So to start the fun Kristie and I drove down with Kona. It didn't take as long as I expected, which was a nice change. I had tons of time on my hands to check out the sweet heated GIANT tent that Matt Baroli has been setting up at all the cx races. Kerosene heater and all...it was a great place to sit on the trainer and not get cold.
On my first warm-up lap on the course I was amazed at how much I actually liked the course. Now granted it is Waterford and there's only so much you can do, but I really thought Joe and the crew did a great job with what they had to work with. You'll always have the ridiculously bumpy infield and that horrible section after the long downhill by the guard rail, but considering all the elements at play I was pretty happy with how it all turned out.
At the starting line we got a call up based on the series points, which was great because I got to pick my spot right in the middle. Granted at this time there wasn't only one nice smooth path down the finish straight; rather there were 200 lines all crossing each other. I knew there were a few things I would need to do in order to be in contention after the first lap. The start is obviously crucial in any race. For this course, I wanted to be first on the first lap in four spots. The first left turn on grass, the first barrier set, the first tricky off-camber turn down the gully, and the first into the second set of barriers.
I took it out as hard as I could to make sure I wouldn't get into trouble with my first three goals, which in this case came fast and furious. After I had a good gap on the first run-up I put the hammer down in the only places I could, which were the straight sections of the course. Nobody was gaining huge time in the corners, but you could definitly lose huge time if you made a mistake. So I concentrated on working my rear off through all the power sections while recovering and taking it easy through the turns.
After the first lap I knew that if I let anybody catch me I was going to hear about it from Jeff. See, previously at the first Vet's park of this year, Cory and I took it out HARD on the first lap. I had a very small gap of around 5 seconds on him going into the finish line on the first lap and I figured I wasn't going to be able to hold onto that. I eased just a bit and let Cory catch on, only to be dragged around for the remainder of that race. I took 2nd to Cory that day and got a (good) earful from Jeff about that...so I wasn't going to let it happen again without a fight.
After I had my gap I just tried to control things as much as is possible in a 'cross race. This year there seem to be a lot of guys close together in the B-field. For one, Cory, who showed he has the power of somebody much older than him. Tony dropped me like a lead weight at Munson and can run through sand with motor legs. Patrick and Justin aren't easily out of sight and Roger has been known to throw it down as well. David also came on strong at Munson. With so many people to watch I just decided to take it into my own hands and make as many people chase as I could.
Man on my last lap all I could think about was not crashing and not breaking anything on my bike. Coming across the finish line I probably had the dumbest smile on my face but I didn't really care. Seeing Gordon at every finish line this year and the support he's thrown out has been great. It was a great feeling giving him a high five and then seeing Kristie, Shannon, and my inlaws (Mike and Karen). Mike even brough Tink (toy poodle) who was wrapped up in his coat to keep warm. Not what you expect to see at a cross race! (apparently Kona got a bit tired from the cold and had to go sleep in the grand prix...)
Next year will bring a whole new level of pain while racing for 60 minutes. As Jeff said, it's only a matter of time until the "new guard" starts to overtake the "old guard." Joel, Eric, Matt, and Andy all slugged it out this year with the big dogs. I guess I'll have to live up to the big boy knickers and step it up one more notch. I've never been more excited to step to the next level.
For now I'll be skate skiiing with Kristie and watching her coach the JV Alma girls bb team. I'm looking forward to a bit of time away from training. I hear ice cream and oreos calling in the distance.
Next year isn't far off and we're already planning for a BIGGER and BETTER Ithaca GP of 'cross for 2008! Stay tuned for updates...
Also I found all my old pics from when I used to race. I'll be occasionally posting up a few that I got scanned into my computer.
Thanks to Kristie, Matt Baroli (and Lisa), Jeff, Tom K, Matt Janko, and the team for a great season. Also thanks to all that came out to support our 'cx race. Good luck to all those heading out to Kansas. I believe the last time nat's was there they had a freak snow storm and sub-freezing weather. Again?