Monday, October 6, 2008

Leroy Center CX race-getting better!!

Who was that timid guy warming up Sunday for the Leroy Center Cyclo cross race? Who was scared to try to ride the ditches? On first try he stopped cold in the mud and the next try endoed bashing his shins and hurting his left hand? The same guy who freaked out on the mound of hard dirt and concrete and stone chunks and unclipped?

That guy would be me! But once the race started I hit the mound and cleared it slowly, but without problems and when I approached the first of the deep and steep ditches which was the marque section of this new CX course I was full of confidence and i cleared one and two every lap without a hint of problems. Dismounted quickly for 3 (and rode it a few times)and rode through 4 and 5. A lot of guys and gals who were riding (not running) the ditches would swing out into the road for more momentum, but I found I could just come up, do a 180 and drop right back in and up saving a lot of time. That timid pre-race guy has got to get his act together.

The race start was busy with just a quick dogleg and 180 before the barriers and a field of 21 A racers. All the usual suspects were there too. I got into the top half of the field and then laid back. I didnt get in front of some fast guys because I honestly didnt want to crash in front of them or ride the techie bits slow. The funny thing is some of those guys have crashed right in front of me before holding me up so I dont know why I always feel so obliged to not want to ruin anyones race or slow anyone down. Especially since I can race pretty clean, if not a bit slow in the techie bits. I mean really, thats part of racing and after a lap or two-I am not in that zone anymore.

I think on lap 2 I had cleared the ditches cleanly and I am slow, but able to negotiate the mound so I finally open it up and when i do I go past at least 4 guys I was racing with in between two corners with a hard sprint and I am off. My best section was coming out of the ditch section after the gravel road. I could really drill that section past the ball fields and around to the start finish line. I was on my single speed again and I must admit it was hard accelerating in the grass all day on it. That was a surprise because the ditch section was hard on my legs with the SS.
Leroy Ctr CXTP photo, Plank and I dueling
I put time into the group with steady pressure and was looking for the next rider and I see Mike Plank of Spin. It takes me a few laps to close down the gap and I really push through the fields and I finally get him, but he is staying close. Those laps were probably a lot faster than the rest because I realized I had really closed down the gap on Rudy and Tony Marut too. They were having a nice tight battle as well. As I entered the mound they were just exiting.

But the effort to catch and keep putting time into Mike in all of the open fields at full HP started to take there toll. I kept an eye on Mike behind and an ear on Lynn counting down the laps. 4, 3 and finally 2 to go. On 2 to go I saw that Rudy had put time into Tony and they had both pulled out more time on me as I entered the mound they were now gone.

During the race I was thinking not only about being clean and riding better and better lines in the technical and curvy sections and getting the weight just right for the ditches I also thought about Julie's blog post about the pre-hop while remounting. Well, I'll be damned, I hop not once, but sometimes twice before remounting my bike wasting time and energy.

So I worked on that and as long as I cleared the barrier or ditch clean and set my bike down without a bounce I did the superman jump, got my inner right thigh and was clipped in and back to cranking on those Dure ace cranks in a flash. Why do I think about this stuff mid-race? Heck if I know. Maybe it helps a tiny bit to forget about the pain. Sometimes out of a ditch or barrier I took one step, set bike down, jump and clip in!! Very, very, very fun and rewarding, but still needs work. Did anyone see that?? Nope, not a soul in sight. But that was whicked, ok, back to pushing that gear.

I completed the last lap, back hurting again, but not as bad as last week and rolled in 7th!! I am very happy with that considering my first two laps. I think I could have gone with Rudy and Tony had I been on their wheels at the start. I know my first lap is one of many weaknesses, but like all things I am working on them slowly but surely. I do want to be as good as I can be at cross. I definitely think I made some headway in bike handling Sunday and that's great for me. Dismounts and slippery and/or slow cornering are gonna take a lot more work.
pic by Todd Palmer
Now I have one question for the top 6 guys! How come Dave Steiner and I were covered from head to toe in mud and 1/4" thick layer on both shins while all you guys were clean with a powdering of dirt (on body and bikes)? Well later I saw pictures and at least Rudy was smart enough to ride around the middle of the dirt puddles. I rode around them in warm-up, but told myself at race time, straight through the middle and go fast. Well, it seems that going around was probably faster. Not only did you not bog down as much, but you didnt carry an extra 1 or 2 lbs of mud on your body and bike!! and mus loves grass so now youve got mud and grass collecting in your brakes and sidewalls too
Notice the mud on shins, TP pic
The harsh reality of cross also set in with a lengthy hosing off of both bikes, hitting the mud encrusted shoes with a bristle brush and drying in the dryer. And the muddy kit? well lets just say Oxy clean is Da Bomb baby!! But still I wrote CX on the labels in the shorts and bibs. These ones are now broken in and ready for a full cross season.

That was fun and thanks for all the hard work put on by the promoter and staff.

1 comment:

Feel It: The Factory Rider said...

Great write up as always. I got those ditches nice and wet just for you ray.

Something to think is Ernie got very good on a single gear in cross. then went to gears and look at him! maybe in a couple of years Ray VS Paul Martin!