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.