Monday, December 13, 2010
The weekends for the last few months have been filled with cyclocross. Since my last post, A and I have done 12 more races (11 for Amber). The big one for each of us was the State Championships this past weekend. My goal was to win the 35+/4's on Saturday with a back-up plan of racing in the 4's on Sunday. But, before we jump to the end, let's recap the rest of the season.
Aspen Lodge Cross:
Easily the most technical course we encountered this year with very short speed sections, high speed turns, sand that skilled riders (i.e. not me) could ride and lots of cornering. The start was critical as there was very little opportunity to pass. I got off the line well but slid out in the first corner which dropped me way back. After that I took additional risks that caused me to hit the deck a few more times. Finished 38th. A almost didn't even start her race after crashing hard in her warm up and causing her leg to cramp bad. She ended up racing, but wasn't her day.
Blue Sky Cup:
The next weekend started at Xilinix for the second race there. The race actually started really well, but the proverbial excrement hit the air moving device on the 2nd lap when I slid out and dropped chain. Then I went off course twice. The final nail in the coffin was a crash going over the bunny-hop-able barriers (the ones that Amber is wisely running over in the picture below). That one really hurt. Limped home in 56th place.
Boulder Cup #3 at the Bowl of Doom (aka the Bowl of Death):
The next day, I was excited for this one as it was at the course that we ride every Wednesday morning for hot laps. Race went okay, but not feeling great (fatigue and lingering cold from trip to England) and ended up in 15th. Really like the picture below of Karen taunting Andy with Cowboy Bob and Amber screaming at Andy. I could write more about CB, but you need to show up at the BOD ride to find out more.
Race at the Rez and not really notable for anything. I think more fatigue was setting in and I didn't race as well as I thought I could. Didn't help that some dude pushed me into a hay bail on the first lap. Anyways, 18th.
New course at Flatirons Mall that looked like it would be just another grass crit, but turned out to be pretty tricky. Unfortunately there was a bad corner early in the race that was a total cluster for a lot of the races. Course that I should have done better at (esp since I stayed upright), but really fatigued and finished 20th.
Tried the 35+ open to see how fast that group is. It was fast, but wasn't focused at the start and not a great effort.
Alpha Cross #2:
Took a bit of a break after Schoolyard and got a bit healthier. Really excited for Alpha Cross as it suited my strengths with long power sections and little rest. Second line call-up, but crappy start had me in the mid-twenties going onto the grass. Moved up quickly though as most of the course was wide. Navigated the few tight turns pretty well and was in the top ten. Almost got onto the main chase group, but the effort to move up wore me out a bit. Kept the gas on and took a digger on the 2nd loop that dropped me behind two guys I had just passed. Kept pressure on and re-passed them, but they hung close. Moved up a spot or two for the last couple laps and finished in 5th, my best result by far. I also knew by the announcer's call that I wasn't loosing any ground on the leaders as I heard him call out the lead of the race at the same point each time. No pictures of my race, but Amber is kicking butt in the picture below.
The next day was a new course at the Union Reservoir put on by our former CU triathlon teammate Lance No Pants. Short course with a fair amount of speed sections, but with a fun trip through the BMX course each lap. I got up to the first line and got a good start and was in tenth or so going onto the grass. Which was good except I had to coast a bit behind the others and proceeded to have my chain drop on the bumpy grass. Stop, lose a lot of spots and fix chain. Really my fault for having my chain keeper too far away from the chain. I was able to move up a bit, but taking some poor line to do so which cost me speed in the corners. Kept the gas on and moved up pretty well, but not expected much out of the day. Dropped chain on 3rd lap as well. Lovely. Anyways, fought the good fight but expected to be in the mid-teens to low twenties. Surprised as anything to get 7th on the day (with 6th coming back to me quickly). Lance had chip timing which showed that my lap splits were just as good as the podium guys except for the two dropped chain laps. Great race to give me the confidence to go for it. No pictures of my race, but here is one of Amber giving it.
So same course as the first race of the year, but opposite direction. And instead of starting way back in the field, I had a front line call-up. Started really well (I like grass starts) and 5th going into tight section. Moved up to 4th on the first uphill section and latched onto the top three guys. Saw a chance to take the lead on the grass section with barriers and went for it. I took the lead in part since the next section had a lot of turns and I was worried I would loose ground there if I was following. Kept the lead through the finish line, but took the 1st turn too hot and went down. Dropped all the way to 7th or so, but the group was mostly together. Moved up due to crash in the lead group, but a couple of guys got away. Moved up to fourth, dropped to fifth, moved back up to fourth, got my brake stuck in my wheel like J Pow did this weekend (but i made a really slick move to kick it back into place), and finished in 4th. Really not a great course for me due to all of the turns, so I was stoked by the result. Again, no pictures of my race, but one of the lovely wife.
Boulder CX #4:
The next day was a new course at a big park in Westminster. I fell in love immediately as there was a ton of grass and hills. My goal was simple. Get out and hammer it. I was a bit disappointed that one of the guys that had been crushing it the last few weekends was upgraded before the race, but a big field again. Super start off the line and was third going onto the grass. The guy in second let a gap open up to the Ryan H (who had gotten a couple of podiums recently), so I moved up to close it up. Got on Ryan's wheel and stayed there a little bit until a long grass section where I took the lead. Kept the gas on until the downhill where I recovered a bit. Kept the lead through the technical section at the lower part of the course and hammered up the pavement back onto the grass and got a bit more a lead. The guys behind me kept getting fewer and fewer, but a few stayed within 10 to 20 meters. I could tell one guy (Dan M.) was moving up well and closing the gap. He finally caught me with just under two laps to go, but I was able to stay on his wheel pretty easily. I stayed there and watched him on the lower section to look for any weaknesses. I went around him before the finish line with a lap to go, but he stayed close. We swapped the lead back a forth again on the upper section and he took the lead when I almost missed a turn with my head down (oops). I stayed on his wheels through most of the downhill section, but let him gap me a bit since he hadn't taken a good line on one of the sections on the previous lap and I got back on his wheel in that section. Waited until nearly the end to make my move, but went hard, got around him and kept my lead to the end. Man, it fun to win. Jeeze, it nearly killed me. Again, no pictures of me, but the wife is better looking anyways.
Like I alluded to earlier, my goal by the end of the season was to win the 35+/4's at State's. Coming off a string of top five finishes and my win the previous weekend, I knew I had a chance, but depended on the course, conditions, and competition. Since State's was two days, I signed up for the 35+/4's on Saturday and the 4's on Sunday as a back-up plan in case something didn't go well on Saturday. A and I both "raced" the warm-up race on Saturday morning to get a look at the course as they really limited the times you could warm-up on the course. Learned a few things like it wasn't worth trying to ride the sand section and there were speed sections thrown around the course but often had tight corners immediately after them.
Front line call-up, but bad start as I missed clipping in and was probably in 2oth going onto the grass. Didn't panic and started picking off riders through the first section. Got through the sand section and surprise, the course changed from the practice race. Now, we had a section full of turns that I hadn't seen at all. Kept my position through there and luckily, no one was gassing it at the front. Moved up in the next few sections and got into 5th or so, but had some close call to get there. On the next straight section, I went full gas and went to the front. Got a small gap, but a couple of guys hung close. I took the high barriers section poorly (all day) and they got even closer. Stayed on the front for a little over a lap, but not able to drop Ryan H and Dan M. Let one of them take the lead after the high barriers and stayed with them. From there it was pretty much a three man race. We moved around a bit between ourselves, but I don't think anyone wanted to kill it on the front. I tried to go to the front a pick up a bit when another guy closed on us, but he was too strong and bridged on heading into the final lap. I thought my spot on the podium was gone when he went to the lead after the sand and only Dan got on his wheel with Ryan between myself and them. But, then the new leader had to stop and dry-heave in the twisty part. Go figure. So, it was back to Dan, Ryan and myself to duke it out and frankly, I was worried as I was toast. They slowly got a bit of a gap on me and were about 10 meters ahead with 300 m or so to go. That's when Ryan tried to get around Dan on the high side of the loose section and slid out. Like that, I moved up to 2nd. Quite happy with that. It's too bad that Ryan crashed out of the spot, but I played it safe all race to avoid that kind of issue.
State's Day 2:
Really wasn't planning on racing since I had a great race on Saturday and felt like crap on Sunday morning, but wanted to see what the speed difference was between the two groups and had raced the 4's last year and had a crappy State's a year ago. So, I raced.
Four line or so (no call up points for me, so luckily I had signed up during the week as it was then based on registration number). Much better start than the day before and was again 15th or so going onto the grass. Moved up, but two guys went off the front early. Eventually, one guy passed me a few laps in, but passed everyone else but the two guys off the front. Ended up 4th.
With that, I hit 20 upgrade points, which is the cut-off for automatic upgrade.
Now to the 35+ open.