It's HERE! Finally it's cross season.
The first race of the year was at Wendy Park near Edgewater, which seemed to be kite capital, and the Cleveland Browns stadium. Driving in, I could smell the meats cooking. Hmmmmmm.... but I'm hungry for some cyclocross. Another Browns highlight, arranging for a flyover for the cyclocross race... a pair of US Marine C130's at about 1:00... a little late for the start of the B's and a little early for the A's start... but still pretty nice.
Team Lake Effect again did a nice job of putting together a challenging course with a good mix of pavement, gravel, off camber turns and elevation gains. They did a nice job of using all the park had to offer... even if the park also offer lots of glass causing quite a few flats.
I used history as a guide... since last year was a WICKED bad flat fest, I brought two sets of clinchers and as a back up to the back up a set of Vittoria tubies... cause that's how I roll, bring lots of extra wheels. This year, I will not be bringing the Surly tank as a backup bike. It's SO heavy compared to the race bike I figure I'd only grab it if I broke my race bike in half.
Early arrival again, I got a couple laps in before the B's went off. No master's field this year, so I'll be racing the A's. I think this is a good move on the Lake Effect guys part, bigger fields should help other guys move up and not sand bag the B race. It's always better to be racing someone... even if it's not the guy that eventually wins the race.
Being nice weather, EVERYONE showed up. There were 60 guys in the B field and 40 in the A's. I got a second row spot, out of about 7. The blew the whistle, and the guy in the front row misses his pedal, and I'm immediately about 20 places and 10+ seconds back. Through the first set of turns, and a team mate slides out on the off camber... I make it around with minimal delay, cause I was going high anyway.
It's pretty cool being on this team, cause there were so many guys on the team there. I think there were 9 team spin guys in the A race, and a lot of B's hung around to cheer. Always makes it more fun. So we hit the pavement with a few team mates, and we're off in chase.
Somehow it sorted out that Mike Plank, Dave Steiner and I are rolling in chase of Jason whose in a group with Ross from Solon and Jimmy Mac from Cornell. There's another big group ahead of them, but you race who you're near. We're working a bit together, though it's not like we're truely organized. I took a big pull coming back along the pier, and up over the rise, and look back and Dave is GONE! I had no idea what happened to him until after the race.
I ended up pulling Mike around for a lap... and then I must have taken a nap or something, cause he pulled a gap... then opened it up considerably. Nap... yep that would be nice about now. Brett from Solon ends up catching me, and Dave is chasing. Brett and I roll around for a lap before I give him a few second gap with 3 to go... I can't let him get to far away... I think I can bring him back in the last two.
Dave is gaining slowly, and I'm maintaining on Brett. With 2 to go, I start pushing harder... so I must have been napping for a bit there. I'm gaining slowly on Brett, through the pier and up the hill, Dave catches back on when Brett is about 20meters ahead. We catch him at the sand, and Dave gives a go. Brett and I stick with it and I jump up to Dave through the barriers. I have a feeling we've got Brett on the ropes, so it's sprint out every corner. Dave and I are encouraging each other. Brett is gone, and I hang with Dave for another half lap before he opens a gap on me. No pressure from behind so I roll in as hard as I can.... and boy do I hurt.
Spin did pretty well considering the guns that showed up for the first race of the season. We had 5 in the second 10 places... and probably could have had more without the flats that plague Wendy Park. I'm thinking that Wendy Park is as hazardous as the goat head cactus in Colorado.
I ran my Michelin green file treads and was happy enough, though I think full on tubies would have been nice.... but a little to nice to risk the punctures. I've got to work on my cornering again though. I was playing it pretty gingerly on a few of them.. either not trusting my equipment, or afraid of going down and hurting my already tender ribs. Either way, I'm happy with my overall performance for 17th. Sure I would have liked to have been fighting it out in the lead chase group, or even have been going for the top 10. Realistically, I think I can improve in a few areas right away, like staying focused throughout the race. The other goals will need to remain in the "stretch" category.
I have to say I feel like a rock star with all the lenses around. Special thanks to Robert and Victor Dvorak for taking some great shots of the race I've included... They got a lot more on their sites. They even make me LOOK like a rock star!
And you know, it doesn't matter how well you go as long as you look good doing it.