Monday, September 29, 2008

Wendy Park Cross A-Race

Its Monday and I am SO SORE today. I feel it in my lower back and left knee, but sore everywhere. I thought all that running and some mountain biking (and crashing) would have saved me this day's discomfort!

SO I am torn on how to blog about this seasons cyclo cross. I could do full out race reports, just do the high and low lights or ??? I guess I'll just start typing and see what happens.

Wendy Park I am told is a landfill park. It has some elevation change and some odd bumps which Lake Effect used to great effect for off camber obstacles. I congratulate them on making a first race course that was fun and challenging enough to make you pucker a bit at times. but not so tough that newbies would be afraid to come out again. Read Gary's blog for a good description.

I lined up in the 2nd row for the A's on my Dieringer Single Speed. I got some looks for it with guys wondering if I was nuts. But i think running a SS on most courses this year will allow me to be a stronger time trialist next summer, but mainly to allow me to concentrate solely on one thing, bike handling skills. Not worrying about what gear to be in or bad shifting problems when the ice starts to form on our spokes and fill our multi-speed drivetrains. I guess you could say I am trying to get cyclocross down to its barest elements which are going as hard as you can for an hour and getting through the technical bits cleanly and hopefully quickly.

I always start a bit slowly in cross. It takes me a few laps to figure out how fast I can go and not fall or to start taking elements quicker or sometimes slower. Or to just get off the brakes entirely and let sections flow. I was having issues in warm-up with toe overlap in the 180 downhills, but by race team I figured out to ride them with my toe a bit down and turned in. Problem solved.

The single speed really makes you look at the course in a different way. You have to maximize your advantage where you can. But I realized that I was actually quiet fast on it in some sections. A lot of sections actually. For example on the gravel at start finish and believe it or not up all of the short climbs and out of corners, even though my cadence would drop I was still strong and could make up the time I lost in other sections.

But I lost most of my time with the tailwind on the road section and up the climb after the big tall concrete curb. Had I been able to hop it like Greg Jackson and Ernesto I could have ridden up it, but one tiny mistake and I would have had to hop off mid way up losing gobs of time. A 42/17 was rideable, but only with both feet clipped in already and some forward momentum. So I had to run, which wasnt that much slower. What was slower was hopping back on at the top and starting in that 42/17 still going up!!

One thing I learned last year, my first try at cross is to know your limitations and then dont try and do things your not capable of. Lost time in cross race is so hard to make up, especially at the sharper end of the field against strong guys. My point being was that I can hop a curb like that maybe 1 in every 5 tries, but I know I cannot do it in a race with pressure on even once so I had to commit to running up that hill as hard as I could 8 times and NOT try to jump back on and ride up it.

The race got interesting with two to go when I was following Rudy who was way out ahead of the A-Masters. I was hoping to learn some new lines and looking back I had a big gap on Thom behind and was falling pretty far behind Matt Weeks. But all of a sudden I hear someone and its Thom. We hit the downhill and I botch the right hander onto the gravel and hes right on me now and as we head around the grass to the asphalt hes right there. We sprint down the boardwalk and he eventually blows by and goes after Rudy and passes him too.

He nails the hill this lap and the whole lap we are close. I have to chase really hard through the grass and after the beach. I catch him and pass him after the beach and we run through the railroad ties almost side by side. We hit the bell lap and my back is screaming in pain probably from pushing that big gear on the SS hard in slow sections and the bumpiness of this course. But i can ignore the pain out of the corners in the fast sections. Its in the serpentine sections through the trees that it really hurts.

Again I am slow through the right hander at the bottom of the hill and I lose time to Thom, but I nail the corners before the asphalt (which is so much fun to come fying off the gravel and then lean it hard through grassy corners). Thom knows he has to be fast here so he pulls away on the asphalt and again he nails the hill by getting right back on his bike afte r jumping the curb (he told me later). I late brake and fly over the curb almost falling forward and run up HARD and this time I run about 10' more to get on flatter ground and I am off in pursuit.

Thom told me after wards he knew where I was stronger, but he had the gap from the boardwalk and hill so he knew all he had to do was go harder where he knew I was faster to maintain the gap. I got a good run through the beach and up and around the picnic tables but Thom was flying too. One last time through the railroad ties and around to the last few corners. Rear slides out hardcore on the gravel road, but I just keep hammering and around the fun sweeper down to the finish straight and Thom takes 6th and I take 7th 5 seconds later.

I ride off to the pits and when I get there I put down my bike and lay down on my back, knees up. What a hard race!! I stay there awhile hoping the back spasms will stop. But a top 10 in the A's with a SS!! The bike handled great and the gearing really couldnt have been better. During the race I heard a guy yelling encouragement then he sees its a SS and goes nuts!! One tactical error in not going harder for two laps near the end and letting Thom back in the fight, but otherwise a great race. You can never let your guard down on Thom because at the end of the race he will find a way to beat you.

Thanks to to the guys with cowbells and the spectators yelling for everyone. Got to love cross for the amazing support we give each other.

And thanks again to the Lake Effect crew for all the hard work and for setting up such an amazing course Sunday.

1 comment:

CycloneCross said...

Nice job both on the race and on the report - I really enjoyed reading about you going back 'n forth with Thom.