It's all in the details.
The family was off doing their thing this weeknd, so I thought I'd shoot down to Kirtland park on Saturday to help team Lake Effect setup for the Sunday race. A nice day to ride through the city... without the back pack. Arrived at 1:00 and most of the work was done, so we did a bunch of laps and scoped out the course together. It was cool.
Sunday morning, I again arrived early to help with the remainder of the taping, and just hang out.
Cool things I saw this week... lots of "hipsters" came by to watch the action. A guy walking his dog was asking if we were handing out turkeys... and during warm up on the Norht Marginal, a group of guys were playing bike polo on a tennis court near the Muni parking lot. How cool is that?
Tricky parts of the course were the west end stairs, the off camber crossing and the twirl of dizziness, with rain it would have been a twirl of death. Then there was the uphill in the amphitheater and the bumps on the descent. The bumps were probably the worst thing going. Lots going on, and little space to recover.
On Saturday, I rode the course with my Michelin Muds. I didn't like the idea of riding down MLK with tubbies, and what the heck, it wouldn't matter anyway, I'd be doing pre-laps on Sunday.
I've hear the best investment to improve your time trialing is to purchase a helmet. To improve your cyclocross, tubular wheels and tires are the way to go. That said, tubulars totally open up your setup options. That's why the cyclocrosser greeting is "Hey, what pressure are you running?" Infinite possibilities... an infinite way to choose right... or wrong.
In mud, I'm pretty safe with 25psi. Last week at Kent, there was little mud, and I ran about 30psi. This week, I was thinking the same, everything was pretty dry. I forgot that for more than half the race at Kent I thought I was getting a rear flat.
A nice feature this week, Rudy had the top 10 in the series move to the front line. Thanks, I'll use that as long as I can. It put me next to Gerry Pflug and Ernesto. So my goal was a good start and fall in behind them for as long as I could.
Well, I think I found the problem with my starts. I couldn't figure out how I would be near the back almost instantly. This week I changed up my crank position, and was ready... and I realize that when Lynn counts back from 3, half the field is already moving on 1... I'm still standing there waiting for "GO". Gerry must think the same as I do since I got his wheel for the straight stretch, and lost it around the first turn.
Quinlin stacks it in the second straight, which causes some braking but everyone got around. I was in the top 20 at the top of the hill. I ran the stairs the first time up, and the race is away.
Short laps... at nearly 1 mile each, Lynn had estimated 5 minutes per. First time up the amphitheater hill, I'm off the bike again. Things are spreading out pretty quickly, though as the leaders pull away.
Second lap, I'm riding the west stairs. I'm having serious trouble turning though. If I'm in the zone, I can dig the two wheel drift. For some reason, I do not trust my tires today, I want them SOLID through the turns. Every turn I'm giving away speed, which means I have to dig hard once out of the twisty bits to gain it back. It seems to be going alright though. I'm ahead of the guys I think I should be, and behind maybe two that I have been beating most weeks. Time to get to work.
I put in a some good laps. I have trouble with the dizzy twirl, and the turn entering the theater. I also have a hard time lining up the bumps. I was so much better yesterday.
About 4 laps in, I caught Jeff Craft when his chain dropped off. I had been hunting Jeff and Nate Lohman, so one down was good for me. Jeff jumped on my wheel once he had it figured. I came around for the ride up the stairs. I told him I was not happy with my tire pressure. I think I could have gone to 35 for more grip on the dry stuff. He takes the lead into the theater... On the hill, he takes a line that I was NOT expecting, and I hit his rear wheel... am off the bike, and remount. He climbs off and calls it a day...
Then I put together about three of the WORST laps ever. I stall on the stair climb, and wrench the twirl. Chip Meek comes at me for the next time up... and I stall again forcing both of us off the bike. Then I get tangled in the tape on the twirl and he's by me and gone. Blah!!!
I contemplate asking my son to get the wheels I ran yesterday... I throw away time on every turn... and the concrete around the stage is TERRIBLY slow thinking I'm going to slide out every lap. Ugh!
Lynn gave 5 to go, and I loose another place to Derek... and see that I will almost certainly get lapped today.
4 to go, and Matt Weeks is closing in me. I get through the theater and the bumps, and he makes the pass before the east stairs. I think I can catch Derek in 2 laps.... we'll see.
Paul catches me somewhere, and I let Gerry and Ernesto have the line on the bumps. Quinlin is closing, with others close behind. Run for my life again on the last lap. Derek stays just out of reach, and I sprint to hold of Quinlin. He probably thinks it was hillarious, but I have to salvage some pride somewhere. I was only lapped by the top 4.
Mistakes, blah. I don't think I've ever wished I could do a race over... but I certainly wish I had this one to try again. I watched Ernesto doing some pre laps, and should have seen the speed he carried through the 180s. I should have known then that there was a problem with my setup. I certainly knew it two laps in.
All in all, 20th place is alright. I lost at most 4 points in the series. I'm still sitting about 10th in the overall, since 4 guys moved up just because they showed up. This wasn't my worst race, and at least this time I can point directly to where my problem was. A learning race then.
Great course and good times hanging with everyone this weekend. It was a blast.... Thanks Lake Effect and a special thanks to Lynn and the other volunteers for the work you're doing... and putting up with all of us.
One more to go. With my form this season, I'm hoping for something a bit muddy... and a descent setup.
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