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.