Sunday, September 27, 2009

One hard ass race!

Matt Turi really had a nice canvas to lay out a great course and he did not disappoint. It was fun and challenging with UCI height barriers and perfect placement. And the weather was picture perfect cross. Overcast, a bit cool and raining. The ground was soft enough that we got some mud and puddles.

The course suited me really well with the long grassy sections and the long hill before the tricky, but fun hill section that reminded me of the late Broadview Heights hill. But it all comes down to the start and I really wanted to be aggressive this week. I got a great start, but let myself get shuffled back a fdew guys and that ended up putting me out of the top 15 of about 40 starters. I was kin of upset till I looked at who was right in front of me. A lot of fast guys and it remained like that for a few laps.

I was acclimating to the technical stuff and trying to be fast, but conservative and remembering to use proper technique. In the end I was just cautious, but I got away without any crashes and after last Thursday that was a good thing as I was still sore to the touch in spots.

My early race was chasing down Halloran, Brent Evans, Rudy, Chris Mahew and Ernesto. You know your in the fight when you can see just up the grass Shawn, Ernesto and Tony. Too far to realistically catch, but you keep trying.

Catching Chris and Brent was brutal. It took pulling extra hard across start finish, up the hill to the first set of barriers and especially up the long grinding hill. But after catching them and going back and forth I think the steep hill in this picture ended up being a big decider. I was able to climb it on the bike 5 of the laps and they started running it earlier.

Robert Sroka picture

Then Rudy came by and started to ride lines that just put me to shame. Everytime around a tree or down a hill into one of the slippery corners hed pull more and more and more gap. He had a good 10 seconds going into the bell lap and I started chasing hard and taking a few more chances. I had a scary moment around the brick wall corner when my front washed out and I got an eyeful of brick wall, but somehow got through upright. I pushed hard after the barrier and short run-up and closed the entire gap on Rudy on that one hill and got right on his wheel. I should have ridden past to force Rudy to follow me down and up the hill because he made it on lap 6 and I had to unclip the last 2' to the top of the hill.

But I stayed right on his rear wheel and even overlapped it up the hill, but my rear wheel slipped once then twice and Rudy smoothly rode up and got the gap he needed from there to the off camber. I went extra cautious so as not to fall so I could chase him down all the way to the finish. But Rudy would have none of it as I went balls to the wall down to the 180 in the little pocket of trees, up the hill and around the screaming CX fans in te final 180 (what a simple but awesome corner) and to the start finish and didnt make a dent in his lead. Way to go Rudy!!

Wow, what a race. This competition and effort in cross has its unique appeal. Its so damned hard and unrelenting. When you race someone and put time into them if you dont keep pushing 110% your sure to hear them coming back on your wheel and sometimes even fly past as Jason Halloran, Scott Gartman, Chris, Rudy and Brent all did to me. But I suppose I did it right back to them as well.

You might be surprised to read I literally rode myself into the ground and physically i'll for the rest of the day for 11th and you know what? It was a glorious and hard fought and I am proud of myself. IT was an awesome course and I had the hammer down my entire 58 minutes. The competition from the gun till the bell was fierce and I am improving like last year. My dismounts and remounts were so much better than Wendy park.

Thank you Stark Velo for a well run event and Lake Effect (Lynn Marut) for that little pep talk everytime through start finish. It comes form my heart when I say you guys (and gals) mean so much to me personally and to the local racing scene. Keep it up.

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