Monday, November 12, 2007

Spin Cross my Heart-The Race 8 vs 1

After the shock of the first laps are over and all of the obstacles are cleared I settle in and find that the pace of our group is a tick below what I think I can do. So along the grass perimeter I open it up and go around a couple of the guys. At first I didnt want to lead us around the technical bits, but now I have watched good riders fall and know that I am feeling confident. I dont know when it happens, but our group becomes Zak, Thom and I. Right behind is John and Dave Steiner and up ahead all by himself is Jeremy Grimm.

I am so excited because my wife and daughter, brother and his girlfriend are here and cheering. My brother and I have been racing karts together forever so he gets right down to telling me my place and gaps. He says I am 6th and I am like "HECK YEAH BABY!!-In the top 10!!"

I push the pace for awhile and that gets off the front of my group with Thom and Zak now a few seconds behind. But, I go off course behind the utility buildings and Thom calls out to me. How embarrassing!! And now I am back behind Thom instead of in front and I get back to him, but still in front of Zak and John.

The middle of the race sees Thom, Zak and I go back and forth. Now my bike is only 8 speeds of ancient Ultegra bits, but Thom is on a single speed!! I will admit this course is better then some for a single speed, but 8 speeds is still an advantage over one. Just shows what a stud Thom is being today. In fact, its because of Thom that I learn how I am losing time on the course. By pre-shifting to an easier gear approaching hills and starting out of 180's in such easy gears I am losing a few feet where I should be putting down some power. So I start to leave the bike in bigger gears and my speed increases and clearing the slippery ascents also gets easier because I am arriving a few mph faster.

Eventually the order sorts itself out. Zak motors past me by the river and just flies up onto the fields, through the trees and across to the barriers and his gap is cemented as is my gap to Thom. I am now 7th and my brother says I am catching Grimm so I am hoping i can get back 6th. Then Paul martin whom I wrongly assumed was lapping me (so early too) was actually coming from a mechanical to blast through the field goes by. I try to stay on his wheel, but he is gone in no time.

I also watch Zak catch Grimm and I know it might be over for me and as I predicted Jeremy picks up the pace, dropping Zak and increasing the gap to me. But Zak surges again and drops Grimm as I start to make time on him again.

Now I have to say running up the hill was murder. Not only was I slow, but it hurt like a Mo Fo and trying to run and push as hard as I could was definitely faster then walking up, but by the time i got to the top I usually was walking. Just trying to put the bike down soft so as not to drop the chain was hard!! By contrast Thom and Zak could just fly up that hill. When i was with them I could muster the will to stay on there wheels and re-catch them later in the lap, but once they gapped me I think I was going up that hill at a snails pace. It really had m number mentally and physically.

But regardless I am absolutely fried and on one lap I am sprinting through the start finish and thinking about yelling Ring the bell (for the last lap), but I keep my mouth shut. As it turns out my internal clock was right because we ended up racing something like 75 to 80 minutes and I was probably going through the Start Finish about the hour mark!!! My wife commented after the race that it looked like I gave up with two to go and that was about right. I am not quitter, but this was about as close as I came to it. But heres how this unfolded.

With two to go my gap ahead of Thom is solid and Grimm is probably within reach, but it will take a huge effort I am thinking. An effort i am willing to make, but then the wheels come right off the wagon. As we approach the mud trench I step right in it. No harm done, but what a mess. When I do the up and down and up I decide this lap to ride the last down up, but I dont get clipped in and I grind to a stop. This area is fast for Thom and I know it so I run as hard as I can, remount and get going and push my pace really hard. Then we get to the off camber, a corner I have done better in my opinion then even Zak or Thom who often slip or unclip. I keep making it while clipped in, but this lap, the most critical of all the rear tire snaps right out from under me and I dot catch it and I go right down and lose a few seconds getting up because my right foot is clipped in. I get up and get going, but this is right before the steep run-up and Thom is by and gaps me big time up the hill. I try to chase, but when we get to the short hill behind the utility buildings I stall out again!! Race over. With Zak, Paul and Thom going by I have now dropped from 6th to 9th.

I take a look for John and at first he looks really close so I try and keep the pace up, but when I hit the baseball diamond and go through the mud I see hes quite a bit back. I cannot close the gap to Thom who by the way catches and passes a cramping Grimm. Could that have been me without all of the mistakes? Its hard to say, but its possible.

So I decide a clean, if slow last lap is what I need and of course all I am thinking about is running the trees AgAIN and going up that steep run-up AGAIN. Wow, what a mental mind "screw" those two were!! So through the trees again, running up the hill, across the road then of all the $@#%@*# things I blow the downhill 180 and I go DEEP into the 7' tall weeds!! You'd think I'd have had enough of stupid mistakes after such a clean day of technical riding, but apparently when I screw up I screw up All the Way!! The reeds are so damn long that it takes me a long time to get out of them. Thank goodness I had that gap to John or for sure he would have eaten me alive in the sprint to the line. Then on the run to the fallen tree I jump and hit the face of the tree with my foot, but I just take it in stride and sort of drag my foot over it, land and run to the top.

So once more to the off camber and I clear it better then any previous lap (wahoo-one small victory). Every lap I will my hands off the brake levers here as well as down the sandy 180 to the river. Crazy talk right? Funny the inner monologue that goes on all race long. "Get off the brakes, get off the brakes, RELEASE the BRAKES".

So I sort of run up the hill one last time and scream down the hill. I wonder, from a physiological standpoint what makes Zak, Dave Steiner and Thom so different then me that they can run up hills so fast? I know I don't have much in the way of fast twitch so is it that? Or maybe its the way I use my muscles in my pedal stroke that leaves them to loaded up to run? I don't know, but Thom and I talked about it afterwards and hes always been a good runner. But you'd think a lighter bike and 20 less lbs in weight would help me fly up run-ups. Not so it seems.

Again, my daughter ringing her cowbell and my wife and friends cheering me on, my brother giving gaps made this one special race for me. Its a bummer I had such a miserable last two laps, but hey-the race went long and I left it all on the grass, mud, hills and asphalt!! Add to that a great course, wet and cold conditions I went across the line in 9th very happy and very relieved it was over. If I have one regret its that I got beat by a SINGLE SPEED!! Congrats Thom!!

Bring on Cross my Heart and Hope to Die 2008!! But like I told Greg Jackson after the race at the wonderful award ceremony at Willoughby Brewing Company, lets just add a ski lift for the run-up next year!!


Gary said...

I can only imagine the misery I would have faced, had I not flatted on the 2nd lap. When you were going up the hill, I'm betting you were real glad that you'd shaved some weight off your ride earlier in the week.

Don said...

You're looking mean and focused. Keep up the great work and don't let John get on your wheel. :-)