Tuesday, October 16, 2007

October 13-14

So this weekend Matt Baroli, Jeff Weinert, and I headed down to the UCI races in Ohio. I drove down to Matt's house on Friday night so we could get an early start on Saturday morning. The ride to the Java Johnnie's UCI race Saturday went faster than I thought. Saturday would prove to be the first time I've had to wear my LS skinsuit because of the temperature. The course was twisty beyond belief, which didn't exactly suit my riding style the most.

I got a great start (3rd into the first turn) but quickly the two juniors from Papa John's put the hammer down and I slid back to the chase group. There were only one set of barriers to navigate, and they were on an uphill section meaning there would be no braking while racing into the barriers. Down and up another hill brought you into the sand volley-ball pit with a 90 degree turn in it for fun.

When I was with a group I managed to do ok through that section (not great...just ok) but I would find out watching other races that there were much more efficient ways to get through all that sand. Check one up for the "learned something" box.
At the end of the day I finished 7th out of 30 or so, which was respectable. I was hoping for a top 5 but I just didn't have it on that course with those competitors.

Sunday brought about a HUGELY different course than Saturday's course. Harbin Park is 1) Gigantic and 2) Hilly and fast. This course had a very difficult off-camber turn within 300 m of the starting line, so I pretty much knew the top 5 would be a necessity on the first lap. I applied some good advice from Saturday's event to Sunday's start, and sure enough I got the whole shot. 1st into that corner definitely helped, but I would soon fall victim to the two Papa John's juniors again.

This course was crazy fast, and even though it had some nice power sections, there were enough technical fast turns to make it not my favorite (but better than Saturday's!). At the end of the day I ended up with a group of 3 others racing for 8th place. I lost that battle in the sand on the last lap (again...sand gets me) and took 11th. 11th doesn't sound so good, but when you line up with almost 60 guys it isn't so bad.

Important thing #1 from this weekend was that I had an absolutely great time. Important thing #2 from this weekend was that I learned more from this weekend than I have all 'cross season. Knowledge is everything when it comes to 'cross. I guess fitness is important too. And bike-handling skills. Ok knowledge must be up there pretty high anyway.

See ya.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sandy Creek

Special thanks to Thomas K for capturing this great pic of the winning break!

Man. Sunday felt like I was in a sauna for 45 minutes of sweating. Aside from the heat, it was an amazing day of racing!

When I left Alma it was already warm. It's october, so why fix the air in the car? Days like this, I guess. Warming up for the race was difficult at best. With that kind of heat this late in the year my body does wierd things. I never really know how I'm going to react until about 2 minutes into an effort. Then it's either good or bad, and there's no tricking myself into thinking bad can be made into good.
Luckily for me, two minutes into my first effort I was feeling great. Great is not the right word, because I was riding 'cross in 85 degree weather, which is never really great in my mind. I'll take 50 and rainy anyday for a 'cx race. Anyway, we lined up for the start with the usual suspects minus Roger (Two Wheel) ready to take it to each other. I got a great start behind Scott from New England (in town for a wedding). He went pretty hard but I was very concerned about going at it too fast and blowing up with the heat. I let Scott chill out front for about a half a lap before we gradually caught him going into the first sand 180 degree turn.
Our lead group was relatively large after the first lap (8 strong?). Rolling through the finish line we turned out a pretty good lap. It wasn't long before our group dwindled to 3/4 with a Tree Fort racer dangling on and off the back with Cory Stang, Scott (from Mass), and myself working pretty well together. At the pavement on the bell lap I put one hard dig in and popped Cory and Tree Fort off the group, but Soctt was able to hang. I was pretty maxed at that point and was hanging on with everything I had.
I knew going into the beach run that I needed to be in front to have any chance of gapping him after the run, but I just didn't have the power to get by on the sections that were clear. Scott gave about 5 hard pedals as he jumped on the bike and had a 5 m gap pretty quickly. That's all it took to pop me off, so I rolled in for 2nd place.
Considering how fast our times were compared with other races (we beat both masters classes...which doesn't happen every day) I am pretty happy with 2nd place. It's better than 4th at Bloomer and I'm getting faster.
Next up is the two Ohio UCI races. Matt, Jeff, and I are headed down. I hear other MI'ers are going to show...Foshag, Wiz, Card, Steele, etc. Hopefully we'll be able to light it up.
See ya.