Monday, November 27, 2006

BA Cyclocross 5 - Boughton Farms 2006

November 26, 2006

Thanksgiving holiday was very nice. As the temperatures started to climb throughout the week, I did a nice long MTB ride with Brett and friends on Thursday, lots of yard work on Friday, a nice ride on Saturday... add lots of sleep and it's all good for racing on Sunday.

Usually, it's a huge issue figuring out what clothes to bring to the cross race. You want to have enough clothes to be warm, but not so much you overheat. So I pretty much dump everything I own in the race bag, and make the call on the line. Unfortunately, I wasn't totally prepared for 65 and sunny in late November. I remembered the short sleeve jersey, but not the shorts. So I raced in knickers... I keep forgetting, is it "65 degrees, cover the knees" or "60 degrees, cover the knees"? Whatever, race what you brung, and I'm covered.

With a sunny, warm day everyone was out racing cross. The C field had 23 including 8 juniors. 48 B's, 15 A's and 6 master's. I was surprised we had 70+ in crappy... er, I mean CX weather, but I was just as surprised that there were over 90 this weekend.

The team was again well represented with Sam and Nicole Miranda racing the C race. Gary, Rick, Pat and Linda racing B's. Then Brett in the A's and I in the Master's field. With 48 B's I guess a wreck in the start was inevitiable, though it surprised me that it happened at the first mud on the course instead of the first barrier. So the hole shot is VERY important in large fields.

The Course
Boughton farm is... a real farm. The start had us behind the barn right before a shallow left hander that led about 150 meters along a tractor road through a field. I didn't recognize the crops this year, but in the paste it's been cabbage. The field is mostly flat with a slight crest. Around a long, bumpy dirt 180, and return the 150 meters to the finish line, another long dirt/gravel 180 and back across the field, this length had a soft wet spot about half way up. If you held your line through the center, you could float through it. Either side, and you'd get wet... hence the start crash in the B field, it's warm, but don't get wet! At the end of this length, another long, grassy 180 that I was often close to a two wheel drift and repeat the length to the first barrier set. The barrier set forced a dismount before a small water crossing. It was really too wet to call a mud pit. No sense remounting there, might as well run it. Remount and do another 180 around the gas well, and back up the field about 100 meters before turning into the next field by way of another grassy, nearly drifting 180. Then sweep along the bumpy grass section at the edge of the field before the first single track section. Serious single, since the trees were tight, with some twists for fun. Down a slight hill, and then head back up through the second barriers that required some hill running before remounting. Back down the hill, and into another single track section, across the edge of the field into the wide paths of the back woods. Then around the back side of the third field, which historically has been wet, but was mostly dry this year. More bumps and soft grass along the shallow uphill grade before the shallow descent along the back side of the field. At the end we turned left off the farm, and headed through some more woods, then along a stretch of backyards. At the end of this, we hit a culvert crossing, leading to 2 long road sections that delivered us back to the start area.

A nice long course at 2.5 miles. Nothing super technical, though I did attempt to ride the culvert about 10 times before deciding it would just be faster (and safer) to run the thing. The single track would slow me down a bit in the tight sections, but it was mostly flat, mostly wide open. The wind could be a factor, and we all expected a fast day. I had brought the trainer, but the weather was nice, and the course was pretty dry, so I did the warmup on the course. I'll save the trainer for the nasty weather.

Dry course, I ran the Tufo's. I did have a bit of trouble in warmup with the shifting, but tightened the cassette before the race, and it was much better. Enough wrenching before the race, I'm tempting fate here.


On the line, the A's were commenting on no wrecks. I really wish I would have seen it. A well, with only 6 master's, I'm sticking to the "no sense killing it, until it counts" strategy.
The A's take off, and a minute later, we're racing. On nice feature of the 1 minute lag is the A's are out of site by the time we start, so we're not "distracted".

Off we go, and I'm following the standard lead 5. Bill got in front of Jeff, though so it's a bit out of sorts for the first 2 passes of the field. As soon as Brent and Rudy start to pull away though, Jeff jumps around and it's all sorted out. I'm on Bill's wheel and Brent is pulling Rudy and Jeff away.

The first lap, I'm just trying to hang with Bill. He ends up with a gap of about 30 yards, and I'm just content to peg that solid, and work my way around. As we come through, I note the lap time of 10:08. So we're a little behind the 10 minute flat average lap times of the B race winner.

Second lap, I start to bring it back. I'm close enough to see Bill as he crosses the culvert, and follow the road into the fields. It takes me 3 of the crossings to close the gap, and I know my best strategy is to attack hard when I catch him. I've got to convince him that I'm going fast enough that he can't catch me. Then open the gap so he won't be able to close it. So I work the plan. Catch, and attack hard. I get a decent gap before the three wooded sections, and see Jeff is alone up ahead. So now my goal is to catch Jeff, and get out of Bill's reach, and site.

Third lap, things are going well, though I'm not very smooth through the barriers or the culvert crossing. I like to think I've got an advantage on the barriers, but I certainly didn't feel it today. Remounts are fine, I'm just not running well. Still Jeff is coming back slowly and I'm still opening on Bill.

Fourth lap. I'm closing on Jeff. Can I get into a fight for third? Through the line with 2 to go, and Jeff is about 20 yards ahead. The last two times through the wet section, he's gone off the line, and had some squirrelly back end going on. I get through once really nice and make some time. This time, though I do almost exactly what he does. Around the grassy 180, my goal is to catch him, then I'll try to attack him like I did to Bill.

Unfortunately, the course bites instead. Once back on the straight, I hear something rubbing my spokes!! I look down, and I've got a course flag wrapped in the lower derailluer pulley! I stop, lean over and pull the wire out. The flag is still wrapped in there, but I've got to get moving! Arghh!!! I get back on, and the bike feels really sluggish. Through the barrier/water crossing, and back on... I've totally lost my rythem. I start to worry about Bill coming back at me, wondering if I can regain my lost ground. It takes me through the second set of barriers to get back to what I think my pace was, but I still feel like I'm dragging a bit. Jeff has opened his gap again, but I'm pretty safe from Bill. I've now got about 100meters to Jeff. Back to work.

Fifth lap. I've got to hold off Bill, and still try to get Jeff. I really haven't done a final lap sprint all season. I either haven't felt good enough, or just forgotten that it's part of the race. With this on the line though, I dig in and start the sprint. Give it all, and see if I can improve my place! It felt really good... It didn't really work, but it was fun.

So, I finished 4th out of 6, 30 seconds behind Jeff and just over a minute up on Bill. I'm a bit disappointed about the flag. After the race, I pulled the plastic out of the derailluer. I probably had those 30 seconds right there. Not that I'd have taken Jeff, but it would have been fun to try.

Brett was running Tufo's also. Being dry, ran his at about 60psi, I ran mine closer to 45... mostly because of the mud puddle and soft grass sections. It turns out Brett rolled his rear when he hopped the rear end on a turn. He started to run it to the pits, and decided he didn't want to run that far, so he force the tire back on the rim, and rode it gingerly to the pits for a wheel change. Probably a good strategy in such an emergency, and one I'll try to remember in case I'm presented with a similar issue. Sitting DFL after the change, he then drilled it and fought back to 11th out of 14 finishers. See his posts at Brett's Blog

Oh well. Next weekend we're back at the farm for the final race of the season and it's supposed to be cold. Really cold.

Monday, November 20, 2006

BA Cyclocross 4 - 2006 The Fields

November 19, 2006

Cleveland weather is made for 'crossers. Saturday was clear and 50. A nice day to work in the yard. Sunday's race day was 40 and wet... the kind of wet that can't decide if it's rain or snow, so it does both... Based on numbers, we are not concerned with the weather. The last two very wet races have still attracted the same, near 70, racers as the dryer dates have had.

So the SnakeBite cyclocrossers arrive at Broadview Heights for round 5 of the Bike Authority series ready for some cold, wet, muddy racing. Pat, Linda, Gary and Rick are racing in the B race. Brett is racing A's and I'm in the master's field.

The Broadview Heights course typically combines some tough grassy sections with some twisted single track and some pavement thrown in for good measure. This year the Lake Effect team put together a super tough course with 2 run ups, made even tougher by the wet weather. The grassy section before the run up was completely unrideable, with many other sections marginally so.

The races start with a short parking lot section leading to the first soccer field circuit that was like mud soup along the first length, then just leg sapping mud across the back and up the other side. A short pavement section led to the next Soccer field circuit that had a couple of good lines, and a couple of bad ones. From the two fields to the gravel decent/bridge/climb combo. At the top across pavement around the baseball fields, over a 6 foot mud transition to the paved basketball course, another 10 foot of mud to the road. The road led to the muddy grass decent with an optional road alternative.

At the bottom of the decent is the quagmire. 40-50 yards of mud that leads to the first brutal run up. The run up is at least 50 foot up a sled hill that is super steep at the top. Once over the run up, a triple switch back section of very wet grass, then onto the pavement. Around a bleacher section, and head back down the sledding hill. There are good lines down the hill, that lead directly to the hill exit, and there are bad lines that lead to slogging to the exit. Once safely down, it's back on the road for a short climb to the second run up. 20 foot up or so, then over a super wet flat section, before a double switchback leads through the finish. A quick slog around the concession stand and we do it all over again.

I did a prelap before the B's went off, and looked for some lines through the current conditions. It looked to me like we'd be running quite a bit. Watching the B racers, it didn't look like much fun out there. Everyone was pretty muddy, completely wet and most looked miserable. Ed Delgros destroyed the field again by over three minutes turning in average lap times that would have put him in third place in the A race.

I figured it was my kind of weather, and my kind of course since I did well last week in similar conditions. Brett and Rick had brought easy-ups for us to warm up under. So trainers out, Brett and I spin while the B's raced. Front row seats. Maybe I should figure out how to attach the cowbell to the trainer so I can save my voice while warming up.

After another prelap with Brett, I decided that the sunglasses were not going to work. Mud was everywhere, and a lot of B's were dropping theirs, so Brett and I both went without. One less thing to worry about.

On the line, 10 A's and 6 Masters. Typical showing for the masters except that series number 3 had gone to Philly on Saturday and wouldn't be in for this mud fest. This is a huge development for me since it moves Bill and I into a fight for the third place, instead of fourth overall. Since they only pay to 3, it means I'm racing for more than "just because"! Off go the A's and a minute later, we're racing.

Across the parking lot, and into first field and the mud, and it's wet spraying everywhere... I couldn't see a thing, except that I was in fifth wheel when Derrick came up on the outside of the course. Glasses, I felt like scuba equipment was in order. I don't use contacts, but I can't see how anyone could possibly wear them in 'cross. I had more junk in my eyes than I ever have. Blech!

Around the far side, and things started to sort out some. As we hit the second field, Derrick faded back, and it was Brent and Rudy are pulling away, Bill and I, then Derrick and Brad. I kept up the pressure as Brent and Rudy opened a gap. Bill was right on me as we went over the bridge to the other half. Derrick and Brad had pretty much dropped off by then.

Bill hung on until the run up, when I got a small gap. Then on the remount, I realized I hadn't shifted my gear to something workable... neither had Bill, and he had more gear grinding trouble getting remounted than I did. He even had to hop off to fix it, and I was away! Except it was during a slogging part of the course. I worked it hard, and came to the decent. Railed away to the second run up.

I had held the gap for a short time, but Bill made his way back to me by the first soccer field. As we hit the second field I tried an attack on the inside line. It worked pretty well, and I got another gap. I tried to drill it down the hill and back up the other side. Once over the top I tried to recover some but still keep up the pressure. Once again. Bill clawed his way back to me.

OK, I'll keep attacking and see what I can do... eventually he will break. Down the hill to the long run. This time I remembered to shift down before the dismount. I had a really hard time with this part of the course. I stayed on the grass and made the left turn into the bog before slowing almost to a stop and dismounting, shouldering the bike and hoofing it. In hindsight, it probably would have been better to hop onto the road next to the grass, and swing the left turn wider to carry some momentum into the run. Second time up the hill, and there is essentially no gap. I'm leading through most of the lap, hoping to put the pressure on. Second time through, and again Bill is on my wheel.

Around the first field again. Bill gets around me, I again attack on the second field and try to get a gap. He digs in and holds on. Over the bridge, back up on top... nothing good. The only gaps I get are small, and they don't stick. I'm working hard over the whole course, it seems like the only way to recover is to slow down... not a good strategy.

Three laps through, 2 to go, and we catch another A racer. One of Bills team mates swaps bikes as we head toward the fields again. Around we go, and both of them are on my wheel. I try again to open a gap, but it's not working well. Over the bridge and to the top, and I try to accelerate instead of recovering. Bills teammate comes around, and I'm able to latch onto his wheel for a few seconds hoping the acceleration will shake Bill... it doesn't. Heading to the basketball court, and I get the mud section a little squirrelly, as I hit the pavement, the bike goes a little sideways, but I somehow pull out of it. Don't know how, but I was real glad my race wasn't over right then.

Down the grass hill, and I try to make it clean. Up the run up, and Bill tries an attack at the top. I stick on his wheel, and head down the hill. Problem is, I'm faster on the decent than he is, so instead of taking us both down, I swing out wide to the left, then have to slog back to the road climb. I follow through the second run up, and he opens a small gap through the switchbacks to the finish. His teammate yells that he's got the gap, and I dig to close around a turn. I'm NOT going to let him go, and I will attack hard on the next run up.

This is the whole race in the final lap. I'm digging in to hold his wheel, and he is slowly opening up a gap. Around the fields, and he's got about 15 yards over the bridge. I need to get back on, over the top, and he's opened it some more. At the top of the run up, it's up to 50 yards. I need to rail this decent and gun it! Sure enough I screw it up, and go wide again. He's starting the second run up as I hit the road. I know it's over when I get to the remount, and he's already around the the first of two switch backs. Nothing to be done now. Shoot.

Well, it was certainly a race. Probably the closest race I've been in since I started this cyclocross madness. I've sprinted for position in the past, but never battled from the line for the complete race. We were pressuring each other the whole way, unfortunately I didn't, or couldn't, take advantage of any of my gaps to finish it long before the last lap.

Missed the mad craziness from the team today. Special thanks to Gary and the Mirandas for their support, but there is nothing like the bell ringing, screaming that we had last weekend. It was harsh weather to be standing around though.

I have to add: I was reading another blog today, and it totally captured this season in cross for me. Nemesis I know that I'm working harder this season than I was last year in the A's... so having someone to chase has been helpful. Still, we're finishing about 2 minutes behind the leaders. So it's not like we're really pressuring them yet. Though this race was a close as we've gotten yet.

Two more races in the series, both in Copley at the farm. Flat course with a bit of twisty single track. The wind comes into play with no shelter. Muddy if it rains, icy if it snows.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

BA Cyclocross 3 - 2006 Cahoon Park (Rose Hill)

November 11, 2006

This week, we're back to the Bike Authority series, at Cahoon Park in Bay Village. If history holds, this should be a decent race for me. My second 'cross race was on this course, and my only taste of victory was here also. Both those races were wet, but not as wet as it was supposed to be this Saturday. Forecast calls for rain and 45-50 degrees.... and they get it right. I've grabbed more clothes than I possibly can need, and more gear as well. I've got 2 bikes, and an extra wheel set, and I've even brought the trainer. Have I become a true racer? I am contemplating warming up on a trainer instead of just riding around for a while?

Rain on the trip in... this IS cyclocross weather. How am I going to handle this? I arrive at about 11:45, the precip has reduced to a light drizzle, if at all. The course is right on the lake so there is still some wind. I get signed in and get to watch the B/C races start. We have the usual suspects +1. Rick, Pat, Linda and Gary are joined in the B race by Norm in from east coast action and Don is out working the C race.

Word is Rick brought the easy-up, but I don't see anything. So I find a protected spot under the concession stand roof with Ernesto and Nate Ziccardi and setup there. It turns out, I didn't bring a road wheel with me, so I throw the backup bike on the trainer, and yell at my teammates as the race goes by the front door.

Results are up at, Norm was our best place finisher in fourth(?) with the rest of the team doing well in dealing with the mud and notorious sledding hill run up/cobble climb combo. Many pained faces were out in the early race.

Sitting on the trainer, I asked Ernesto if he had seen the course yet. He wasn't hip on getting to wet before the race, so was going back and fourth on doing a prelap. I had pretty much made up my mind already, so after 30 minutes on the trainer, and with the last B racers crossing the line, I took the Surly out for a lap. I found the team tent as I pulled out for the prelap. Brett was on his trainer getting ready for the A race... while the rest of the team was changing and getting into the "recovery" drinks.

The Surly is my pit bike, and I really only wanted it there for emergencies. But I also wanted to get a feel for it on the course, so what the heck, it needs a cleaning anyway. First thing I notices was the Ritchey Speedmax tires were over inflated for this muck. Second thing was, I need to look for the course. It was different enough that I lost it a few times, and had to sit up to find the markers. I made it around, and was glad I did the lap, just for a bit of extra confidence. Back at the van, I dropped the pressure in my tires as low as I comfortably could. Threw the Surly and extra wheels in the pit, figured out my clothing and lined up.


On the line, I contemplated leaving the jacket on for the race... except I knew I'd be working hard in a minute, and then overheat. So I threw it off, and went under dressed for a normal road ride, but with hopefully enough for a 50+ minute all out cross race. They sent the A field, and the 6 master's moved to the line. The A race TOOK OFF! The 6 of us were so busy watching the A race leave, and talking about how fast they were going that I forgot we were going at 30 seconds. GO! What? I'm not ready!!!! 30 second send off, is really fast when you don't pay attention!

So I'm sitting in last wheel from the gun. OK, it's fine, there are only 6 of us, and there's nothing super technical until we get to the sledding hill about half way through the course. So I sit on the wheel, all six of us lined out for lap one. Brent on the front followed by 4 Lake Effects, and me. I'm a little nervous, since my goal is to get in front of Bill again today, so I'm hoping this isn't a team tactic.

Around the grass/pavement transitions, there's no changes until we hit the hill. On the run up, I passed 3 of the 4 Lake Effects. Back down the other side, and I'm passed back into fourth. We hit the mud climb before the cobbles, and I cut it just right on the left through the switchback to gain another spot, and I'm third. Well to the top anyway. On the pavement at the top, I'm passed by 2 before the triple barrier, and I'm chasing on the sidewalk. We lost Derrick on the climb, so the race is down to 5 of us.

Down the sidewalk, and up the off camber climb, Brent and Jeff gain a gap when Rudy goes a little wild behind them. Then, somehow Rudy and Bill gain a gap on me going through the fields. I manage to peg the gap, and keep telling myself not to panic. Bill will come off Rudy's wheel soon, and I have to be ready to press whatever technical advantage I can to get back to him then.

It doesn't take long, at the start of the second lap, Bill starts fading back to me. I passed the start finish at 8:25... so I'm chasing Bill doing math. Yes, instead of some rockin tunes, I do math during a race. (What a geek!) Let's see 8+ minute laps... we'll do 6 laps. K... bring back Bill. I managed to catch him on the second sled hill run up. He goes to the left (the preferred side from what I'm told) I go straight up the middle. I must have passed him before the mud hill, though its a bit foggy now. Pressure to the top, and I've got a small gap.

Now I go into the Paris-Roubaix strategy. Apply pressure on the hard parts, and recover on the flat pavement. So the recovery section at the top of the cobble climb before the triple barriers. I caught the guy at the tail of the A race on the sidewalk, (single speed with the wrong gear) and start to work the gap as best as I can. At the top of the off camber climb, I see that I'm gaining on Brett. Either I'm going well, or Brett isn't, cause I shouldn't be making up much time on him at all. So I yell at him to get moving. What else is a team mate supposed to do?

Speaking of team mates. We've got some rabid fans on the team! Got to love getting yelled at every lap. The sound of the horn, the cowbells and the chants! The feel of the Belgian beer tent... sounds and smells, it's a multi sensory extravaganza! All courtesy of the SnakeBite Racing B/C cyclocrossers! We've got a great team for 'cross! Here's mud in your eye... literally!

So, from now on it's status quo. At the line at lap 2 I see the card says 3 to go. 3 to go seems really short, but maybe math while in the red zone isn't such a great idea. So I do more (I know)... 8:15 x 5 is still under 45 minutes, they must not have set the cards yet. Third time up the run up, third time up the ride up, and I'm getting sloppy. Right before I hit the mud ramp, my foot comes out of the pedal, so I don't shift right, and I bog down at the top. I managed to get it moving again on the paved portion, and make it to the top. Scott Thor and Rick Parr are there, and I'm 20 seconds back... from who? The leaders, or the next guy up the road, my race or the A's? Well, I don't know if it matters, my goal is to stay in front of Bill. I think the next three guys are at the next level up, so my bringing them back is not high on the list of possibilities until I can see one of them up the road.

Through the barriers, and I see Bill just emerge at the top of the climb. NEW GOAL! Idon't want to see him there next lap. On the off camber climb, Brett is still right there. So I yell at him again! Maybe I can catch Brett! Through the line, and I see they've reduced it to 2 laps... so I ask as I go through... 2? They say yes.... OK, start to pick it up then. This is going to be a short race.

Through the run up and the mud ramp again. Not much better, I've got to get this working to maintain my gap! Through the barriers, and I don't see Bill... this should work! At the off camber, Brett is still right there. So this is good, I'm maintaining Brett's pace. Hopefully that will push him a bit also. I don't bother yelling this time. Twice is enough. One lap to go.

Bill is pretty far back, but I don't want to screw this up. So maintain a good pace, key on maintaining pressure. The run up is fine, but the mud ramp is a mess. I end up coming off the bike 3/4 up the hill and running it. Well that won't help! Once off the bike, there's no place to remount until the top of the pavement, so I ran the whole way up. Remount and try to push at the top... but I still need to recover! So recover it is, then I'll push like every other lap. Through the barriers, and Bill is still out of sight. Nice! Going down the sidewalk, I can see Bill running up the mud hill, that's a good sign for me.

This time, I can't see Brett at the top of the off camber. I guess I lost some serious time on that last running of the climb. Well, I'll just hold it and be fine. No panic, no more mistakes. Verify that this is the end and I'm through in 4th. Best finish yet.

Overall a "good day" on last weeks scale Orrville 2006, I beat Bill who I'd like to stay competitive with. Once the race was done, I instantly started to get cold. Dry clothes helped, but I was dreaming of a cup of something hot and a warm fire. So that's the night plan... and some pizza to make it complete.

Special thanks to Gary for this weeks pics. It doesn't matter how good you are, as long as you look good doing it. Well, I guess in 'cross, at least in my case, as long as you make it look like it hurts... Though, I really felt better today, than I have all season.

There's other stories on the day out there.
Scott Thor had a similar race time as mine, so I'm hoping the form is coming around again after losing 3 minutes on him in Orrville last week.

It sounds like Ernesto should have gone out on a prelap, since he made a wrong turn on the first lap, and had to chase because of it

Props again to the team mates for making the cross scene complete. They're out there after their race, screaming for us. The Belgian Ale may help... "BEER IS GOOD!" I even got props from some of the other racers. It's nice to have some fans!

Next week, the fields of Broadview Heights. How wet will it be? How much single track will we see?

Monday, November 06, 2006

Beaver Valley CX

In case you're interested in the Beaver Valley CX race... that I missed... here's a write up.

Orrville Cyclocross #2 - 2006

November 5, 2006

Being the parent of teenagers teaches flexibility. My intent was to do the Raccoon Township Cyclocross race near Pittsburgh. I've heard great things about the course. The down side is the 2 hour drive each way, so when things go a little... uh... wobbly at home, it was easy to start questioning spending 4 hours driving to do an hour (or two if I could jump into two race) of painful cyclocross.

So, by Saturday evening I was already planning on returning to the Orrville cyclocross race. I'd done it two years ago, and the course is nice. It'll cut the drive time in half, but they start much later with the A race going at 3:15, I wouldn't get home before 5:30, and realistically, it would be closer to 6.... what a waffle day. By 10:30 Sunday morning, I'd decide I was going to drive to Orrville, and do the B race. With my passport stamped, I'm on the road to Orrville by 12:00 for the 2:15 start. I couldn't make last weeks Orrville race, so with no racing for two weeks, and little training, I'm "well rested" for this race. Well, I'm not over trained anyway.

The course had few changes since I'd last been here. A barrier before a short hill run up. Right down the other side, and you enter the twisty single track. There's three bridge crossings, and then a barrier/creek crossing/ run up combo before the sidewalk/pavement leading back into a stiff headwind field. Back into more single track, and another field crossing to complete the course.

I arrived at about 1:00 and start putting it all together. Last weeks report was a wet course, so I put the Michelin Muds on and take a lap with Pat Miranda. It's dried out a lot, so I switch to the Tufos and get in another warm up lap a bit faster with Dave Steiner. About half way through the first single track section, I shifted to my 48 big ring and tried that out for the remainder of the lap. I think this will work.

Both warm up laps were at a quick, but not race pace. I then saw that it was after 2, so I jumped on the road and did a big effort to get the heart rate up, and spun around the block hard. Then jumped onto the course to try a fast lap.... but bailed before the second single track section, thinking I might miss the start. That would be bad.

We line up where everyone thinks we should, and I'm in the second line. Rudy Sroka is in the B's, as well as John Lorson, so I'm expecting a fast race. Ryan Wayne and Scott Thor are the fast B's I've seen around so I'm watching them also. Before the start, we're moved, and lined up in one line. 18 men, and 3 women.... they announce payout to 5 places, with cash to the top women and we're off.


There was a crash on the first bridge of the C race, so I decide I want the hole shot for this one. A slight uphill sprint to the barrier/run up combo. At the bell, an Orrville rider takes off, and I'm third behind Ryan Wayne to the barrier. Big ring seems to be working well, and there's a bit of a gap going into the single track. The first guy over is opening up a huge gap in no time, I'm staying close to Ryan, third I can handle... but I'm hearing people on my wheel. Over the second bridge, and Rudy passes me with John Lorson... fifth, last payout. Scott Thor comes around me before the next bridge. Sixth... ugh, this is hard.

Through the barrier creek crossing, and the gaps are opening. These guys are flying! Into the headwind, and another Orrville guy comes around right before the next single track section... then bobbles it and the gap opens more. I can sit on this guys wheel, or give him a little space so if he goes down, I won't get tangled up. So I back down a bit.... that's it, he takes off and now I have to work to close it down... all in the first lap!

This isn't going the way I want it to, but I'm thinking some of these guys will be back soon. I decide to go back to the small ring, cause I'm in the upper end of my cassette. Lap two, Dave and Rick Parr are battling behind me. I've got to keep them off... and the group of 5 chasers are within reach. The first guy is flying and well away.

Into the uphill field... this thing is deadly! I feel like I'm pedaling though peanut butter though it's mostly solid ground. To the barrier, and I hear Dave lifting the bike over, but I opened a gap on him into the single track.... the whole way around, Dave works to close the gap down. I'm opening it through the single track, he closes on the open sections. We go through the line at 13:03... already 45 seconds+ down on the lead rider in 2 laps.

Again, I hit the field, and am bogged down. I hear Dave lift the barrier and I get into the single track with a gap. As we get close to the creek crossing, we start closing on a lapped rider. He stops at the barrier, as we're coming up with speed. He gets off and runs the creek, and I'm coming up fast near the left edge... I probably should have yelled at him that I was passing... and sure enough he moves toward me, and I bang him or his bike with mine as we get to the top.... Urgh!!! Hop back on, and commence my chase. I can just see Scott making the turn as we remount.

Dave is back on my wheel, and comes around into the headwind... fine, I'll sit on and recover. As we head into the single track, I again get this fear of tangling bikes and back off a little bit... and Dave opens his gap. Now I'm just demoralized, I try to get back on Dave's wheel, and my gears start skipping.... through 4 laps at 27:30 or so... 2:15 down on the leader in 4 laps.

Skipping gears! Did I whack my dérailleur? Was it doing this before I passed that guy? I don't remember, I just need to get back to Dave, then see about bringing Scott back. 27 minutes, 2 maybe three more laps to go... I'm dying here. No one is behind me that I can see... so it's just catch Dave. But I'm going backwards.

All right, I backed it down and did a little recovery... don't panic, just work. So it's about here that I figure out how to take the tighter twists in the single track with speed (a little late).

With two to go, I start to ramp up my pace again, but I don't have enough motor for it to make much difference. Scott is gone, and the gap to Dave is opening. I come through for the bell lap, and noted that they ring the bell every time a rider comes through. There's probably 30+ seconds to Dave... and I get over the barrier before I hear the bell behind me... so I've got 8th unless my wheels come completely off. Can I catch Dave?

I dig completely in and try to do everything I can... but Dave is still opening up on me . He's over the creek before I enter that section, and on his way to the finish field before I get to the last single track section... I finished at 50:10... 4:45 behind the winner, and almost 3 minutes behind Scott Thor.


With this course, I probably should have switched to the single ring setup. A 42 would have been about perfect for the flat course. Next week, we're doing the hilly course that pushed me away from the single ring on my first CX season, so I'm not sure that I'll do the switch yet.

Racing against in a different field with new people was fun, though I don't feel I was really on today. So as I cross the finish line, Dave asks me if I had a good day, or a bad day, so he can judge where he was.... being he's been doing the BA A races, and was doing the same thing I was.

It occurs to me... how do I define a good day in cyclocross? You certainly can't go by how you feel. The adage is "It doesn't get any easier as you progress through the ranks, you still suffer the same, you just go faster doing it." So... what's a good day?
  1. Extraordinary/Fantastic day! - If I win... it's only happened once... and my legs felt no different than any other week, so this is not a thoroughly tested data point.
  2. Really good day - If I finish in front of people that I think should beat me, even if it's cause they were hung over, or had a "bad day".
  3. Good day - If I finish in front of people that I think that I'm supposed to be competitive with.
  4. OK day - If I finish where I expected, well it could be an OK day, or a bad day.... depending on my perception on my ability to have done better.
  5. Bad day - Anything else.
So on this scale, I had a bad day. Since at the line I expected to be able to easily (in the standard CX definition) crack the top 5. It doesn't matter if the other people had a good day, or not. If the course suited them or not.... I must have had a bad day, cause I got beat. If it wasn't a bad leg day, then it's a bad day cause I couldn't respond to their move, or I couldn't close their gap. Dave can use this scale also... so by this scale, he had a good day or a real good day depending on how he perceives beating me.

Looks to me like I've got to find a way to get the training back in order before next weeks race. I've also got work to do on my pre-race prep, and I may be replacing a cassette. Fortunately I really like next weeks course. I'm hoping for a really good day.

Special thanks to Katie for the pic.