Monday, September 24, 2007

Kirtland Park, oh pure sweet hell

Square wheels' Paul Salipante running the steps
I had a feeling during warm up that today might be alright. I hadn't fallen once and I had made all the 180's in the amphitheater (AT) successfully. I'll admit I came the day before and Brent helped me tremendously on the technical bits. I got lined up on the first row and when the bell rang I sprinted off but let myself get boxed out and raced down to the first turn and got a few guys at the end, but when we made the 180 someone in the top 5 fell and I had to unclip and go around and start from a dead stop.

We went through the rolling section along the trees and hit the first run-up. As I entered the baseball field I realized how far ahead the top 5 already were (Tony (team lake Effect) then Cameron (RGF) , Lesko (Stark Velo) and someone else) so i set off in pursuit going down the off camber hill to the 180 (where a rider short-cut it and got an earful for it too) and over to the light pole and around the soccer field it was all balls out. I am not sure where I was on lap 1 but somewhere around 5th spot so already a big jump ahead.

Lap 2 starts and I sprint and bury it the whole way down to turn 1 again and get a couple more guys. I am now in a 3 way battle for 3rd spot and we pass and re pass depending on how well we carry momentum. Parr gets me in the off camber hill and I get him back on the soccer field just before the narrow door (that was a tight pass) and off to the AT again.

On lap 3 were already hitting traffic and I think I change my line for a back marker down the 180 on the western end of the AT and I overcook the bottom and start to drift down the next embankment. I try to ride back up but I stall out and pop out to look back and see 3rd and 4th bearing down on me so I wait for them to pass, clip in and get going again. Major time lost not only one 2nd, but now Tony who's already way ahead!!!

Brent and John have told me cross is about not losing time so I curse myself, but I stay calm so I don't push too hard in the technical bits and make another mistake. But I hammer the grassy flat again and I am back by both and after the run-up and the baseball field I don't hear anyone behind me and I am going after Cameron who's going really strong in the flats too.

At some point I get him and I push hard because I know Ive got to make up a lot of time to Tony who's at least 25 seconds up the road. I push and push and I am pretty happy with how I am doing in the AT, run-ups and getting back on the bike (keeping moving forward). What i am not happy about is how I am through the snake part of the course. I am pushing too hard I think and keep missing apex's and feel slow.

I get a perfect gauge of how I am doing compared to Tony as I enter the baseball diamond. Early in the race I was in the baseball diamond and he was already around the 180, but soon I am exiting the diamond and he is coming right at me. I am sure his dad's giving him gaps and he can surely see me coming and I see him out of the saddle sprinting the soccer field. We also cross each other in the flats by Marginal and I am getting closer, but I know time is running out.

In the last 2 laps we hit some serious traffic and I am sure it slows us both down, but the last time through the baseball field hes opened up the gap a bit again. The guys are yelling at me in the AT to sprint out of every corner and encouraging me which is awesome. I go really hard all last lap just in case he bobbles, but really hes got it in the bag. John had told me hes a smart cross rider and probably the one to watch this race so he was right on that.

I cross the line second in the B race and Tony Marut wins. Cameron fades at the end and gets passed by Eric Lesko. Results here: So I finish my first cross race and maybe the most technical course (in terms of raw terrain) of the year and was about 20 seconds behind the winner. I'll take that as a great beginning.

I really like the style of racing in cross. First you battle the course, all the bumps in the grass when your hammering, the loose dirt in spots, sharp short descents and painful run-ups. Its all new to me but I am trying to adapt as fast as I can. My dismounts and remounts have improved a lot just since last week at Edgewater practice. I know most of the top 5 today had me in the technical bits, but it was a power course too with lots of area to open the throttle. I am learning a lot of things the hard way too. Like when suit casing your bike up stairs, if your front wheel hits a step-you get it right in the chin and mouth. My teeth hurt a bit today I think from me socking myself right in the face multiple times. Then theres the man to man battles. Burying it to bridge gaps and hammering by to try and drop your opponent as fast as possible. It has an aggressive edge to the competition which I like. Soon we will have to battle bad weather too.

Now I know why they call cross pure sweet hell. Yes to all of the above!!

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