Monday, December 8, 2008

Boughton Farms, 2008 Finale

Robert Sroka Photgraphy

I can do this two ways. I can fluff it up and make happy faces or I can just lay it out. So at the risk of being laughed at or merely thought of as "crazy" heres what went down at Boughton yesterday to close out not only the Lake Effect Cyclocross series, but the 2008 racing year.

Boughton was cold, windy and covered in snow. Like windchhill near or below zero and 20mph winds and gusts cold. There were only a couple patches of bare grass and they were getting soft and a little muddy, but not bad. My 2nd row start was a good one and I was sitting maybe just outside of the top 10. I dont know if its Karma, but I started mouthing off across the open field. More in jest than serious because I knew we were all nose to tail. I was just saying "we can go faster". Then I started looking left and right of Brent Evans to see if maybe I could sprint around before the corner and low and behold I swerve off the single usable lane and go into a tire track full of snow.

I dont freak out, I just keep hammering trying to get back up to the line and then my bars twist and I hit the ground. Brett Davis and Rick Adams both told me after the race that their immediate thought was "hes not getting back up". It wasnt as bad as it looked. Today my necks a little sore, but thats it. The fall at Spin's race was a 12 on the Richter scale. This was a 3 and I popped up, straightened my brake hood and got going again. I was very disappointed at myself to say the least, but I turned that frown upside down as they say. OK I was fucking pissed alright?

I really dont want to spend as much time talking about this as I could, but it seems I am a first lap crasher and that is NOT a reputation I care to have. I'll work on first lap hard efforts next fall. My coach Sean's already been informed we step it up next year for Cyclocross.

Now I am really on a mission. I am hammering and passing people anywhere I see some smooth ground. I know when passing Dave he must have thought I was about to crash about 5 x in about a minute. I was crossing up the bike in spots and slipping and sliding through the singletrack. Across the field into the headwind there was a little stretch about 1/3 of thw way across then another at the split. When i would be drafting someone and we got to the split, whichever way they went I went the opposite then dropped the hammer to squirt past before the fun left hand bend. Yeaaaah-baby that was fun.

I was in search of a certain Team lake Effect jersey filled with Tony Marut. I didnt expect to catch him unless he was having a bad day in the cold. As it turns out he had a Great day!!

I caught site of Halloran and Domonic, but I had a full length of the farm fields to make up. Big gaps everywhere. Hammer, Hammer, Hammer. When I eventually passed Jason and caught Thom up front of him was Brett Davis and two Lake Effects jerseys. Wow-so much more ground to make up. Hammer, Hammer , Hammer.

But me and my Dieringer SS are just having a good ole time. I find out how slow I am in the corners still when after passing Brett he asked to be let by in the woods, but I am racing and I dont want to take any chances so poor Brett's all over the brakes behind me cussing as he loses his momentum.

The next little bit gets a bit fuzzy but a real battle started to brew with myself and Craft, Thom and Rudy. Back and forth we went and we were all battling to beat each other off the barriers into the woods. For Craft and Rudy it was to gap us in the woods (I am guessing)and for Thom and I it was to not only to put the other behind as many other guys as possible, but to have the lead when we came to the hill on the backside. That was my plan. Craft had the barriers figured out and zinged past on one lap into the woods.

Also as a side note for myself at maybe 3 or so laps to go as I was going across the field with the tailwind I look to to my right and I see a big group of guys including Quinlan and Brent and some other familiar jerseys starting to sprint across the field into the headwind. At the time I was trying to do a headcount to get a guess on where I was, but it didnt hit me till later from how far back I came to getting the 2nd group within eye sight. Last year in the snow I was almost dead last and I really never crashed as much as just slipped on the ice as everyone else did. things to make you smile.

OK so remember when I said I was just gonna lay it out about the race? Well here it is-true, false, delusions of grandeur. WHATEVER!! I came into the race no more trained than any other, but I felt all week like I was gonna be ready to stomp. Waking up dehydrated and hungover Sunday didnt even deter me. I drank a ton of water, ate well and just kept my Positive mental attitude. So after blowing it AGAIN on the first lap (Spin, Broadview Heights, States) and charging back (more or less big mistake free) time and time again I have to think, what IF I finally got up to the front on lap one and settled in? OH well, I am not gonna cry over spilled milk (or spilled Ray) and just use this as I do as motivation for next year.

With two to go Thom, Craft, Rudy and I are still locked in a back and forth battle. Thom beats me by a foot into the first woods and that sets the tone really for the last lap. Across the field for the last lap Craft dumps it hard and I almost crash into his rear wheel, but this time I am able to swerve right and NOT fall off the road into the ruts and continue. Now its Thom with a gap, Rudy then myself. I try to get Rudy as we head into the headwind, but he sprints and I get caught in the deep snow on the left. Great move on Rudy's part. I gut it out hard once backon the hard pack and catch back up, draft and then when we hit the split I sprint as hard as I can as soon as Rudy went right and just get ahead to go down the left hander. Rudy almost passes me back in the 180 sweeper after the pumpkin but I lead over the barriers into the woods. whew!!

Now I have to catch back up to Thom. I am quicker in the first part of the woods, but he gaps me coming out, I close it between sections then he gaps me a bit again as the 2nd is harder or slower in a big gear. We finally come out of the twisties with Thom a few seconds up and I close it down between the two right handers and try to pass him going up the hill because I know once we hit the downhill he can shift past the gear I am using and maintain the gap. Tryingot srint all out and keep traction!! I know Thom's body language and hes going hard, but I get right on his wheel, but I cannot get the pass done up the hill. We head down the hill and I am glued to him. I let a small gap open in case he makes a mistake in the 2nd to last corner I wont lose momentum and can go past. But hes clean in the right hander and we both sprint to the left hander and hes not only clean but faster than the last few laps and we go across the line nose to tail for 8th and 9th. A fun battle with those 4 for sure and an action packed last lap for me!! I love racing!!

So I dont improve my finish for the points sadly. My drop was a 9th and thats where I finished again. But again like a broken record I guess I cannot be too upset to come back to the top 10. I figured out a few riding things in snow too. I did tumble down the Overall order with Tony getting two 2nds in two races, Brent and Shawn just showing up to put points on the board and Dan scoring well in his 4th race. The points race made for a fun motivator and something to think about between races.

And I did every race this year on my SS. Thanks Zak for building a killer light, great riding, sprinting and climbing bike. Its tough too!! Goodness knows its been abused a couple times. I hope some of that training carries over because it sure makes for a good strength workout! Congrats to all the A and A Masters racers. I had a blast racing you this winter. For those who got to see me dump it numerous times this year I hope you were well entertained and not too detained. For those too far ahead to ever see me, well I'm coming. Dont know when I'll get there, but I am coming!! First is to stop crashing!!

As others have said, well be seeing you guys on the road next!! Thank you Marut's, Bike Authority and the Lake Effect crew. I really do love cross now. And I have you all to thank for it.

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