Sunday, November 2, 2008

Chagrin River Cyclocross

Saturday was day one of a two race weekend. It was the race. I was again aboard my SS Dieringer and was a bit worried about the gearing. As usual I felt like it was over geared so it was going to be a hard race for me with all of the corners and singletrack.

Warming up I almost dropped my bike going around the right hander after the start finish line. It was getting soft and muddy so that was on my mind. Miraculously as the front wheel washed out I yanked the bike back up to vertical and kept going. You can only do that when your not tired-that I am sure of.

I got a 2nd row start and hoped for some of the magic from the Spin race. But alas as we took off (20 or 30 sec ahead of the A Masters) I just didnt get going and was about mid pack as we headed for the first dismount at the log. I had a plan in mind for the muddy little climb up to the road and it worked and I picked up a position. As we headed through he first lap I was behind Greg Jackson, Steiner, Tony Marut, Brent Evans among others and they were behind the lead group of Paul Martin, Ernesto, Shawn Adams and Twining. I tried to get Brent with an acceleration by the road, but he beat me to the corner and I tucked in behind for the gravel road till we cleared the RV turn and jumped again.

I caught Tony I think on the 2nd lap and again had to put myself seriously in the hurt locker to accelerate by. I was correct that I was over geared as well. I never once got on top of the gear. But technically I seemed to be riding better and better with each lap so that was helping. The less mistakes I can make the less I have to dig super deep to make up time.

On the 3rd lap going into the open turning section through the grass I realized I was barely 20 or 30 sec behind Ernesto and a further 20 behind Paul. THis was awesome to see and I tried to dig deeper in the open sections to close it down, but in the next three laps I had a quick fall (when I didnt come out of the pedal at the log) and the over gearing was taking its toll. The gap went the other way of good after briefly going my way.

But the race was far from over because watching the gap behind sometimes it seemed that Brent and Tony were coming back to me. As well as the A Masters, but they were too far back still to worry about. But what it meant was I was getting really tired.

I work on my speed in the corners, all of them!! Bit by bit I brake less and shorter and I try and use body english to keep corner speed up and grip on the sidewalls. IN the grass, in the mud, the off camber. Things Ive read from Ned Overand and other racers advice. But one lap rounding a tree (before entering the muddy singletrack) I go banzai and almost do a Witch on a broomstick and go face first into a tree pushing wide on the exit!! OK, so faster yes, but smack a tree head one??? Maybe brake a bit more next lap. I missed that tree with a jerk to the right by centimeters.

Then in typical fashion I see Thom Domonic starting to do his late race charge. Hes passed Tony and Brent and dropped them and is now catching me. I see him dangerously close as I head through the open turny section. We say Hi to each other as we pass and the race is on. And as he gets closer the signs at start finish read 3 to go and at 2 to go hes within 20 to 30 seconds or so at that same spot. The gap is pretty constant. Enough to get me to the line, but I go as hard as I can when I can. Then the turn before the mud bog I fall.

One of those silly little exhaustion falls. I dont know what happened and I can barely even remember it. But I get up, finish the single track, sprint for the line and no bell lap, race is done!! Not more than 20 seconds later is Thom!! Its quite possible had we done one more lap he would have caught me. I was really running on empty by the end with a screaming lower back and legs that felt like they had ridden a 100 miles of hills into a headwind!!

But he said after he passed everyone and had me next he said he knew I'd really dig deep to keep him behind and I did. He to noticed out gap stabilized a bit once I saw him coming. This was by far my strongest cyclocross race and I got 6th. The keg of beer was a welcome sight post race and I must admit to thinking longingly about a beer with a few laps to go!! Luckily Thom kept me honest and running hard. IT was just about suffering that afternoon. Pure and simple trying my best to ignore the pain.

A great event and very well run indeed. I had a blast and loved the course. I wish I had dialed in that start though because I burned a lot of energy trying to jump ALL of those guys and close gaps one at a time the first two laps. But I'll say looking up 2 or 3 laps into a race and seeing Paul and Ernesto as my next two riders was quite a....I dont know what word is best? It was cool!! Let me just put it that way.

1 comment:

Ray Huang said...

Heres the Tree I almost hit-talked about on crccycling's website: