorly because of how I was feeling this week. It may have been the week off the bike. Time to get back on the training... I'm hoping to improve over the next 5 weeks. Ryan has 5 points on me... We'll see how the rest of the races go. I've been putting a lot of pressure on myself to do well at these, I may do better if I just relax and have some fun. I'm content with my third place, but I'd like to do better for the rest of the series.