Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Off Season!

If it's the "off season", how come I seem to be busier now than normal? Hibernation maybe? It seems I've been eating enough to increase my energy stores... actually, I've been trying to get the rest of life back on track, trying to get ready for the holidays and such.

Imagine my surprise when I saw this article about MIT students power supercomputer with bicycles. The article isn't too technical, it's very readable and short. They effectively are running almost 700 computers (specially packaged to use very little power) with 10 cyclists on trainers. Each cyclist only needs to generate about 120 watts for 20 minutes at a time.

I'm a experienced double counter... I counted some of my undergrad classes toward my graduate degree. I commute to work to use travel time as training time... and I'm currently using my work time toward my next degree.... I figure this might be a way for me triple count that! I can ride my trainer to get my work outs in and be getting work done that also counts to my degree!

How many hours of computing will I need? Long, slow distance! Maybe I can hook up a monitor to help my motivation! 20,000,000 more calculations in this set! Can I recruit some riders to help me out? I can do anything with enough time and/or money... now to figure out how to double count my bank account. I wonder how much this computer would cost me?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Boughton Farm #2 - 12/9/2007

The last race of the year, ahhh yes. Another season draws to a close. Typical for the last week, I'm on rivet between family and finals. The weather isn't cooperating either, so I need to take even more time to get on the trainer. All part of my life though.

Last week we expected epic conditions, and didn't get them exactly. There was mud though... This week, we've had snow, and cold... the forecast calls for slightly warmer temperatures... and freezing rain. This week should be epic.

I'm really hoping to put in a good performance to finish out the season. This is all about today, since the series places are pretty well set. I'm sitting in third place in the A Master's series, and since they are not awarding double points for the final this year, I don't think there are enough points available for Bill to make up the 8 points to catch me. Derrick is 21 points ahead of me... so as long as I finish the race, the places will stay static... unless a lot of new Master's decide to race A and come between us. Not very likely with this weather.

The Course

View Larger Map

The course is very similar to last week. Same first field crossing around the cabbage patch. Then loop back for one barrier crossing before hitting a lot of the same wooded sections backwards. Around the long field, and after the short woods, we head out toward a long road section. Back around the barns and through the start finish. 2.2 miles again, with lots of snow and mud.

I did pretty well getting to the farm early enough to get ready and get some laps in. I took the pit bike around twice, and found things reasonable... lots of icy turns would be interesting, there were many snow free sections, and the woods were pretty muddy. I fully expected the course to deteriorate by the time my race started.

The B's started and near the end the rain started. I got some trainer warm up, but wanted to take the race bike around to see how the tubbies would hook up. I got one lap in and was bounced around pretty thoroughly in the cabbage field. I let some more air out of the tires and was probably running between 25 and 30. I finished the lap, and went to change into some dry/race clothes. I would have liked to take another lap on the muds, but only had time for another trip around the cabbage field. I switched back to the tubbies, and was still caught out when they started lining up for the start.

Right before the race, Rudy asked a few of us how many laps we wanted to do. The B's had done 3 laps, and I thought it would be sporting if we did one more than they did... I seem to remember this happening in the past, probably the last race of the season last year. At the start, Rudy then blames me for distance... HEY!

The Race

I wasn't the last one to the line, but I was on the second row. 21 crazies lined up for what we all agreed would be a stupid race.

This week I decided to run the start, instead of riding. On the wistle the run didn't help much, but it put me into the top half of the field. As we made the first traversal of the cabbage patch, I was bounced all over the place! I'd done this thing four times in warm up, but could not get a clean line... and was loosing places like crazy. Especially when the bike went sideways and I was pitched off the trail and into the cabbage! Horrendous! I was swearing like a sailor as I saw the front bunch of guys just ride away... and I nearly took out Ernesto in the process.

I make the next turn, and try to find the lines I like.... Ernie totally yard sales it before the next set of turns. So I'm by him, and I start to pick up some places where it's not icy. I'm fine until we get through the two rises leading back to the cabbage patch field, and again... I flail. Ernesto squeezes through a gap that I thought was tight heading into the barriers. I ended up leaning in on him again, that guy was solid though and we both made it upright. I've never leaned that hard before.. I'm glad I didn't screw him up again... I'm he was motivated to stay away from me for a while.

Once away from the cabbage, I started to get a rhythm. I was through the woods alright, and drilling it past as many people as possible on the straight sections. I need to go really hard every chance I can to make up the space I lost on the start. I'm still really far back... though I have no idea how far.

Through the start/finish I hit the cabbage patch again, thinking I'm on my own, I have to do better than last lap when I was in traffic... but I don't. It's terrible again. Steiner and Quinlin come by me at the edge of the field. Dave says "RIDE YOUR DAMN BIKE! I've caught you now..." as they put in a small gap. I make the turn and then totally sprawl out on the next icy section. I'm flailing, and I know it. So, I need to adjust my tactics.

Into chase mode! The gap is large, but I can't let them go. I'm closeing slowly through the woods. Quinlin is having trouble in the woods, and I get by him before the last section. I catch Dave as Chip Meeks is passing him heading into in the last section, and I get both of them before the exit and then drill it through the mud corner and up the muddy rise to put in the gap. Ahead of me is Derrick, Rudy and Bill... in that order. Bill is about 500meters up the road. Woah! I've been behind Rudy every race this year, but Derrick and Bill have never been in front of me after the first lap. I've got some work to do now.

I hit the road, I need to get to Derrick... I close, the gap down to about 100 meters as we head into the cabbage patch again. Now it's a defensive rideto not loose anything more. I make it through reasonably well. Not great, but I don't loose the distance like the other two laps. Once away from my bad spots, I work to close the gap down some more. Through the woods and on the road, I close the gap down a bit.

As I'm coming through the finish, Brent is running his bike and his chain is dangling. That's going to change the order. I need to catch Derrick! Brent is close behind as I start the last pass on the cabbage patch... and I blow it again and end up in the muck, and Derrick opens the gap some more. ARRRGGHH!! I close some heading to the woods, but I screw up through some of the sections. Brent catches and leaves Derrick, I have little time left. Leave it all out here!

Some quick calculating says I'm REALLY glad they aren't doing double points, I'm still committed to catching Derrick. I'm still sprinting as well as I can after this effort, and the gap is coming down....but not fast enough. I know it's over when he beats me to the end of the road section. I just didn't ride the course clean enough to make up any more spots.

Post Race
Congrats to Bill who won the A Master's race. It's been a while since he won. Before the race, he joked that we should just run this course and leave the bikes behind. My reply was that he'd beat me for sure in a running race, and so it was. After the race, he said he ran a good portion of the cabbage patch crossing every lap... maybe I should have run more.

Brent was able to race past his chain problems. He ended up catching Rudy and pulling him away from Derrick and I. In the end they went shoulder to shoulder at the end of the road section with Brent taking second, Rudy third. Derrick was fourth and I was fifth. I ended up thirteenth overall, my worst finish this season... and yet, probably the best race effort I've done. The cabbage patch was my demise, I lost everything there and even though I raced very well everywhere else, I could not get out of the hole I dug in the patch in 3 of the 4 laps.

Epic for sure. Though I didn't really see it, the rain didn't let up all race. I rolled around a little after the race, then had a really hard time getting into dry clothes. 30+ degrees and rainy. That is 'cross weather, I hope the NATZ don't see this stuff, but our guys will be ready after today's battles.

That's it for my season. Overall I'm pretty happy with the year. I didn't get the cross results I was hoping for, but I learned a lot about racing. I'm looking forward to putting all this together next year.

Special thanks to the Lake Effect guys for another great series. The courses were well done again, and it's always fun. Thanks also my team mates for sticking around and cheering, screaming and flogging me this year. Gary and Rick both have pics up for this week. Snow and Mud. YEAH!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Boughton Farm #1 - 12/2/2007

After last weekends mudfest, the weather promised more of the same at Boughton Farm this weekend. Freezing rain on Saturday night, leading to rain forecast all day on Sunday. It could be a real Portland, OR mud soup race, no telling with this venue. In the past, the farm has delivered both wet bogs, and fast dry hardpack... both in the same year.

This week, I've tried a new approach to course description. If a picture tells 1000 words, this may be a short report. MapMyRide profile and hitting the Satellite view. I'll poke around and see if I can find a better solution for this next week... if I have time.

Lots of long stretches of wet grass, or wet mud, Soft mud and dryer mud and even wet sandy mud in some corners, then a long twisty wooded section with lots of peanut butter mud leading to two very compact barrier sets (through wet mud) before the sloppy slippery start finish. Total length is about 2.2+miles.... long laps for sure. Did I mention mud?

Car trouble this week, so I overloaded Don's new SUV with more stuff than I would need. Plus it got Don out to the race, maybe I'd have some pit help.... We arrived early so I could do some prelaps to check out the course. I was able to get three in before the B race, spent some trainer time, then took the race bike out to see how the new tubbies would do on in the mud. Another learning experience, so now I can get lower pressure, but I still need to learn how to dial that in.

It was fun to listen to most of the A race guys say they weren't going to preride the course. It was pretty well marked, but I was still glad I'd seen it all.

Normal faces on the start, 13 A's and 6 masters. I predicted it would be fast, since it was so wide open. I lined up on front row since there was a space that needed filling, and we were off.

Again, the runners did a good job getting off the line, and I didn't. Brent, Brett and Dave all ran ahead of me before the first turn, which had more guys getting in front of me before I wound everything up. It was a reasonable start but not great, I picked off a few spots and I was about 8th at the end of the first field crossing. Not happy, but sitting on a Lake Effect Wheel. I didn't know who, but I'm hoping it was Rudy. Then Jeff Craft came by me in the grass section heading to the next field length. I wanted to answer that, but hesitated... I don't know why, I just didn't go.

I was well on my way to having my typical "5 guys come by me" when Zak came around, I just said "NO" and jumped on his wheel, leaving my Lake Effect guy (Bill) behind. I did my best to hold onto Zak's wheel, and though a gap opened it was a slow opening, and the gap behind me seemed to be opening faster. Coming into the last field I had about 50 meters to the next group of Rudy, Matt, Jeff, Brent, Ross and Zak. Steve Twinning and Shawn Adams had already opened up a pretty large gap that totally surprised me, but I figured I could work to close the gap to the next group.

The gap was reasonably constant as we made our way into the woods for the first time. Some how Brent and Matt got tangled up, and I closed my gap to them while they sorted it out. Jeff, Rudy, Ross and Zak now had a nice gap... then Matt and Brent, with me dangling a few meters back. In and out of the twisty wood sections, I maintained my gap, closing a bit here, opening a bit there, until I hooked some vines on the left shifter exiting one of the wood sections, bringing the bike to a quick halt. I pushed, and it wouldn't let go, so I pushed again... nothing. I was getting ready to panic... this would let the gap to Brent and Matt open up. So I pushed really hard and got it free, but I lost precious seconds, and indeed the gap had at least doubled in size.

I'm not even a lap in, and I'm letting that front group go. Coming through the second barrier set right before the finish, I totally misjudge the remount, and land with the seat in my stomach. Somewhere someone has to have a photo of that. In my shame, there was a guy right there with a lens point at me.... oh the humanity.

I make it through to the long field, with a reasonable gap behind me, so I must have gone to sleep for a bit. When I go to the top of the rise in the long field, the gap to Brent and Matt is huge! They've recaught Jeff, Rudy, Ross and Zak. I decide I need to start really working again, and see what I can do.

Matt must have had some trouble, either a bad lap, or dropped another corner, because I can see him when I get to the woods. I just decide that I am going to use the single track to bring him back. Every section clean, and I'm closing the gap. Heading through the first barriers, Ross is coming back fast, he drops his bike and runs to the pit. There's another spot for me. One of the spectator yells that I'm eight heading to the next lap.

As we come through the start/finish the team cheering section erupts, as I'm only 10m behind Matt. I make the catch around the barns, and attack as we start the next field cross, and get a gap. Now to work! This is how I want to be racing cross!

I've taken care of Matt, now I need to catch the next guy. Zak is in my sites. Jeff, Rudy and Brent are working together ahead of him. So how am I going to get to Zak? Matt is falling further behind, and I drop him from my focus to concentrate on the race ahead of me as I hit the mud climb towards the woods for the third time.

Then my own small disaster. The tubbies are a bit slippery, and I'm still figuring out how they drift in the corners. I slid the bike out on one of the twisty sections heading into the woods, and the chain came off the front ring on the outside. I was still pedaling, so it got wrapped around the crank... I hopped back on quickly, but I couldn't get the chain engaged, so I stopped and had to hop off the bike to take it off, straighten it out, and put it back on. 20seconds standing on the trail plus the time of the wreck and figuring out what to do let Matt catch me and pass me and put in a small gap.

I get the bike working again. So now I have to go catch Matt again. I've done it once, I will do it again. Race! I'm clean through the remainder of the woods, and close it down a bit. Through the large field the gap is closing, I end up catching Matt in the grass field, and attack him again. I get a little gap, but this time he responds and closes it down. He tried to come around me heading to the woods crossing before the long field, but I want to lead through the mud in that field crossing, so I attack him again to get the lead I want. I'm holding it until the rise on the long end, when he comes around me. He gets the gap and leads it through the small wooded section. I don't want to give this spot up though, so I attack him again on the grass and get the lead heading back to the woods.

On the rise going back toward the woods, Matt comes around me again and gets a gap. I cannot let this open, I'm going to have to work though, because he is motoring. I'm hoping for a clean ride through the woods to get back to him. In the woods, Zak is also coming back to us. This is good, maybe I can get them both.

The gap seems manageable heading through the finish to start the last lap. Time to get to work, but I must have fallen asleep again. By the time I get to the top of the rise in the long field, Matt has opened a hug gap again. I'm again stunned at how fast that opened up. I was totally committed to my effort, and was found wanting.

I still buckled down, since I did not want anyone else to catch me, and it was still possible to capitalize on a mistake. Plus you have to finish hard. It's CYCLOCROSS! Though in the end, Matt closed to with 5 seconds of Zak, while I was more than a minute down on Matt. Still good enough for 4th in the Master's field, and 8th overall.

Post Race
Overall I'm very happy that I was actually racing this week. I probably lost a minute or more to getting tangled up in the brush on lap 1, and the wreck/mechanical issue in the woods in lap 3. Still that led to one of the most fun laps I've had all year going head to head with Matt. I must have had a bad line in the long field, because I lost so much time there twice, once to the chase group of 6 on lap 2, and once to Matt and Zak on lap 5. It also had to be the main contributor to my 3 minute gap to the front three in the Master's field. I guess I need to find another level to get up to those goes next week.

I again have to give props to the SBR team for hanging out after the B race and cheering us on. Rick is well on his way to second place in the B master's field. Gary put in a stellar effort (his kind of course this week) for another 9th place to solidify his sixth place B standing. Sadie worked her race for the first female C, and she picked up my glasses when they became more trouble than they were worth. Also in the A race, Dave had an epic battle with Eric Lesko... and like me came up on the short end. Still it's more fun than racing alone.

Special thanks for Donny's appearance. Beside giving me first chance to Mud the interior of his new SUV, I love having Donny at the CX race. SBR has the best CX cheering section I've seen when our B racers hang out and scream for the A's... but I have to say that Donny takes the game up at least one if not two notches. I could hear him screaming for me through the stadium horn at the furthest reaches of the course. I'm sure it was getting to Matt having all those guys screaming for me throughout the course.

Dave turned out some good shots of the B race in support of them before his race. It's tough to get ready for your race, and still support the troops... and yes, that's a picture of Shrek. Don took some more shots on Rick's camera, we have no idea where they'll be posted yet. Gary did another stand up job in the photog role of catching the mud that we saw in the As.

The tubbies were nice, but I'm not sure they were the best choice in the mud. I still need to get the feel for them, and determine how much pressure to run. I get another chance to test tire selection next week, because we return to the farm for the season finale. Temperatures have fallen, snow is on the ground with more promised over the week... and the forecast for race day is exactly the same as for this race. Second verse, same as the first.

Monday, November 26, 2007

The Fields in Broadview Heights (part 2) - 11/24/2007

Week 2 of the Fields in the Bike Authority CX series. This week we had lots of wet, and even some snow on Thursday and Friday. It's tough to predict who will show on Thanksgiving Weekend, since some of the regulars are traveling for the family, and new faces show up for the same reason.

I've got some extra help today, as an Uncle of ours is in town. With no other plans, and an invite, he decides to come spectate and see what kind of crazy stuff I call fun... and he brings my kids out with him. It's good for the kids too, because they don't have to stay at the race as long as I do. They show up 15 minutes before the start and can leave right after the finish. So I hand off the cowbell to them, give my Uncle the briefing on how to cheer for a cross race, and head to the line.

The Course
Typically, the course is reversed for the second week with some minor modifications. The start was moved to the finish location, slightly uphill around one of the soccer fields and straight into the woods. The Cannondale C descent is gone, and replaced with the gravel descent to the bridge crossing, followed by the climb to the far fields. We went down the bigger run from last week, and then a road climb back to the start/finish level. Around two soccer fields and switchback gets us to the start finish again. 2.1 miles of sloppy 'cross.

The forecast called for 45 and partly to mostly cloudy. That wasn't the main concern today though, the snow/wet course conditions would dominate regardless of air temps. I managed 2+ laps of warmup before the early race was finished, totally changing the course conditions. Sat on the trainer for a bit, then took the race bike out for another couple of laps to see the changes. The woods were pretty greasy, and there was more than one super soggy field crossing that promised to sap the life out of the legs.

The Race
17 A's and 5 Masters were lined up. Mostly the regulars with 3 or 4 I didn't recognize. After watching the B race start, Dave and I were contemplating running the start. It seemed the B's that ran got moving faster than the riders. I, of course, knew that I was good enough to ride the start well, so chose that. Dave decided to run it. The race is announced to be 5 laps... short since the B race was 4 laps in 37minutes. But with the State Championship on Sunday, and the conditions, no one really complained. A few even started to lobby for 4 laps.

On the whistle it was obvious that I really have no clue how to race, as my start totally sucked. Lynn gave a 5 count, some people were rolling at 1, and I got clipped in slowly and then couldn't get moving. So the end result, I'm 15th or so by the top of the rise, and have some work to do. Dave ran (good thinking) and was first to the top of the rise, but then stalled badly on the remount, and I was in front of him before he really got moving. In the end, neither of us did a very good start.

I managed to make up a few spots heading into the woods, and then a few more by taking aggressive lines, and being technically clean through the single track. Once out of the woods, bomb the bridge, and I found a nice path through the upper field. My lines on the descent worked well, and I'm in the south field feeling pretty good. Sitting in 8th, with a group of 6 well ahead, then a gap to Rudy and another gap to me. I can work with this in spite of my start.

At the far end of the field, I get caught by the first chaser... and he's flying. As he comes by me he asks if the guy ahead is in the lead. I assume he means Rudy, because the others are already 300m ahead of us, and not directly in sight. I let him know there are 6 more ahead of him as he rides away.

Quinlin catches and passes me before the start finish...I respond on the driest edge of the course, but it's tough to follow that motor, especially when the conditions get heavy again. I'm hoping to bring him back in the woods, but he opens quite the gap. Still feeling good, but others are gaining.

Zak and Weeks catch (and pass) me at the top of the climb on the far field. I'm doing pretty well at holding this gap steady at about 30seconds through out the remainder of the lap. Closing a little through the woods, I do get to see Zak take a nice line through the wettest part of upper field, and I follow that. Ray is now 30seconds back.

I've got a nice line going on the big descent, and I want to close a little to Zak and Matt there. But I screw it up at the top, and the bike comes out from under me... I slide about 15 feet, still clipped to the bike. I hop back on quickly enough, but the chain is off the front ring.... since I don't have a derailluer, I fumble on what to do. In the heat of racing it was like I was dumb founded that I didn't have a front der! So I do the descent without pedaling.... ARGGGHHH!!! At the bottom before the road, I realize I can reach down with my hand and get the chain back on... I'm away, but Ray makes the catch on the road climb.

We head into the south field, and at the far corner, he starts to bobble a bit. So I suggest he let the bike float more, don't fight it through the muck so much. It seems to work for him, as he opens a slight gap on the northbound leg... the worst section of the whole course for me. As the gap starts, he says, "See you in the woods." I do my best to hold on, and sure enough, I close a pretty decent gap in the woods, and open my own before we hit the bridge descent. Not enough, because Ray is on my wheel at the top of the hill. He gives it full gas on the pavement to open some, and I use my line through the muck to close and pass him again. He's got a bit more motor, but I'm technically much better...

As we hit the pavement, heading toward the descent, Ray comes around me again, and I warn him to watch the turn at the top of the hill... the one that I washed out on last lap. He puts in a little gap, as I take the cautious approach to line the descent up instead of lay down again. Cleanly through, I drop the descent.

Ray's line takes him pretty far to my left, as I straighten the whole thing out to carry as much momentum into the road climb as possible. I end up right next to him going through the fence, and calmly say "turn". Since he's on my left, and it's a left hander, we're moving closer together... and he's still not turning. As we hop the curb onto the street, more emphatically now "Turn." as we start to slow down. But he's still going straight... I'm now standing on the brakes, heading straight toward the curb on the other side of the road... leaning on Ray I tell him to "TURN DAMN IT!" as I come to a complete stop and hit the curb... he finally turns and takes off up the hill.

Great! Now I'm loosing gobs of time to Zak and Matt. From a dead stop, I drill it up the hill and catch Ray, but it takes a lot out of me... and I need a little recovery on the south field... the bad one. So the gap opens again, and Derrick is now at about 30 seconds back.

Derrick is actually in my race, and though I'm sitting 13th overall, I'm in second in the master's race. I must do everything I can to hold Derrick off... so I go to racing from behind. I fully expect to bring Ray back in the woods, but it's a change of focus that kills me now. I'm pissed off that Ray took me to the curb not only because it makes it that much harder to get my places back, but also because it now changes how I'm racing.

Into the woods, for the 4th time. I close a little on Ray, but I'm sure the sight of me has recharged Derrick as he's closing a little bit on me. 2 laps to go, I tell myself to just stay clean and I can hold him off. I start to run the uphill wooded sections, and it's a bit faster. Ray does well to hold a gap coming out of the woods. Zak and Matt are gone. So it's catch Ray, and hold off Derrick, and I'm mostly worried about Derrick.

With one to go, I need to open the gap more, so it's all out. The woods help, and I hold it over the top. I have plenty of space behind and Ray holds it in front, though I drive it hard all the way to the end.


Spectating at the race was fantastic, so my Uncle got a good feel for how cool the cross scene is. I ended up loaning my helmet to Mason for the B race. He came up from Columbus, and he repaid in spades with his buddy, by being the rabid fan, screaming at us as we came out of the woods. Very nice. Even my kids outdid themselves by screaming for me regulary through out the race. Best cheering they've ever done.

Gary has some great shots up again at his flickr account. Probably the best I've seen of my mud covered self. And yes, those spokes are solid ice, as was the bottom two rings of my cassette... I could shift there for anything on the last lap.

Not a bad race to get 13th out of 22, 2nd masters on the day. But I'm still not totally happy with everything. I need to figure out how I can do so well at the start of the race, then let so many people come around me. It's been pretty consistent that I let 5 places go by the half way mark. It wouldn't be so bad if there were 50 in the field, but with 20-30, that's a significant portion of the field.

A poor start and washing out at the top of the descent didn't help my results. I should have listened to Dave on the start, and a bit less tire pressure may have helped the handling all over the course. I was running the Tufos again. I'd put some slime in the front to repair the flat from last week. I got it to hold air, but I'd had to release some and I think some latex got into the valve stem. I got it all sealed up before the race started, but left in a little extra air because it was making me nervous. I also need to figure out how to get the speed up in the heavy stuff like the south field. I'm great at holding my momentum up through the shorter sections, but the northbound section did a number on me.

... and I may have hurt Ray's feelings during the race... afterwards he said he didn't turn cause I was yelling at him. So, I guess I should just keep my mouth shut, and ride my own race.

I'm still looking to put everything together. Two more to go... Boughton Farms for the last two of the season. Here hoping for reasonably technical conditions. 10 day forecast calls for wet weather, and snow on race day. Woo!!!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Fields in Broadview Heights - 11/18/2007

The Bike Authority series continues this week, after a month of racing at other locations, we're back to the Fields in Broadview Heights. Team Lake Effect has again put together a nice course here. 40 and partly cloudy meant there were clothing challenges, and the wet turf meant it would be cyclocross not a grass crit on this day.

The start was about 50 meters from the bottom of the major hill. During warm up it was ridable, but I figure after the early races, it would be a run up for most of us. Pavement at the top, lead to a tight turn transition to grass, around the edge of a field, back to pavement leading to the "Cannondale C" decent, and nice, sweeping left hander that would be no problem except that it was on the hill that we just ran up, and the grass was wet, so caution was in order.

A loop around the lower field, switchback into the short run up. Into a pair of sweeping 180s, then through the finish line, and straight into the woods. There were two log crossings. One was ridable, one was barely ridable, most (escept the mountain bikers) were running it. Lots of twisty bits in the woods, but much wider than single track. Once out of the woods, we went around and between the next two soccer fields, one switchback before the log/parking lot transition, and around another soccer field, back to the parking lot. Then a nice fast paved downhill with a curb hop to get back to the start location.

I got there super early, and had enough time to do some warm up laps before the first race went off. Rain during the week had made the usual places squishy, though it seemed some drainage work was done since last year where some typically bad locations were much dryer this time around. There were still plenty of mucky spots. I sat on the trainer while the B race went off to make sure I was warm enough, then took the race bike around a couple more laps to see how the course had held up to the pounding, and check my tire selection and pressure.

At the Spin race, I'd gone with the Michelin Muds and been pretty unhappy with the whole race. This week, I wanted to go with the Tufos but was concerned how they'd handle the squishy stuff. A couple of laps had me confident that I would only have to watch a thick, soft, uphill spot in the woods, everything else seemed alright, including the wet corners of some of the field traverses. I like the Tufos when they run well, so I figured I'd give it a go, and just be ready for the two wheel float through some of the tricker sections and corners.

With 21 A's and 7 masters, we had one of the larger A fields. We lined up 3 deep and about 15 wide. With the run up this close, I figured a good start was the best strategy... I got onto the front row and we're off.

Not the best start, but not to bad, I'm in 10th or so at the top. The typical guys are at the front, Ernesto, Shawn, Twinning and Paul Martin. Over the upper field crossings, I move into 8th or 9th with someone on my wheel... not sure who it was now, but Brent and Noah Metzler are just a little bit ahead. We make the C descent, and this is where the two wheel slide comes into play... as soon as the tires let go, release the brakes, and let it fly.... much better than last weekend.

I'm feeling pretty good, not full on heart rate, so I give it another push. Around the second run up, and I pass Rudy... sitting second in the Master's field now. At the top, I drive some more... still a small gap to Brent and Noah as we head into the woods, and I'm told I'm in 7th with Ross on my wheel. He's a better mountain biker than I am, but even with him riding and me running the log, he wasn't coming around, and we closed the gap to Brent and Noah. I got around Noah at the squishy part, and then finished the woods on Brent's wheel. Something must have happened to Ross in the woods, cause by the time we got into the fields it was Brent, Noah and I... and I'm feeling good.

Second lap, up the run up, I'm dangling just off Brent and Noah. Behind Zak is alone chasing, then it's a group of 4 with Rudy and Matt Weeks, Dan Quinlin, and Ross. I need to hang with Brent and Noah for as long as I can... through the woods the second time, I close the gap up to them a bit... but they open it in the fields.

We made the hop to the run up for the third time at 17 minutes even, so I'm running 8.5 minute laps. On the run up, I closed the gap a bit again, then missed the pedal and did a little too much recovery on pavement at the top and it opened right back up again. Hey, I've got to keep racing here! I'm in a decent spot, with a good gap back to Zak and even more to Rudy (who's in my race).

In the woods, with all the switchbacks, I could see Zak closing in a little. So I decides to push some more. Once in the field, I decided to take the line through the muddiest corner close to the tape, and I hooked a stake with my bars. If this had been one of the nice new plastic stakes, I'm sure it would have bent, maybe come out of the ground and just messed up my line. But this was a wooden stake, and I assure you it was well secured, because it launched me into the mud. I probably slid 10 feet.

Back on the bike... get it moving through the mud, and Zak is gaining. When he connects, he says we should work to keep the others from catching us. I make sure I'm alright, and sit on Zak for a minute to take inventory. Back through the run up, and the others are on us up the hill. Zak is still up front, but I'm slowing down. Quinlin comes by, then Weeks. Going down the C, Matt is running the hard part. Hmmmm, that's interesting.

I get around Quinlin on the descent, but Rudy and Ross get around me. Heading into the woods Quinlin gets around me... big mistake on my part, because he is NOT good in the woods, the other 4 opened a gap through the twisty bits, and then Quinlin used his monster engine to open a gap on me out of the woods.

I've just let 5 guys pass me! Am I racing or on another Sunday in the park! So, I dig in hard and hold the gap through the first two fields. Making the switchback turn towards the log/parking lot transition, my front tire does a weird slide.. I think it's going flat! A flat!! I'm in a great position, I feel great and am ready to get back into the race, and now I have to swap my front wheel!

As I head to the log, I look back and no one is through the woods yet. So I've got a ton of space behind me. I make the parking lot, and sure enough the front tire is low. How am I going to do the pits? Since this isn't a real UCI race, and rules are not real firm, I could exit the course when I get back to the parking lot, get to the pits, grab my wheel, then get back to the course... but that would take a long time. I certainly don't want to run the whole course to the pit... that would take longer.

When I get to the parking lot, my tire still has some air, I decide to ride the course to the pits. The Tufos are tubbies of sorts, so I should be able to ride them flat, right? As long as they don't roll off the rim. So I take the corners gingerly, and make my way around. At the top of the run up, I can see I'm not really losing to much space. So just relax and get to the pits as quickly as I can. The tire holds through the C descent, and around the field, so I'm in the clear.

Once back at the top, heading to the line, I tell Gary (taking photo's) I have a flat. Gary yells to Rick, who happens to be spectating by the pits, that I have a flat. Rick asks, "front or rear"? As I come to the pit, I say front, and he hands me a wheel... and it's even my wheel (no idea how he did that). I got my wheel off, new wheel on, reattach the brake (good thinking on my part there), and head back into the woods. Back into the chase.

I figure I'm in 12th place. It's about 46 minutes in, so I've got about 20 minutes more to go. Once out of the woods, I can see Matt Weeks ahead of me, the others have left him behind. As I traverse the fields Thom Dominic is the closest behind, but I've still got a nice gap back to him. I'm still in third of the Master's and my flat hasn't lost me any real places. Time to get back to racing.

Next time around, I've closed the gap to Matt a little, I can see he's running a good deal of the woods. But with all the long switch backs, it's hard to judge how close I am until we get back to the field... and he's still a good ways ahead. 2 laps to go, so I have to start working harder. The gap back to Thom doesn't seem to have changed much.

With one lap to go, it's the same as before, but Thom seems to be moving up a bit. I have to leave everything here. As we hit the hill for the last time, I admit I will not catch Matt. At the top of the hill, though I see Quinlin coming back to me fast. I think I can get I go to work, and almost immediately screw up a turn, and go right over the timbers in the field. I sure hope these tires hold up to the abuse I'm dishing out. I don't want another flat today. Last time down the descent, and it looks like Quinlin has totally given up. I pass him hard in the field, and he doesn't budge. Through the run up, I don't see anyone, so I coast it in for the finish.

I'm really pleased with this race. 3rd place in the masters, 11th overall in the A race. I'm disappointed with the flat because I probably lost a minute or more to that, which was at least 2 places, and might have given me a fighting chance with Rudy. I'm not saying I'd have beaten him, but it would have been fun to go more head to head. We probably both would have gone faster then.

I'm really liking the way the Tufos handled the mud there also. I could hold my line well through some of the muddier corners, and though the rear didn't hook up well in the soft uphill section in the woods, they did fine everywhere else. I'm hoping I can get the front to hold air again... or maybe it's time to get some real tubbies... early Christmas present perhaps?

I've still got this passive racing thing going on, I should have fought for the line into the woods with Quinlin, because I wouldn't have lost that much space to Rudy, Matt and Ross there. But overall, I'm happy I raced well and was technically clean, with a few minor exceptions. Hooking that stack was not a good idea, though it was an agressive line that caused it. It was one of the better races of the season.

Gary has pics posted on his Flickr account. Be sure to look for the pics of Thom, he looks like he's having fun out there.... the rest of us look to be in pain.

Three more races in the season. I'm hoping to put three good ones together now. Next week we're back at Broadview Heights, then to Boughton Farm for the last two weeks.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Cross My Heart and Hope to Die - 11/10/2007

Spin Bike shop hosted their first ever cyclocross race on Saturday in Willoughby. "Cross My Heart and Hope to Die" promised a big purse in the A race paying 10 deep, so I was expecting it to draw... the biggest problem was the race was competing against a Cap City Cyclocross series race in Columbus, a Toronto UCI Cyclocross double weekend and the IceMan in Michigan. So the big question is who would show up? Still big purse will draw, so my goal was to get into the top 10... anything better is just gravy.

It decided to rain a little this week, so this course would be the first "not bone dry" course we'd see. On Friday evening it started raining, and kept it up pretty well through the night... so now I'm thinking all out mud, and wet turf, which is cool for me. I like my chances when it gets messy and technical.

Spin did a really nice job of winding the course around Todd Park. Paved start that twisted uphill, to a short, uphill log crossing, then across the parking lot and the fist bit of grass leading to the very wet ravine into the first run up. Well, it's more like an extended run... up around some brush, then down around a tree, and back up again, then down a longer off camber and right back up again. In dry this MIGHT have been ridable... with the wet, it's mostly running, with the slight exception of the last down and up. Back on the bike, there is some more up and down twisty stuff, and a stretch along a parking lot in the wet grass, then switchback and complete the circuit on 3 sides of the lot in gravel. Some more twisting on gravel to pavement, and back to the lower fields.

A tight right hander, then switchbacks to a longer beach section with a 2.5 foot log crossing. Back on the bike, and power up a 4 foot rise, to more switchbacks. (yes, there were a lot of them) Twist among the trees, then out a long strecth to the first real barrier set. More field, tight left turn by the pits, then more twisty stuff, and a longer traverse around a baseball field. More tight turns, and another switchback, another tight turn and a long stretch along the field, with some more turns.

I'll dub the next section "Death in Two Parts" (DI2P). Part 1 had you ride up a steep hill (off camber, so it was ridable), across the hill face about 10m, then 180 switchback down the hill face and back the way we came, left turn and down the hill and across the field. Not too bad, but slick. At the end of the straight was a switchback around a light pole, then straight up the run up... well, it was super steep, and about 100feet up. They also put a barrier about a quarter of the way up. At the top, they had 10feet across the hill to remount and then straight back down the hill... instead of being able to ride the speed out and recover, they had another switchback about 50m after the foot of the hill. So it was full on brakes at the bottom, then reaccelerate again.

From DI2P, some more punchy little rises, we looped around the edge of the park, and through the baseball infield, sweeping turn back through the pavilon (thumping tunes, but no beer) back to the start finish. 1.8 miles with maybe 100 switchbacks and tight turns. There are a lot of acceleration points, but a lot of technical details also.

I did a slow lap to check out the course before the B race, and tried to figure out what was ridable, and what would not be. I had a pretty good idea of riding though the first ravine, and as far as I could before dismounting the first run up. Then running to the top of the second rise, before remounting. Most of the rest was fine, until DI2P, which would required some care in the switchback in part 1, and negotiating the switchback at the end of part 2.

Warming up on the trainer during the race, I had a good view of both run ups. DI2P looked to be brutalizing the B races, though we did get some good ideas for handling the first run section... grab the tree and swing yourself around!

I got a couple more laps in before lining up, and I screwed up the race before the race, and came in on the second row, right behind Brent Evans. I hoped he'd have a great start. 23 A racers, including Dave Steiner, Gary Burkholder and Rick Adams from SBR. Spin had about everyone also in the race... Zak, Greg, Ryan, Chip and a few I don't know. Ryan Gamm, Paul Martin, Jeremy Grimm, Thom D, Brett and Ray were also there. Fun, fun, I'm hoping to stay near the front, though Brent and I suspect Paul will go out really hard to dislodge Gamm and anyone else.

At the gun, we're correct. Paul drives it away. Into the first log, and a guy from Michigan stacks it holding a few of us up as others go around wide. Into the ravine, I'm about 10th, as Paul flats on something, and hurls his bike into the woods. Oh! Maybe I can get a better place now. Traffic is horrendous, and I'm fighting Ray, Brett and others as the front 5 get moving. I'm running the ravine as well as all three rises in the first run section.

Around the course, I end up leading the first chase group for the last bit with Gamm, Grimm, Michigan, Brent and Weeks a little bit ahead. Into part 1 of of DI2P, and I drop it in the switchback. Brett narrowly missing damaging me and my bike by also going down which stacks everyone else up, so I loose no places. I just get really pissed as the gap opens some more. At part 2, Ray and I lead it into the run up, and Thom flies by us up the hill... hmm, he's running pretty well. Still all together, Steiner pulls through on the pavement, and I see a slight gap behind us. so it's time to MOVE!

Then I stack it on the log. So much for my gap. I swear, dig in, and hit the second run up... and run the whole thing again. The front 5 are gone, and this pain is only beginning. Lap two opens up the final placements. The front 5 are away, Thom D, Ray, Dave, Zak and I are looking to be fighting for 6-10, with Ryan Wyane and the Spin guys fighting for 11th spot and back.

Ray and I get a gap with him is following me. He comes around on the stretch leading to DI2P, I'm on the wheel as we head into part 1, and I again slide out on the switchback. So Ray gets a gap and he's away. Zak and Thom are right here, Thom takes it on the run up again, and Zak also gets away before the S/F straight. Now I'm in trouble if the three of them start working together.... and they do. They've got about 20m, and it grows through the first run.

I'm in ninth, which is a fine place, but I'm not happy. After I drop it a third time in the part 1 switchback, I decide to dismount there from here on out. I'm hoping it's faster, it's certainly less frustrating. I'm running the uphill log crossing, that I thought I should be able to ride, and I'm running the whole first section run up. I'm also taking paved corners wide mostly because my tires don't feel like they'll hold if I go as tight as I want... I'm loosing those seconds I need to close the gap to 6, 7 and 8th places. Zak attacks Ray and Thom, and gets away. Ray shortly leaves Thom behind, and we stick the gaps solid between Thom and I and Ray and Thom. Behind me, Dave is holding off Ryan Wayne, and Greg is chasing Ryan.

The course is brutal, I'm starting to open my gap behind, but I'm really not getting anywhere up ahead... they flash 6 laps to go... in the distance, I can see Paul Martin chasing back through the pack. He must have gotten a wheel and is now chasing back through the field. All the more reason to get moving....

With 4 to go, Ryan catches back to Dave and Dave realizes Paul will also catch him soon. He shouts that I have to hold Paul off... 4 laps, I don't think I'll be able to do it, but I certainly won't lay down and die! I'm still in the money spots. I'd still really like to get back up to those three in front.

Paul catches me on the straight leading to DI2P right before 3 to go. I asked him if he was still on the lead lap, then told him he was in ninth place. I figure he deserved to know.... of course, I just wanted to give him the encouragement he needed to go get in front of those three in front of me... cause I didn't want to be the only one caught.

Up ahead, Grimm is coming back, Zak catches and leaves him. Zak is riding really well. Thom and Ray and I are still holding the same gaps as Paul chews through all of us. With 2 to go, I figure it's do or die time.... so I start taking more chances, and try to ride parts of the first run section... it doesn't help at all, as I bog down. Thom opens some of his gap.... through out the lap, Ray dies, and Thom takes off.... I'm hopeful that Ray will come back to me, though I know he will turn himself inside out if I get close... Grimm is also coming back faster than before.

With one to go, Ray is exactly where Thom was, and Thom is near Grimm! I'm still in 10th, but I don't know what I can do to get to ninth or eighth... heading into the first run up section, I see Dave rolling his bike back to his car... he was in solid 12th place, so I can't see him packing it in unless he's had a mechanical. Ryan is still chasing me, but he's falling back as I'm trying to move forward.

It's no go, as Ray holds his own on the last lap, and the finish is set. I survived the last lap of 9 laps with a finish time of 1:22:25, averaging 9:09 per lap.

Finish is:
1. Ryan Gamm
2. Michigan Rider
3. Matt Weeks
4. Brent Evans
5. Paul Martin
6. Zak Dieringer
7. Thom Dominic
8. Jeremy Grimm
9. Ray Huang
10. John Ehrlinger
11. Ryan Wayne
12. Dave Steiner (1 lap)
13. ?

So I met my goal, but am still very disappointed with my race. I'm sure I was the only one running the part 1 switchback in the A race. I was tired of laying it down after 3 attempts, and had no better idea how to get through that. I probably should have gone there right after the race and figured out how to do that section... I was also not happy with my lines through some of the pavement, what should have been the easiest parts of the course.

Cyclocross is less a game of making time, as it is a game of not loosing time. I feel I lost maybe three places because of my technical flailing. Where I feel my technical ability is one of my big strengths, so I feel totally let down by myself. A technical course where my technical mistakes let the bigger engines of Ray, Grimm and Thom ride away from me.

I should take nothing way from the rides of Ray and Thom. Thom rode a great race on a single speed and ran even better. Lots of running to help him there. Ray was spectacular, though I admit I was constantly waiting for him to make some costly mistakes, they didn't come. Nice job guys.

Dave ended up racing well, but was the last lapped rider getting caught in DI2P. Which says that my 9:09 average lap time was probably 45 second slower per lap than the winning time. If Paul hadn't flatted, I'm guessing 10th place would have been a lap down also.

Gary ended up flatting on the second lap on the same hazard in the ravine that Paul hit... as did Brett a few laps later. I was running that section so was never in danger. Gary recovered from the disappointment and grabbed to camera. He's posted a ton of pics up for our viewing pleasure. Rick finished his first A race with a nice writeup here. Nice job all.

In spite of my disappointment, I think Spin did a great job of putting on the first of what I hope will be a regular stop on the Northern Ohio Cross Circuit. Nice purse, nice venue and a fun event. Maybe with a year of planning, I can figure out how to be happy with the results I've gotten.... because it could always be worse than it is. It was a hard race, I can't complain about that, and I did meet my goal for the day. Put it behind me and learn something new to apply for the next race. I think I'm learning a lot this year.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Orrville: Wayne College 11/4/2007

A fun course this week with lots of pavement. Orrville's first year at this venue produced an interesting course. I'd missed the first week here because of family stuff, but heard it was fast with no place to recover.

The course goes like this: Paved slightly uphill start for 100m, then up and around a tree before looping around a field with 2 barrier sets with some nice terrain to add to the fun. Then rail a cool cambered 180 and drop to a long parking lot section with a sweeping right turn, left turn, then 180 back onto the raised grass. Punchy little rises looping to some down and ups around some trees, the second was the worst, though they were all covered with long pine needles making it treacherous to go off the lines. Then accelerate through dry dirt, weaving around some more trees, a couple more punchy little bumps. Cross a bumpy dry field, chicane around a tight fence, then downhill, tight 90* right turn, and then up hill along another field. Then a left onto some single track around a lake with another nasty right turn onto a bridge, another punchy rise, then grind a deceptive uphill that transitions to a paved bike path that leads back to the start/finish stretch of pavement.

This course had a true paved cyclocross S/F open for finish sprints, unlike the Orr Park course. Though there was more pavement than I've ever raced on. Seemingly not very technical, but not a grass crit either.

Dave Steiner and I arrived in time to get dressed in a real locker room thanks to the YMCA! We could have showered after the race if we had time... or if it was colder and wetter. This was high class all the way. We took a few laps while the B's were tearing it up. Interestingly, the Miranda's were the only other SBR reps. There were also no Spin guys, and no Columbus guys that I could see. Orrville is about the furthest distance I'd call local, but I still expected it would attract more of a cross section of the central and northern Ohio groups.

There were at least 14 A's and 6 masters on the line. I lined up on the front row next to Shawn Adams with Mark Lopresto and Dave on our wheels. After repinning my number because I can't tell my right from my left (it's a sad truth), they did a quick start with no count down, catching some off guard, and we were off.

I got a pretty good start this week, following Paul Martin, Shawn and Matt Weeks around the tree. In short order Eric Lesco, Rudy, Brent Evans and Jeremy Grimm came around me heading into the first barrier set. I dug in to hold Jeremy's wheel but not hard enough as the gap opened. I managed to hold it to about 10 meters until the pavement when it open up further. Behind I had a descent gap, though that didn't last long. So I'm in 8th by half way through the first lap.

In short order, Dave, John Lorson, Brad Wilhelm, Dan Quinlin and Jeff Braumberger close down the gap to me, and I end up leading them around for about 2 laps. I've got some good lines, and I probably should have done the "Ernesto shuffle" to hide them until I needed them. Instead I show them off trying to open the gap and leave everyone behind. I get a some help from Dave, but for the most part, I'm just pulling these guys around.

At some point Dan Quinlin has enough, and he attacks the group. I try to follow, but not hard enough again, and he gets a gap. Given his pavement engine, he's away for good. I keep trying to get some of the guys in my group to work, but they all seem content to sit in. About a lap later, Braumberger attacks, and takes Wilhelm with him... and again, I can't (or don't) get moving fast enough to hold on.

Now it's just Lorson, Dave and I, and Dave is barely hanging on. It doesn't take long for Dave to drop off, about the same time Wilhelm comes back to us. I succeed in getting Wilhelm and Lorson to do a little work, but I'm faster through the barriers than both of them. Wilhelm is not dismounting, but he's not getting any advantage by it... and shows signs of fatigue as he misses a few of them. Not enough to wreck, but enough to have people scrambling to fix the barriers back up.

Ahead of us, Braumberger has caught Lesco coming back from the lead group, and Quinlin is out of sight. I start pushing harder on the pavement, and we eventually loose Wilhelm. I can see that Braumberger is leaving Lesco behind, so I start to work on getting Lorson to help me since I assume both Lorson and Lesco are racing master's. So Lorson has more at stake than I do.

We complete about another lap together, we're getting close to the 35 minute mark, when Lorson looses his chain in the bumpy field stuff. He takes long enough that I figure I'm on my own, so I drill it in search of Lesco. This is probably the best thing for me, because I finally figure out how to best ride the course. Places where I was being complacent, I now accelerate across, and I find some lines to carry my speed better through some other stuff. I still screw up the worst tree loop on occasion, but I'm feeling the course better.

Behind me, Dave and Lorson hook up and start working together. I wonder if Dave should work to bring Lorson back? I won't sit up, but since Lorson is in the master's field, it won't cost either of us. In the end I end up holding the gap back to them pretty constant on my own, as I get the course down.

About here, I pass Paul Martin with his broken chain... I heard later that the PM DNF was relayed back to the official at the S/F via spectators shouting across half the course. Fun! Like a real Belgian cross only with a much smaller crowd. Braumberger is still visible up ahead, mostly because he had to get off the bike to fix a chain problem of his own at the second barrier set, so I'm still looking to pick up that place. And I've got a rabbit to help me get there in Lesco, who I'm bringing back ever so slowly.

The Master's race is 50 minutes, and without lap cards, I'm calculating how long my rabbit will be there. At 45+ minutes I'm figuring Lesco is on his last lap. Lorson is pretty far back, so when I cut the gap in half on the lap, I figure Lesco has gone into "Make no mistakes" mode to conserve his win.

As we cross the line at 54 minutes, he doesn't stop... and there's no bell for him. So what's going on? It's really hard to think much during the race, so I just say "whatever" and work to close the gap some more. Behind me, Dave is now alone, so Lorson stopped. Just race. Next time through the line, the gap is down to less than 100m, and they are ringing the bell, and people are calling last lap! My work is now clear. I have to catch and pass Lesco. Braumberger is out of reach, but I can get Lesco. So I go to work... leave it all on the course.

It takes just about half the lap to catch him... at the nasty tree. Neither of us get through that once cleanly, but I'm half way there... I caught him. Now to attack. I drill it over the two little rises, and get a small gap, but not what I'm looking for. He catches back on on the descent to the right hand 90, and I attack again on the uphill and into the lake section. He's still sticking to me, so I figure it'll be a sprint then. So I recover, and go easy. I'm on the front though, so if he goes, I have to be ready to jump his wheel. Onto the bike path, I force him along the left edge, so I can straighten out the last corner... then once I'm on the finish, I just give it everything. I hear Brent yelling for me above the other cheering... whooo!!! The gap is made and I get the placement by a few bike lengths!

Brent Evans out sprinted Shawn, outfoxing three Lake Effects for the win. I ended up in eighth place, out of 14 and finished ahead of all the Master's racers... so I'll be greedy and call it 8th out of 20. Dave held off a late charge by Wilhelm and Cameron Jackson for 10th place. Mark Lopresto, in his third ever cyclocross race is doing great stepping into the A's finishing 13th I think. Though I kept looking back and seeing him holding his gap pretty well, he's getting it down quickly.

Special thanks again to Katie for taking some great pics again, and a very nice handup at about 45minutes... well timed and well executed.

I certainly liked this course better than Orr Park. I did take way to long to figure it out though... maybe because the pavement led to more group riding than simply head down lonely sufferfest that cyclocross usually is for me. If I hadn't been worried about the tactics, I might have ridden the course better earlier then not HAD to worry about the tactics... or something like that.

Thanks to the Orrville team for a great series, though I will point out that there are quite a few guys missing from the posted results, and I'm not sure why. This week Mark Lopresto and Ryan Wayne were not listed on the A race results. They were on the results sheet after the races, and yet... robbed of the one everlasting thing that rewards our weekends exploits... bragging rights seeing your name on results posted to the Internet.

Well, this weekend it's the Spin Cross My Heart and Hope to Die race. I probably shouldn't be talking this race up, since the big purse should attract a big field. I really need to get my whole game together for this one.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Michigan KTR Double Cross Photos

I promise I will never again say anything about someone's race photos. As evidenced by pics I took at the Michigan KTR double cross weekend. I've finally posted the pics at the
Double Cross Photo Gallery

I won't be quiting my day job... maybe I should just race instead.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Orrville: Orr Park - 10/21/2007

Orr park is NOT my favorite cyclocross race. Last year, I felt like total garbage in the B race, and came in 8th. Probably my worst race of the year. First off, I was racing "down" and then did pretty poorly. Bleah! Not only do I feel guilty about racing the B's but then I don't even do that well.

Now I've set an overall tone for this report... Dave Steiner picked me up with his girl friend Katie for the trip down. I felt pretty dry, so I made sure to drink well on the trip. We arrived with plenty of time to get about an hour of warm up in. I took about 3 or 4 laps at varying speeds to get the feel of this very mountain bikey course.

The start is a 100m sprint to a barriered run up a sled mound. There is practically no elevation changes in the area (with the exception of ravines) so they built a sledding hill by dropping a 25 foot mound of dirt in the middle of a field.

Down the hill, across the rest of the field into the first single track section via a sweeping turn that ends in a pretty tight 90. The single track twists up a slight grade, then around and back through the woods before dropping to the first bridge crossing. Twisting through some more woods including a nasty off camber turn into a short uphill that my tires tend to drift through. Out of the woods, and around a lake, we take a 90 turn onto the second bridge. Across a little dip, then up and down through a power section of lawn that leads to the third bridge. Then a nice little up and down turn over a small hill, leading to a tree turn and drag to the second barrier that forces a dismount before doing a creek ravine run down and up.

The ravine remount leads to a 100m sidewalk, then left turn into the 200m headwind pavement, gravel, field section. Tight left turn along the fence at the edge of the soccer field and back into more loose single track. We pop out along the soccer field again, before diving back into more twisty single track. Pop out of that near a baseball field, where we turn into a tight path along the outfield fence that twists along a single/double track width to the finish line. There's about another 100m of grass and a sweeping 180 that leads back to the start field.

The laps were pretty short, maybe a mile and a half... which seems much short than last weeks 1.6 mile Fairport Harbor. It's also more than 50% single/double track. During warm up, I tried the Michelin Mud's and decided to run the Tufo's. The course was extremely dry and dusty. With sunny skies and temps in the 80s, it wasn't going to change much.

Orrville had the 60 minute A race and the 50 minute Master's race both running at 3:15ish. The fields were listed as starting separate, and given the choice, I decided to do the A race for the extra time. It's not like I'm going for points, and the prizes aren't the real reason I'm racing.

The field was pretty stacked with about 15 or so As, and 8 Master's. Jeremy Grimm, Shawn Adams, Matt Weeks, Rudy Sroka, Steve Twining, Jeff Braumberger... it promised to be fast and hard.

At the line, I got squeezed between Shawn and Steve Twining, two of the very fast guys (FFG's in the local sense). And on the whistle, I'm in the wrong gear. Way too easy, so I loose places instantly. Sprinting along the bumpy field, trying to shift and make up places... I realize, I don't really feel like racing. I don't feel like racing? I've never had that thought before....

There's plenty of bumping and jostling and I get over the barrier and up the hill with Dave about half way back. I'm able to come around him going into the single track, but I'm just following others around the course. On the sweeping turn that I usually drift through, one FFG (on the road anyway) goes down pretty hard. We all get around him so that through the second barrier onto the sidewalk, and I'm about 10 back.

I'm really having a hard time getting my head in the game, when Dave comes around and yells at me to get going! Around the soccer field woods, and coming out, Mike Gorman comes around me on the right and squeezes between me and a fence post. That pissed me off, "HE ALMOST TOOK ME INTO THE BRUSH!". It also helped to get me moving. Out of the woods, and I aggressively passed him back by squeezing between him and the ball field fence, nearly taking him into the brush.... apologizing as I tried to hold it in close to the fence. Lot's of shouting from the group behind at my move, but Mike made it through and I got a small gap on him and the rest of that group.

That move finally kicks starts my racing... Dave leads me through the single track on the second lap until I give it the gas around him in the power section leading to the third bridge, which opens the gap that I need to get away.

I'm away, and in pretty good shape. I can see I'm sitting maybe 7th overall. I just need to maintain my position, and I'll do all right. I've got some pretty good lines through the single track, and I'll just roll this.

So I settle in, and am maintaining my gap when Ed Delgros comes around me like a rocket.... good thing he won't race with the A's, so I don't have to worry about how badly he's beating me (no editorial comment there). I try to hang on, but I'm already way out there as far as efforts go. He's away and closes the gap to the group in front of me pretty quickly. At the same time, Zak bridges up to me and sits on for about a lap.

I'm holding the gap to the Delgros group of 4 pretty well, the front 5 are gone, though. Into the headwind section Zak attacks... I try to hold his wheel also, but I think this train is about to blow. He opens his lead,and I've got another guy on my wheel. He sits for about a lap, and by the cheers, it's Lorson racing master's. He sits for about the next lap, then at the headwind section I back off, hoping he'll try the attack and that I can follow him. It works, and I get some respite. I followed him through the single track and back to the run up. I attack him up the run up, and pass him, but I can't hold it. He comes around again, gets a gap, and I try to hold that one steady.

Since I'm not seeing lap cards, only the clock, I have no idea how I'm doing. I figure it's close to 40 minutes so I only have 20 or so to go... and I start to guess how many laps that is. I hurt all over. Braumberger passes me, and I figure I've been lapped, so I don't even try to push to grab his wheel. Gorman comes back around me as I start to head backwards. There are a couple of Spin guys behind me, and I'm about cooked. Not a good feeling.

Heading into the ravine crossing, I catch a glimpse more lappers... Grimm and Twining are coming up. As I hit the headwind again, Grimm blows by me. I half attempt to jump on, but I also expect Twining to be right there. Into the turn, he's is still lagging, I don't really want to get in his way in the single track, so I half sit up to let him by... stupid! I'm yelling at him to get moving! As is Grimm's dad... but I think he's just laughing.

Once Twining comes by, I jump on his wheel through the trails. I'm following fine, which makes me feel good about my lines. We pop out, and he's got a bit of a gap. I start to accelerate to the ball field, when one of the Spin guy comes flying into the turn with me. He's a bit wider than I like, and this isn't the first lap anymore. Two bikes into the space where there's really only space for one, and I'm soon into the bushes... then the front wheel dives into a hole, and I'm pitched over the bars... into a huge rose bush.

Damn it! That move sucked! I'm now pretty scratched up, and really pissed. I don't care if I'd used that same move for Gorman, it was still sucked, AND it crashed me! By the time I get back on the bike, that guy is gone... and I'm just sulking, licking my wounds for the next half lap. Next time.... urgh! I hope that place was worth it! Double URGH! Dave caught me in that half lap, and asked what happened... I'm fine, just really pissed off. Then I realized the guy wasn't that far ahead and I should chase him down. At the time I was going to take him into a fence or tree... or something, but I'm really too nice for that. I didn't catch him. But I did at least try to finish out the last two laps at a race pace.

The guy that took me into the bushes did apologize after the race. Which was really cool. He said he thought we'd get pulled since we'd just been lapped... so he was going for the placement! Then Dave tells us I deserved it since I shouldn't have been back that far anyway. Nice having friends around you.

I can't stay pissed off at the guy, since I'm really glad that the Spin guys have all manned up and raced in the A field this year. They, like me, are not really in it for the win, but are still doing that biggest race in the area. Getting more guys into that race can only help make it more fun... for everyone. It sucks to be racing in a small, spread out field... effectively just racing your own demons. Well I guess that's really who we all race against, but it's easier when you can see others and maybe help their demons beat them up a little.

I still don't like being taken into the thorns, but it really was just aggressive racing. I see no other way for him to fight for that place... because of the design of the finish. They probably should put the finish in the field near the start... then sprints for places would be more open, and safer. Better than through the tight spots near rose bushes. My legs look like a wild cat decided to go through them to get away from a bath.... real mountain biker legs, except I shave.

A big part of why the Spin guy had the chance to do that at all was because I sat up a bit to stay out of Twining's way in the single track after Grimm passed me. Stupid again, I kick myself every time I do that... and then I do it again in another race... I still try to stay out of the way of the front guys. Twinning basically sat up when Grimm attacked him there... a big part of the game is to demoralize your competition at the right time. It was all over Twining's face then.

Which is pretty much the way I feel my race went. Every time someone passed me, I got a little slower... until I'd had enough. I did not like the single track, though I felt smooth through there... it just felt slow. Yet the overall race speed was much faster than the sand at Fairport Harbor. So, not my best day racing. Hopefully, like last year, it will be the worst of the year. Actually on the upside, my lap time data shows a slightly different picture than my perception did. I certainly slowed down when Zak went by. Then after the Lorson lap, I picked up again chasing again... then the crash. That's bike racing, I'm such an optimist.

TimeAvg HRAvg spd






6:10 (after Zak dropped me?)16915.4





5:50 (this is the short one)16915.0

I figure the weird average speeds are cumulative averages... maybe? It is interesting that I was still working hard, even if I wasn't racing my fastest... Might just as well race if I'm going to be working like this anyway.

...and thanks to Katie for taking some pics of the race. Some of them are really artsy shots... not just "faces of pain". Very nice stuff! Check them out on flickr I don't really understand how flickr works, so you may have to search for them soon if Dave and Katie post more shots.

All right, I'm letting it go now, and looking to improve for the next course that rumor has will be more 'cross like... off camber turns, open race. My kind of course.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fairport Lap Times

So, I did some "data analysis"... using the altimeter data, I marked out a lap and got some timing.... I didn't actually start my HRM until we were heading to the stage, so I had to use my overall time from the results to back calculate the first lap time.
47:20Crashed here, I think.
67:10Brett followed off the light house
77:20 Took the BD "Fast line" off the beach
87:28Alone and just conserving... I guess.

The last lap may have been a bit shorter, cause my stop time was not real accurate. The overall time was 56:53 for an average lap time of 7:07.

I'm not posting my "Brett" comment lines to dis him. Having him on my wheel was freaking me out, which I think is my own fault. I posted the comments to note where I lost time. It's a good set of excuses anyway.

I've gone back over my data, and have adjusted these times... turns out I have been more consistent than I thought. The first and last lap times are still pretty shaky, because changing one effects the other. But these adjustments indicate that I didn't slow down that much on the last lap after all. So.... I guess I've just got to improve my endurance and just plain get faster,

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fairport Harbor CX pics 2007

Team prez Rick Adams took some shots of the A race.... I've posted them at my photo gallery.

Go easy, it's not a super fast connection like the commercial sites.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fairport Harbor CX - 10-14-2007

The second race of the 2007 Bike Authority Cyclocross Series was at Lakefront park in Fairport Harbor.

I'm a bit disappointed with the series this year, since I had to miss the first race... the first BA series race I've missed in the 5 years of my cyclocross career. The down side isn't so much the missed race, but having dropped one race, I'm totally out of any points contention... it's hard to make up 23 points when there are at most 2 points between places. Nothing can be done though, so I'm giving myself the point spread and seeing what could have been instead... and setting my own goals for the series.

I was thinking all sorts of "North Shore" stuff as I came into the park with plenty of time to pre-ride, warm up and cheer on the team. Right on the lake front (as the name implies) the weather is kind of weird as the lake temperature is 66, the air temperature is either warm or cold depending on the wind direction.... so pick your clothing well!

Team LakeEffect did a fantastic job on the course this year. The park has all sorts of options, and they used them well. From the paved start, we crossed the park entrance drive, and rode along the amphitheatre benches. Three benches, you choose which one you want. 180 around to the top level, and then straight up the hill to the lighthouse level... grind it out in your 27, or you'll have the only run up. Across the light house level, to another 180, this one off camber with a freaky drop down the hill if you missed it. Off camber back along the hill to a sweeping left hand drop down hill to another off camber sweeping 180... and into some twisty parts heading to the stage.

Off the stage it's time to accelerate to the next feature, a "death spiral"... loop clockwise around the outside, 180 back for a counter clockwise turn inside, and again for a clockwise spin before jumping into another acceleration to the next bit of twisty parts. Through these and accelerate to the beach area.

We looped around the parking lot to make the beach approach which included a light drop to the sand and then right through the sand pile. A mound of sand about 10 feet high... if you stayed right, you would go through the shallow 2 feet deep section, any lefter and you could go much deeper. Fifty feet further on was the true sand crossing of another 50 feet leading to the side walk part. Around the side walk, across another ten foot sand section, around the barbeque, and back across another 10 foot of sand. Some twisties through the beach house, and back to the longest sand crossing that ended in an 12"+ log barrier. Quite a bit of sandy goodness....

Once over the barrier, we did a long parking lot loop. Out to the end of the park, and up the ramp drive, around a cone and back down the other side. Another long grassy, sandy, pavement stretch interrupted by a barrier set, then loop around a traffic circle, up and over a paved ramp and all grass back to the start finish.

Overall a very technical course with lots of twisty parts, lots of transitions and lots of sand. 1.6 miles of fun, though it seemed longer.

B Race
Turnout was pretty good even with the double conflict weekend of the Cincinnati UCI races, and the first race of the Orrville series. There were still 55 B and C racers, and it was loads of fun watching them take the course. Great spectating at the death spiral, and the sand hill.

The gauntlet was laid by 14 year old Drew Bercaw who was riding through the sand hill while most the others were running it. Carnage all over the course as Tony Marut put in a big attack half way through the race, got a gap of at least 30-45 seconds, but was hauled back by Cameron Jackson who took the win. Tony ended up 40 seconds back in 6th overall, but 4th in the B's. Snakebite had Gary Burkholder and Ian Hoffman getting 18th and 16th in the B race (nice job, guys) and Rick getting 5th in the Master's field. Brett Davis also raced the B race on his single speed.... until he had a pedal failure and changed over to the A race bike. Brett finished in 5th 30seconds behind Tony.

A Race
The A race had 13 and 4 master's. I signed up for the master's since the whole field was racing together, it may or may not have been the best decision. Some of the master's raced down with the B's and others didn't show because of the UCI race. My goal was to key off of Rudy Sroka, and see if I could hang and maybe give him a go. The other fast guys were Shawn Adams and Matt Weeks, and Zak Deringer and Thom Dominic on his single speed. Should be fun.

Dave Steiner is my only companion in the A race, and we did some pre-rideing together to get the technical aspects down. I'm hoping it'll be helpful to both of us as we figured out the correct way to ride the sandy bits.

At the line, Brett lined up next to me, and said he was going for the hole shot. He probably had one good lap in him, then he was going to coast....

At the gun, we're away and I had the front for a whole 5 seconds before about 3 guys got in front of me. Shawn, Matt, Greg from Spin... Up the hill, Rudy comes around me so I'm fifth at the top. Greg gets the "Go! Daddy, GO!" call... gotta love that one. Everyone is clean around the turns and heading to the spiral... Shawn leads it out and we start the spinning.

Once through the spiral, it strings out more going to the twisty parts, and then more to the beach. There's still a good bit of traffic, so I decided to run the sand hill the first lap, then use the riding technique to get and hold some space in the later laps... using my best Ernesto "don't show off the good lines until you need them" technique.

I rode the longer beach section, passing Greg and when Brett pulled off, I moved into 4th.... But by then Shawn, Matt and Rudy had a little gap, and once they hit the side walk, they took off... I knew immediately that the train was leaving the station, so I dug in to try to get there without much luck. I held the gap firm, but did no good closing it... then their team mate Derrick passed me before we got to the end of the side walk... I don't know if it was intended to be a block, but I didn't want to give it a chance. First opportunity I got to pass was in the longest sand section, and the race was pretty much made.

Around the lot and through barriers, I made a point of accelerating on every open section to solidify my gap behind and close the one to the front. Especially on the grassy stretch through the start finish, since I'd already heard a "demoralizing" comment about that section. Heading into lap two, I dropped about 15seconds to Shawn, Matt and Rudy and was about the same in front of Zak, Greg, another Spin rider and Thom Dominic.

Through the sand the second lap, I decided to ride it, and bobbled slightly... loosing more time to the front. I did open the gap behind a bit though, and pressed that advantage along the pavement. Brett jumped back in behind me, and rode the log barrier as I dismounted. Talk about a possible demoralizer... the sand sucked every bit of momentum from the bike as you approached the log, so dismount late and run through sand. Back on the bike, and accelerate again. Thom is trying to close my gap, pulling the spin guys with him. I'm more interested in Rudy and Derrick... since they're both in my race, though I'll take a fourth overall if I can get it. I just need to hold on and open gaps.

Through the start finish for lap 3 and I realize I haven't even looked at the lap cards yet. What lap am I on? How many will to go? Just watch the gaps, and do what I can. Digging in deep up the climb, and the spectators are fantastic... team mates screaming at me... at everyone. It was fantastic... DIG IN!!!

Through the sand clean, overall a good lap, and the gaps are growing... both ways. Shawn is pulling Matt and Rudy away... Matt and Rudy may be working, but I only see Shawn on the front. So it's the three Lake Effect, me, and then three Spin behind with Thom. Up the hill at the far side, and Thom is now behind the Spin guys, he must have had some trouble in the sand.... 5 to go as we hit the start finish.

Around the course, and Brett says 30 seconds in front and behind. Looks good, now ride clean. I time the front gap, and it's much closer to a minute... Zak is making a charge at me, and closes it down a bit. 20 seconds at the hill with 4 to go... that hill is getting harder every lap. Brett is on my wheel on the off camber section, and I screw it up and go low.... every other time I do it fine, he suggests I take it higher next time.... thanks Brett, I have been. He follows through the spiral giving encouragement... "take the corners clean, and accelerate on the straights"... pretty much what I've been doing. I don't know if he's helping or not... it was fun for him anyway.

Around clean again. I've got the lines, I just need to execute the turns, and accelerate on the straights. 3 to go, I've opened it a bit again. Shawn's group seems to be about constant on the east side of the park, but they're opening on the west more technical part. When I'm making the 180 turn at the amphitheatre, they are heading right at me on the other direction. It takes my concentration enough that I turn the wheel to hard, and I'm on the grass. DAMN!

Bloody knee, remount and get through the hill... muscle it up, then take stock. My knee is sore, but I was back on the bike quick enough to not loose too much. Now to get back in the game. It doesn't seem like Zak has closed that much, but I have to keep the pressure up... I've got second in the master's locked up, now I'm running for fourth overall... and who knows what may happen in front over the next two laps.

Brett jumps on my wheel again through the sand, and suggests a new line through the beach section.... I like my line, but he says that the high line is faster... I stick with the one I know. Accelerate away as he's ringing the bell right behind me!!! I feel like a skittish horse with some madman with a bell behind me! WAAAAAHHH!!!!

2 to go, through the hill clean.... oh, 1 more after this... my body is getting stiff, but every technical bit, and I've only got one more to do. Brett and Rick are standing near the better beach line... so I try it.... and the bike stalls. Not a complete dismount, but it certainly didn't save me any time. I'll just stick to my own lines, thank you.

I'm still opening the gap behind, and maintaining the gap to the Lake Effects... barely. They are slightly (by a few feet) opening their gap at the barriers, but it looks like I won't be catching them.

Bell lap... finally. I just need to get through and I'm fine. Zak is at least 30 seconds back, and Lake Effect are better than a minute ahead. One more grind up that hill... I want to run it, cause it's hard, but I WON'T! GRIND IT OUT and go! Everything else is clean. At the beach house Shawn is through WAY before he has been, so he must have drilled the last lap... as expected. Matt and Rudy are at the same spot through the barriers. So no gains there... It's really hard to push the last 500meters or so.... Zak is far enough back that he won't catch me, and I can't catch the other two since they're already done... so I'm only pushing to hold the time gaps down.

Fourth in the A's! I'm 100% satisfied with that result. Even with the reduced field, 4th out of 17 is a fine result in my book. Second master's is a bonus, but I was only racing against 4 guys so I'm much happier with the overall numbers.

Turns out Shawn decided to give it a go on the last lap and left Rudy and Matt as expected. Then Matt bobbled the sand hill and took Rudy down. It slowed them down, but not by much. Shawn had me by 2 minutes, Rudy and Matt got me by a minute and a half and I had another half minute behind before Zak and Thom.

Dave Steiner suffered through to get 8th out of the 13 in the A race... a bit more technical than he liked, but still a good result even if all the Master's finished in front of him. Take your points Dave, and look to the next race.

The upside of the series is Bill Marut raced down in the B master's, so basically gave up his second place A master's standing. Rudy is now a lock for first since Brent raced in the UCI race, as are Derrick for second and Larry Pandy for third. Since there were only the same 6 Master's fighting for 3 places last year, we basically gave the Derrick and Larry their place this year. Maybe I should have raced A's, maybe not.... I like the format this year better than last year where we started 30seconds behind the A field. This year will be about fighting it out with both fields. More guys on the course at the same time.... more fun and we're scored separately.

So, the next three weeks are the Orrville Series, I'll make no more than 2, and those are iffy at best. There's also the Louisville, KY series on the 27/28th that I will be paying attention to, but not attending. Then a Saturday race nearby put on by Spin on November 10th.... before we get back to this series on November 18th. Lot's more cyclocross action to go!

Monday, October 01, 2007

Powerman - 9/29/2007

Holy-moley, it's the last road race of the season. Word was out, Snakebite would have a nice contingent out, as well as a bunch of the East siders showing, so I got my papers signed to go out on Saturday.

I did this course last year. Raced up in the cat 3 field, and then they combined the 7 1/2's in with the 3s on the line. Ouch. I made it through the 7 miles of the race before the hill, popped because of bad positioning, spent the remainder of the race chasing the field with Dave S. Once it was clear they were gone, we rolled around with 3 Echelon guys, and then race the last 5 miles to the line. I felt reasonable about it, because I took the field sprint, and I was still a cat4.

This year, I've been riding much better, so the plan was to watch the known guys like StarkVelo's John Lowery and Echelon's Dan Rhule. Follow moves, and see what we could do. I picked up Dave and Pete S. for the complete Snakebite showing. Pete has just put in for his cat 3 upgrade, and was going to race up... No problems registering for whatever he wanted, we had 3 in the field.

There were 20 cat 3's on the line, and they again combined in the 5 cat 1/2s at the start. They did give us a good view of who we were NOT racing against. They lined the 5 up at the front, said look at them, they are racing for 2 places. Brent Evans, Jeremy Grimm, Jim Matson, and a couple of guys that had traveled to the race. The cat 3's are racing for 5 spots. Then they mixed us all up, and we were off.

So I settled into the front 10, and stayed there. As we rolled around, I remembered a lot of the course, but it was all pretty blurred. They had changed the course up also, so I wasn't totally comfortable where the climb was. There is only one climb, and we told Pete to be near the front going into it, since it's the safest place to not get gapped.

Pretty calm as we rolled out. Everyone was waiting for the hill. Brent pulled for a while, then Jeremy, then one of the travelers. Lowery went up front, and I followed, we rolled through, not really pushing the pace, but not sleeping either. At about 4 miles in, Mark Lopresto, a new 3 from the East side riders, rolled off the front and got a gap. He opened it slightly over a roller, and one of the travelers decided that was enough.... so he closed it down right before making the right hander toward the hill.

As we made the turn, I was about 10 back with Brent when he asked me where the hill was... I had no idea, since the course was different, but I suspect it was soon. Right after the turn, we rolling up a short roller, and Dave and Pete are right there... except Pete's front tire is going flat. So his race is over within 8 miles. Ouch.

As Pete fades off, Dave and I move further up. I'm still near Lowery, and he sends Rick Parr to the front to pull the field.... we must be at the hill. As we crest the second larger roller, I see a monster hill come up in front if us. Straight to the top, which we can see, but it looks like a wall. It's about 200 feet up in six tenths of a mile.

OK, here we go. I tuck into the drop before the hill, and hit the bottom about 6th wheel.... when one of the travelers gives it the gas. It's all good until about half way up the hill, when I realize I'm not in a very good gear... so I shift, and still bog down, so I shift again, and I'm suddenly going backwards as the entire field passes me by. I'm now in my 19, and am grinding my way up the hill, not very quickly either. Holy cow is this nasty. Up over the top, finally! I'm flailing, AND off the back!

The road drops over the top slightly and heads into another big roller. OH MY! I have to get over that too! I get my momentum back up quickly, but I'm about 500m off the back. We hit the next roller, and I loose more space. Again it drops over the top, and I bring back the first guy... I'm in chase mode again. Shoot.

The first guy is totally cooked, and I drop him immediately and go after the next one. I pick him up right before the next turn, and encourage him to hop on and we'll work it. Make the turn, and we've got a mostly descending road back to the farm.

So we go into a rotation. I'm not happy, but I'd like to see what we can do. I've been able to chase back onto fields a few times this year, so I'm getting used to this... I don't like it, but I have some confidence that it's possible. So we start to work. Up the road, I can see another guy, so he's the next goal. Before we make it up to him, the follow vehicles come around. Pete's going for the ride, and hollers some encouragement as they pass us up.

It takes a couple of miles, but eventually we do pick up the next guy, and it's Mark. He dug deep, he says, but chose the wrong gear up the climbs... I know that feeling. I pull right around him and give him a bit of a break. He points out the field is just ahead, so I say OK, We can make it. The other guy goes to the front, but I get the impression that he's done... I tell Mark to pull through! He does, and then I pull through. I think we can do this. It's only 500m or so (again). Mark takes a pull, because we lost the other guy. We take about 2 or 3 rotations, and we're getting a little closer... then I take a pull, and I gapped Mark. Shoot! I'm still to far to go on my own, that's it. We're alone.

It turns out Jeremy attacked the field right past the start finish, so that was my last chance to get on. When Mark couldn't hold my wheel, I backed it off a little, to give him a break. So, it's a training ride now. Again... just like last year.

That was it, we chased onto the back side of the course... and when we couldn't see the field any longer, we gave up the chase. We stopped to take a leak. Then got back to the "training" part of the day. I told Mark I'd like to keep up the pace, so we went into a tempo zone, and just plugged away. Rotating through, chasing, but not really expecting to get anywhere. We didn't see anyone behind us, or in front of us.

When we mad the turn onto the hill road, I was starting to think about the cat 4 field behind us. Over the second roller, I looked back, and thought I saw a car with flashers. On the hill, Mark left me again, I was just not getting up this thing quickly today. In fact, I was grinding it in my 23... ouch, this was nasty. There was a photographer near the top taking shots... which would have looked cool, except we were way off the back, and my "head down" attitude would give that way. Mark crested about 100m or so ahead of me, and sat up over the top to wait for me.

I grabbed some gu, and chased back. I told Mark the 4's were coming, and that I'd like to get to the finish line before them. So we'll need to work. Off we went with renewed vigour. We almost made it too. The lead car kept getting closer and at one point I looked back to see a lone rider behind it. One guy, off the front of the field was pulling us back. He caught us with about a half mile to go. We managed to hold off the field, but we'd lost a full 10 minutes to them over the two laps they raced.

As we came close to the line, Mark asked if we were going to do the last lap. Of course we were, we paid for the race, so we're going to get the training out of it. There were quite a few times on the lap that I was thinking, I'd rather have had a flat.... totally out of my control, and no questions about what went wrong... you just know. Pete had the easier day today, even though it sucked for both of us.

We had to be the last guys on the road. We ended up pulling around in a high z2 low z3. The hills were killing me, and Mark was having to sit up every time the road went up... I have no idea what's stopping me from getting up these things except y head.

We made the turn onto the hill road, and Mark left me on the second roller putting in the 100m gap there. Down to the base of the hill, and he was nearing the top... again, nothing I could do, I expected to bring him back again at the top. Not that it really mattered for place, I wasn't planning on out sprinting him for 18th or whatever it was. Over the top I could just see him, but by the time I made the top of the next roller, Mark was gone.

Gone, I mean really gone. I expected to see him at some point... but nothing. Once I made it onto the road back to the farm, I started picking up folks on TT bikes practicing for Sunday's duathalon. I even picked up a couple of the cat 4/5 guys finishing up their race... Mark was ahead of all of them I knew... but I didn't see him again until I crossed the line.

What a let down. I figure I was at least 15 minutes off the pace. Yeah, we lost a minute or so because of the stop, but most of the lost time was just not having the guns to stick with the field. It turns out to not have been a complete was of time. I ended up with a 21.3mph average over the 47mile course, on our own. So we got a 10 mile race and a 35+mile training ride at z2/z3+. So at least I got in a decent workout.

On the TOTAL upside, Dave Steiner made it over with the field. He said he kept waiting for me to make it back to the field... until Jeremy attacked at the end of the first lap. He dug deep, and even went off the front with an attack. The 5 cat 1/2's took off on the second time up the hill, with Anthony Rienzi from RGF. Anthony will be a cat 2 soon, as his upgrade is also in progress. So the cat 3 first place had got away. Dave stuck with the second group of 6... almost came completely off with a cramp 3 miles to the line... dug deep to chase back on, and opened the sprint to the line... he held on for third in the group and 4th in the cat 3 race! Rock ON!!!! Congrats to Dave for a very nice position in an extremely hard (for me anyway) race.

I wish I could have held on enough to actually contribute to his race, I had felt great on Friday, and had some real expectations to finish well. It may have been bad nutrition, digging a hole by only getting 4 hours of sleep on Friday, not have a 12/25 cassette for that climb, or just not having legs on the day... I'm not sure why I had the trouble I did. I hope I had a brake rubbing or something else out of my control..

Now my road season is over, and I've gone from the highs of podium places in the cat 4 fields at RATL, to getting popped after working to chase back on and succeeding at Valley City and the Fall Challenge in 1.2.3 races, to completely dropped for no good reason here... so I've covered all bases. So, instead beating myself silly for not making this race again, I'll chalk this up to a nice little workout that I doubled up with some light cross work on Sunday. Because, it is all about cyclocross after all.