Monday, October 29, 2007

Orrville CX, A race-Ive Been Lied Too!!

A sunny 50 to 60 degree day met us at Wayne College for what some were saying (complaining?) was a Euro style course. After the last two great BA courses that offered multitudes of challenges for me it was fun to face a course with simple corners, lots of grass, asphalt and a bit of single track. To be honest I loved the course and I thought it had a great rhythm to some of the sections.

The A's lined up with some fast roadies like Paul Martin, Jeremy Grimm and all rounders Rudy Sroka and John Adams. Also last B race winner at BA Fairport Cameron Jackson has stepped up to the A's for the Orrville races. Mark Lopresto missed his B race so he too was lining up for his first A race.

The ~1.5 mile course starts at the end of a wide blacktop road that leads onto the grass over to a short rise and around a tree for a 180 and down between some evergreens and a long run to the first only set of two barriers. At the whistle I got right into my pedals and was 4th or 5th. I sat down and settled in behind Rudy which was a mistake because Dave Steiner passed me, but I somehow got back around before the 180. Dave got me again as we made our way through the trees , but Dave went a bit wide, I went wide and had to hit my brakes hard. No harm, no foul, but it did open a gap to Dave and Rudy I had to now close.

I got through the first barriers clean (quite tall ones too i think) and then its a long grassy run to an easy 90 to the right. I followed Dave to the corner and re passed on the exit as we headed towards the parking lot again on a long run of grass. This grassy section was harder then the previous and shaded better from the headwind. Another right up a small rise and now your running parallel to the parking lot and again the grass is soft making progress a bit harder. I am breathing hard, everything is burning and the lead group is going away!! So much for my pre-race plan of staying with the leaders for as long as I could. At the end of the run your at the corner of the parking lot into a really fun sweeping 180 down off the grass into the parking lot. No brakes, just turn, lean and get ready to sprint!! The parking lot was quite large and we went end to end right back into the wind.

The next section was really fun too and it was a wide open 90 into a sweeping downhill left hander (decreasing radius) out of the parking lot up into the grass and up around some more evergreens. Think of that section as a fishhook shape and I was leaned over right on the side blocks of my Michelin Muds forever it seemed. From here it was a serpentine run through the trees and roots and pin needles and pine cones. I am hammering and leading my group, but the PM, Grimm, Adams and Sroka group already have an increasing gap.

Out of the trees and up and over two very short whoop de doos like on a motocross course or rollercoaster ride then into this really bumpy hard packed dirt path into a strange little corner. Not more than a slight bend of a turn, but with a fence on the right and soft ruts on the left and bushes and tall grass on the left a smooth line was important. Next up was more soft grass, this time a medium long run to another 90 degree right turn, again with bushes on the exit, around the bushes to the left into some really soft rutted grass and a fast left with a large pond on the right. Fast into a blind left hander that dropped steeply into some single track.

The line was critical here because you could carry a lot of speed, but if you hit enough ruts youd start to drift left instead of making the sweeping right across a wood bridge. Off of the bridge it was more moist dirt, a slight bed to the right with roots, up a short steep dirt hill and back inot what looked like a children's story book backyard. Very scenic if you took the time to look, but grassy and uphill winding to an asphalt path. Through the twisty path up to where you started on the asphalt road (again slightly uphill) past start finish and back into the grass. Did you get that? It was a 5 to 6 minute lap I believe so lots of laps to be done in 60 minutes.

I kept my head down and kept trying to see if I could catch Rudy who was now just off of the lead pack. On the third lap I got stupid and decided I wasn't dismounting like I had practiced and I changed my dismount at the barriers and almost went down. I somehow managed to stay on my feet in a squat, got stood back up and was able to jump the two barriers. Zak said nice save and he had to go around the barriers. I was breathing Heavy and decided to back it off just a bit and to just dismount however I had the first few laps.

I now noticed now that our group wasn't a group at all. Only Zak Dieringer and I were together, but I could see behind, but pretty far back was Cameron and behind him I thought I saw Dave Steiner. I stayed on the front I think, but I was now starting to think strategy. I figured Rudy was too far gone to catch (though he was still very much in sight) and I figured I was setting a pretty hard pace and was hopeful that we would distance ourselves from the rest. So how to play the race? At first I thought I had better let Zak around and I was making it easy by blowing different corners, but he stayed in my draft. Eventually I blew the odd bend, went wide just into the weeds and picked up a branch in my rear triangle. Zak hesitated then started to go (not attacking) while I tried to pull it out. I finally yanked it with all my might and it came out and I sprinted along the grassy path to catch back up to Zak.

Now I decided that this was definitely our race and I wanted to come out ahead. so I didnt come around Zak and I learned. I think it was about 32 minutes in and Zak's pace wasn't bad, but between drafting and being a gear or two lower in the grass I started to feel better and better. But more importantly I studied how to get through the corners so that if I tried to attack him on the last lap, he wouldn't just catch me in the corners. At first he'd open gaps through most of the corners, but after 3 or 4 laps I was the same 3 or 4" behind him all the way around the course.

When i saw 45 minutes tick by across the start finish I decided to test Zak and I opened it up all the way to the barriers, out across the fields and into the parking lot I sprinted and was going 4 mph faster then any previous laps. Zak stayed with me through all of it and I started to back it off a bit because I figured he was strong enough for my attacks, but I kept the pace higher then the last few laps anyways. I was worried that maybe I would tire myself out, but I stuck with my plan. Out of the woods and into the backyard and up the hill I drilled it again and now I could sense he was dropping away by just a few feet (where as he was usually within inches as I had been).

Past the start finish I kept pushing through the grass, around the tree and to the barriers. I nailed the barriers clean with a good remount and sprinted again and noticed it was really quiet. I looked back and Zak was gone. It felt awesome to have made a plan executed and took a gamble. Had I not attacked Zak and pushed him for a whole lap he probably would have made it to the finish with me and who knows who would win the sprint.

But now I had a new problem. As I was running along the parking lot in the grass I noticed John and PM going into the barriers. Still a big gap, but you have to figure they will be gobbling up 30 seconds a lap so I kept on it even though my place wouldn't change. My new goal was to not get lapped!!

I pushed through the finish area one more time hoping to hear the bell, but no bell! But the bell rang for others behind me and the leaders were getting closer. So again I pushed and I worked hard to maximize Smoothness, not speed in the corners and found with every corner I was coming out in more control and with more speed, not less. My go in hard, brake late and hard and turn method was going away and being replaced by earlier, smoother braking (or no braking at all), turn and pedal out. I learned a lot for such simple corners.

So through the start finish area again and its now over an hour I am very happy to be done and I didn't get lapped!! But what is this?? They hold up one finger (not that finger) and say one more lap for me. Turns out I am the last guy on the lead lap and need to go around again. I am sure I'll get lapped now, but I look back and no one. John and PM had there sprint and I was left to go around one more lap. Victory lap for me as far as I am concerned. I beat my guy, got 5th, was ahead of 4 or more guys who had beaten me at other races and I didn't get lapped on a fast , short lap time course. All good for me. Thanks for the guys and gals cheering from the side and thanks to Zak for a really fun race together. I am sure it was a bit scary behind me at first with all my bobbles.

Now to address the lies!! You guys said cyclo cross was 60 minutes of pain!! I know I went all out because mid race I could taste breakfast, but my stopwatch said I did 69 minutes, not 60!!! Lies, lies!! :)

I'm really loving cross regardless and cannot wait for the next race. Thanks to Katie for the great pics yet again.


Rick said...

nice job, ray. I knew that layout would be good for you. I didn't care for it as much though.
Maybe it was the dead legs I had that day.

Ray Huang said...

I DID, I DID like the course. The corners were fun and fast. Nothing wrong with that, but I too would have liked another set of barriers, a run up or an off camber curve tossed in. The course was brutal in that you never got a bit of rest the whole lap.