Monday, November 19, 2007

The Real Race Report..yawwnn

I must admit that sick little voice in my head was hoping for bitter cold, rain and mud. Why not? Well it rained all day Saturday, but Sunday was in the 40's and the sun was out. No doubt the course would be sloppy, but having never been to the Fields, I really had no idea what to expect.

After some fun trying to find the parking lot, then driving my minivan up and over a curb and trying to not to disrupt the B, C race going on I got on the course and my first impression was, this place is HUGE!! I rode on and beside the course, stopping often to not get in the racers way and walking the muddiest sections in the singletrack. Wow was it ever muddy in spots and in my first descent of the Cannondale C turn I fell. Not too hard, but not a good way to start the day and I was filthy. I make it no problem the 2nd lap so I am feeling you know 50/50 on the C.

I am really in a quandary about the tire pressure. I am not gentle in my riding style, but I know for a fact if I could run my clinchers at 25 it would help, but with all of the ruts, curbs and wood to hit, I am afraid of taking out more air then I ran at Spin's race last weekend. I do take a little out before the start and I didn't pinch flat and I hit some ruts and logs pretty hard all race long.

What an A field. All the top local guys and then some are here. Look at the race results and the top (including Masters) is pretty hardcore.

I arrive a bit late for the start at the base of the run-up and end up in the middle of the 2nd row with 27 others. A record A field I hear. I feel confident of the run-up if nothing else so I brace for a hard start and again I am a bit slow off the line, but I sprint between the two guys I was lined up with, but they converge to close the door and I just dive right in hoping they will move enough, but it all happens fast and I start to bounce from mr. left to Bill Marut on my right. A few feet of this and I lose the bike underneath me and almost like I am sitting down I fall right into poor Bill's bike.

Enough adrenaline is already pumping I get right up, chain appears to be on and I go, but I see in my peripheral vision that Bills standing and I truly and honestly feel bad and hope he doesnt have a race ending mechanical. The dynamics of crashes are such that I cannot tell you if it was 100%, 0% or 50% my fault. But regardless I hit the climb 2nd to last and make some much needed positions on the run-up.

The first lap is uneventful with me making the C on lap one and slowly picking off places 27 through maybe the top 20 by the end of lap one. Lap two were already really spread out due to the differing skill and speed through not only the open fields, but the long, twisty, rutted singletrack that had two log barriers and probably a 10 to 15' stretch of deep mud out of a slow corner. I tried to stay on my bike except for the log barriers, but Dave Steiner for example would run a large portion of it while guys like Rob Franz cleared the entire single track without dismounting.

On the 2nd lap I put in some big efforts and moved up two more positions, but crashed on the C for the first time. I am up in a flash and figure that wont happen again as I didn't take a very good line at the very top and tried to drop in faster without using any rear brake. I probably lost positions, but in the next run-up I could ride quite a ways up and when I'd dismount I had usually made up a lot of ground on anyone in front.

Up the road are Wilford and Lesco and at first they seem so far away, but a charge across the soccer fields and a fast run across the field off of the asphalt descent and run-up and I am right on Wilford as we hit the top and then I pass Larsen on the sidewalk. But lo and behold i fall again on the C. This time it gets in my head and I am fast to get up to get out of everyones way, but slow to get going.

I dont recall much in the next two laps except that I make the C the next lap and fall really hard while taking out one of the plastic (thank goodness) posts that holds up the perimeter tape on the following lap. At this point I am seriously considering riding to the technical parts of the course and watching guys like Adams and Marenchin and learn something. The wind is out of my sails, but when Rob passes me back I think Ive got to salvage at least this position because there is no catching Lesco and Wilford now. So again I pass Rob in a soccer field and as we approach the disintegrating log by the parking lot I somehow hit the log funny with my front wheel and when my rear wheel hits I tumble over. And poor Rob is another casualty of war and goes down.

When we both get up I apologize and I literally let him go. We've got 1.5 more laps to go and I don't have the stomach to put it down in front of him for the third time. Theres no one behind me after Shawn laps me as we hit the descent. Its fun to see how fast and effortless he can bunny hop off the road into the muddy grass.

So I am just plodding away at the end of a race for the 2nd week. Not happy with myself, but when I hit the C my left foot accidentally or maybe intentionally unclips and low and behold I fly down the descent, I am off the brakes really early and fly down the hill for the first time. I take this mini victory and go hard across the field up the last run-up and across start finish and since I was lapped I forgo the "victory lap".

But after the race I ride back to the descent and do it one more time just like during the last lap of the race and my confidence is restored. A least I can start from a position of confidence next week instead of "my goodness, what am I going to do about the C next week..Waaahhhh". It was pretty slippery already so if it rains next Sunday and the C is part of the course, maybe caution is the better part of valor and I'll dismount and run down it as did some.

Later that evening the wonderful timing and scoring team of Team Lake Effect has the results up in record time again. Major props to everyone who helps put these races on. You guys and gals work your tails off for us and I know all of us (even the ones without blogehrea) appreciate it so much. But wait, this is all about me right?? So I check my results fearing the worst and I am 13th out of 20 in Expert and 18th overall out of 28!! I had made it as far forward as 11th Expert and of course 16th overall. Lets be honest, without 5 crashes thats only two or three posotions back from where i expected to finish anyways. Mark Lopresto was congratulating me for getting so far back up into the race after my pre-race trepidation and quick start crash. I wasn't feeling that worthy then, but I am really happy now.

I was pretty sore last night and today I went to see the Master, Todd Palmer LMT, NMT. For three hours we worked on learning new strengthening exercises, stretches and much needed Masotherapy.
If anything a day like Sunday teaches you that theres so much more to being a complete cyclist then threshold power. There is core strength, technical riding ability and experience, lots of experience. And now if they can find a way to make me bounce like Bumble the abominable snowman I'd be all set!!

Onto the next race with confidence!!


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

Nice job Ray,
I got some good pictures of you and the A and Masters
I'll try and get those on soon
Hopefully we'll have just as good turnout on Saturday. We might run the course backwords. Are you going to States on Sunday?

Ray Huang said...

Thank you. I am not going to States because of family. No double racing weekends, though I should go!! Cannot wait to see the pictures. Did you get any of me on the ground-that would be funny to see.

Scott said...

Nice job Ray! Last year this was a muddy affair as well. I had to hose off my kit before I put it in the washer!

I'm really missing CX racing this season, but will be back next year.

I'm not sure it will really feel like cross out here in Cally with sunshine and no mud to speak of, but I'll do my best to cope with it:-)

Ray Huang said...

Scott-You can always take up surfing or buy yourself a Murcielago and cruise the beaches!!

Glad your safe and sound in Cali.


Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

I did actually get a couple of you falling, lying down in pain, crying( just kidding), and racing too.