Monday, December 05, 2005

Bike Authority Cyclocross Series 7 - Boughton Farm

December 4, 2005

The series final, and we've got more snow. I got at least 2 feet from Friday to Sunday morning, so I've been watching the site. I hope they don't cancel this week... Sunday morning forecast is partly cloudy with temps between 25-30. Should be fun... at the venue, they only have about 6 inches on the ground. So my cancellation fears were unwarranted.

So we're back at the farm. I've had my best race this year here, so I'm hoping for a repeat. I'm sitting 6th in the overall points race, but my only hope of moving up is if someone in the top five doesn't show up. Not likely, though the snow and cold could help here. My goal for the day is to race cyclocross! In the last few weeks, I've been there but my head was not really in the race. After the race is over, I find I didn't analyzing the course for the best way to attack each section. Today I'm going to use my warm ups to decide when to run, and when and how to ride each section. Then leave everything out there to try to get a result.

The Course

They ran the course backwards from last time. So we started by criss crossing the south field, this was mostly snow covered, but wet if you got off the main trail. Once heading along the edge to the back corner, the trail was a bit softer over the rise to the wet back corner. Around the back of the field, and we twist into the woods. The entrance to the first wood section was a bit ice cover with some pretty sketchy corners. The next wooded section was a bit worse because it had more twists. We exit that section into a 180 degree turn that dumped us into the first barrier set that went up a slight rise.

At the top of the rise, we rolled over to a gradual decent that lead directly back to another rise to the last wood section. Less twisty, it was faster in this direction because we could slalom around the thinner brush in this direction. Again we dropped a bit and then headed to the second barrier set. This one was a bit taller, and went around a rising curve  to the north field.

The north field was a bit more open, so had more snow. On the way out it was mostly smooth, on the way back it was rutted, snow covered and windy. At the end of the lap, we twisted around the greenhouse, then two quick turns to the last 50 meters to the finish.

1.55 miles, I was a bit nervous about getting lapped. Shorter course is harder to hold the FFG's off, hopefully the snow/ice/mud and my strategy for the day will help me make it on the lead lap.

B Race 

Well, Brett gave us all a scare when he didn't show up until the whistle blew to line up for the start... a disappointment for Eric Lesco, the guy he was in a tie for second place with... he basically threw his wallet to the registrar and lined up in jeans. Rolled up one leg and off they went. He did have time to grab his jersey and gloves, but that was about it.

25 B racers and the it all went well. With no warm up, and slightly frazzled at the start, Brett marked the series leader, Matt Weeks for the entire race. Leaving the third place Eric Lesco a short distance behind. Brett recovered from a slight bobble at the last barrier set to get in front of Matt on the way back across the north field. Matt came around before the turns to the finish, and Brett almost came back for the win. The ice played a roll on the second to last turn, where Brett almost went down, saved it but threw his chain... he was able to coast in for second place. A very exciting finish and enough to give Brett second in the overall with some nice swag.


With the snow and mud, I opted for the Michelin Muds over the Tufos. I dropped the pressure to high 30's and probably could have gone a little lower because there wasn't anything on the course to pinch flat on.

With temps in the high twenties, I opted for the long sleeve Craft wind block base layer, the gore wind stopper jacket and the team wind vest. I was a bit warm with this last weekend, but the temps were slightly higher then. I went without the skull cap this time, but kept the tights on.

On my warm up laps, I noticed I was having trouble clipping in after my dismounts, so I decided against the toe spikes. They also did some digging and spread dirt over the icier sections in the woods. That's OK with me, it just means I'll be able to go faster. 

A Race 

I thought I might get into the top 5 prize list when I didn't see Paul Martin anywhere, but 15 minutes before the start, he signed in sealing my overall placing at 6th. 12 A racers lined up all the fast guys there. My work is cut out for me. They moved the start of the A race so we didn't start jamming it into 3 turns... instead we jammed it through the rutted, wet field. Paul decided he was going to wait until it strung out a bit before going to the front and making it hard on everyone.

I had a good start and was sitting 6th for a short while. Paul and Zak both passed me heading to the far corner.  I followed Rudy through the first wooded section before the gap started to open slightly. 8th through the start finish, I held off the next guy until we were through the first wooded section again. I tried to hold onto that wheel, but either I was over extended or he was just too fast.

So we settle into the race, and the guys I normally race are behind me. John Lorson is about 500 meters back, and Jeff Cartledge is behind him. I don't think I can loose my overall, and it's only for pride anyway, so I'm going to race for today. If I blow up, I blow, but I'd like to beat Lorson. I may have even been pushing it too hard here, because I was still a bit over heated, so I unzipped a bit to get some air in.

Cool thing about the series final is they do the awards after the A race... so all the B/C racers that want to hang out are there cheering on the A race. Cowbells and screaming. Lots of people calling my name, which was way cool. I had some buddies screaming at me to push it through the barriers, or through different sections of the course. Makes you push that extra bit, even if you do feel like belting them at the same time.

I'm feeling pretty good through the next two laps. I'm holding off Lorson pretty well, he closes on me until the barriers where I'm running hard, and opening it back up. I'm also holding reasonably close to the guys in front of me. I can see Rudy getting caught by the last guy that passed me, and Ross in front of them. Rudy and the other guy are riding together, trying to bring back Ross.

I'm having a terrible time getting clipped back in after my dismounts. I'm spending tons of time on top of the pedal instead of in it. I may have to look at a new pedal system soon. Then Lorson starts to close it down a bit. He catches me through the woods on the fourth lap. Rudy must have lost it in the last wooded section, because we pop out, and he's right there. Lorson comes around me and says "Let's get Rudy". That's fine except I think I was working too hard to hold you off. I dig in, but again have to let the wheel go and they open a small gap before the start finish. 

The gap opens a bit more in the field crossings, when Lorson catches Rudy and attacks. He opened a gap, but must have slid out as I heard a bunch of guys gasp, and saw the places had changed again. OK, I have to keep digging to keep them in sight. It looks like Rudy is having a tough day, as Lorson pulls away. It's OK with me, I'd trade beating Lorson for getting over Rudy in a second. Through the woods, and over the barriers, it looks like I'm closing a bit. Then through the last wooded section, I decided to push a little harder. As I approach the first turn, I see a few tire marks. Hmm, looks like someone slid out there... sure enough, I hit it and do the same thing. I hit the ground, but get up pretty quick, I would have been off again faster but a 4 foot long branch got stuck in my front wheel. After extracting it and throwing it to the other side of the course, I was off again... but by then Rudy was gone.

OK, ooh my knee's a bit tender... same knee that's been tender since I decide to see what it's like to hit the pavement right before cross season. It loosens up pretty quick, but it still takes me half a lap to convince myself to keep racing. 4 to go, and now it's about not getting lapped. This is my worst lap. It's the only time I push the bike instead of shoulder it over the barriers. I can't see anyone up ahead or behind, but I know I'm about half a lap or more down on the leaders.

3 to go, and I see Paul Martin at the second barriers as I'm coming through the start finish. I actually see him take a spill on the icy section past the barriers. As I passed Brett on the course, I ask if Paul's on the front of the race so I know how much I've got. He is, so I start pushing it a bit more. Even though I've got three to go, I'm going to race these two as if they are my last. If I get caught, they will be. If not, I can coast through the real last lap knowing I've finished on the lap with the leaders.

2 to go, and I don't see anyone behind me... time to give it everything so I don't get caught. Dig deep and race clean 'cross. Find the fast lines, and control the ice. I'm into the north field and I still don't see Paul behind me. Once to the greenhouse, I relax a bit knowing I've made it. Now I can just coast through the last lap.

As I come through the finish line, I catch a glimpse of someone a way up the trail. My buddies are still screaming for me to finish strong, but I just did my unofficial last lap... I can relax now. Cresting the hill though, I see Jeff Cartledge up ahead of me... hey, maybe I can lap him before the end. If nothing else, it's the motivation I need to finish the race strong, so I get back to work.

Jeff is pretty far ahead, so I'm going to have to really dig. As I'm coming through the first barriers, it looked like they were going to take them down. They saw me coming though, and I sprinted through them. Through the woods clean, and chase. Next barrier set, and push the fields. I was closing, but not fast enough. In the end Jeff held on by 300 meters or so.

I finished 10th out of 12 at 1:12:23. I was just over 2 minutes down on Rudy, so no chance getting up a place there. Last on the lead lap with a good race to close out the season.


Turns out I lost my computer when I went down. So I've got two sets of stats.

 9 laps
10th place
 Max:17.9 mph
11.49 mph


Before the crash, I had an average of 11.6, so I lost about a tenth getting back into the race, and coasting until I saw Jeff.

So my season is over. I'd love to do the Nats, but life won't let me put it on hold to allow for the long weekend. I ended up sixth on the points series, so I was first off the prizes. I basically did that by showing up every weekend. On the up side, they raffled off a wheel set after all the festivities... and I won it. So that was pretty cool. I guess I'm actually ahead on 3 years of cross racing now.

Special thanks to team Lake Effect for putting on a great series. Overall, I'm content with how the season went. I would have liked the weather to behave, so I could have wound up my top end.  I would also have liked to have avoided my two weeks of bike crashes right before the started. On the up side, I avoided getting lapped in 3 out of 6 races, which I count as success. Especially when 2 of those three races, I was only caught by Paul. I only had one bad race, and I think I know how to avoid that next year.

Speaking of next year. My new goals are to again not get lapped, but this time to avoid it in all the races. I'd also like to get into the top half of the A field on a semi consistent basis. Overall, I'd like to move up to get into top 5 on the series. I'm hoping to get to some UCI events, and I might even arrange to do Iron Cross and/or the Nats. This may mean I'm going to have to buckle down and get onto a structured training plan though. Intervals, and more technique practice, any result would make it all worth it.

Thanks for reading. I'll probably being doing some writing for statistics until the road season starts in March.

Ride safe.