Thursday, October 11, 2007

Practice Makes......

Rain, yes rain, rain more. Thats what I was thinking all day yesterday. I wanted it to rain so when I got to Spin's Edgewater CX practice I could flounder around on wet grass in semi race conditions. It did rain, it was cold (49 degrees) and Zak did not disappoint on his course. Technical is what we were calling it, but I got to thinking about it more in auto racing terms and it was a course needing commitment. Like going flat out into a blind apex. Commitment.

I'll be honest, on the warm up lap I was thinking, maybe I'll just do my own thing. The course was kind of scary. But once the race started for our 5 laps (which finished in near darkness!!) I was having a blast and I didn't crash once and only once dismounted other then for a run-up or barrier. I really blew a lot of remounts though so I'll have to practice those more.

Also every descent was curving, two were off camber and they were all of course on wet grass. Two were full on brake affairs that ended on the gravel road by the lake. I heard that a few guys crashed at the bottom of these instead of taking a plunge into Lake Erie, but that might be a bit dramatic. And instead of going down the hill in the single track, we approached it from the other way and ran up it. My favorite descent was off camber downhill towards the lower parking lot then turn around and climb up the slippery leaf hill. It was fun because it was modulate brakes, get off brakes, trail brake to the apex (a tree) and grind up the hill all while feeling like you might just slip down the side of the hill due to the camber. By the last two laps it was so wet that my rear tire slipped multiple times up the hill. I need traction control.

I am constantly on these steep learning curves and thats fine with me. I like the challenge and I think its a riot trying to stay upright in these conditions. Thank goodness many of the local riders have been so helpful, but theres still so much to try and learn on your own. Like first time down the big long descent its all good till the bottom where the ground gets bumpy and being full on the brakes pitches your weight forward as you hit them. Every next lap I'd ease up more and more on the front brake as I hit these bumps and it would be better. In retrospect I now think that I should have let go of both brakes for the last 5' and just rolled onto the gravel road. But hey I made it 5 for 5 on every challenge last night so thats a plus.

Some things are just a matter of sheer will to overcome. You just have to drop in, see what happens, try not to screw up and definitely do it better then the last lap!! Sometimes you do, sometimes don't.

How did the race/practice go? Well I rolled around sheepishly for a lap then picked off a few guys who I had been following or dicing with including Gary Burkholder. I put in some big accelerations by the highway and across the open fields so that I was solo for the last 3 laps. A spin rider slid down the off camber descent when his cassette packed up with grass and he lost drive and I got by and pushed a few times to open up a gap. Up front Zak and Dave Steiner were duking it out and Dave attacked on the last lap to win and I came in third around 30 seconds back. I maintained the gap to them pretty evenly, but didnt push 100% to try and close it. Thom on his single speed finished 4th I believe which is quite an achievement considering this was not a single speed course this week (if Edgewater ever is).

In the end, Practice makes for more practice and some day maybe practice will make for perfect!!

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