When is a win not quite a win? When you go across the line doing this but not knowing Wiz had abandoned early! Hey, a win is a win, but next time maybe I'll know how to cross the line.
Crossing the line in 2nd...I mean 1st...
Sunday was a great day for 'cross in Michigan. Kristie and Kona made the trip to Rochester with me which is always fun. Racing at 1:30 allows for a reasonable wake up time compared with when I was in the B's and leaving at 7:00 to drive to races. Having a personal photographer and cheering section is also nice!
Hats off to Robert and the crew who put together this year's edition of Bloomer! That course was FUN and took a que off of the Icecross in going for a bit more superprestige-esque-ness in course design. Of course Robert could have left out the fun dirt downhill and "singletrack" section that wasn't singletrack, but what fun would that have been? The double pits were well thought out and the course had flow to it - much like a USGP course.
Pack racing was the order of the day for the 35's and 45's. The SS class was scattered throughout.
So at the line we started with seven SS'ers among the Masters 35 group. A flat pavement start is never too fun for anyone with one gear, as you quickly spin out and have to relax while the field takes off away from you. This race was unlike any other SS race I've been in though because we were pretty much one big group of seven or eight through the first two laps. I had a pretty good gear (albeit a bit light at times) for the day but it always left me gapped on the pavement sections. Fortunately the finishing pavement area had a dirt switchback turn, which drastically slowed the group in front of me, allowing a brief moment of contact. After going through the first barriers, however, it was hard maintaining contact while spinning out my gear.
Up in front was a mean group of 35's along with Mike Wissink, Eric Kohler, and Rich Stark, all riding SS. Sitting in fourth to those three didn't seem like a bad place, but with two to go I saw Eric pop off the back of his group, which was now starting to explode. I grabbed a mental gear, which pretty much involves questioning why the heck I decided to buy a bike with one gear anyway, and dug in for a half lap to try and close the gap. When I finally made contact after the barriers by the pit I decided it would be best to try and push the pace because Eric makes me look like I pedal squares on most days. After digging deep to drop him I came out of the velodrome area with a bit of a gap. John Osgood and Curt Potocki were screaming at me and I heard something about Rich getting gapped...sure enough when I looked up I saw the orange gloves popped off the back of his group too.
Drilling it over the barriers for the last time, trying to catch Stark the Shark.
One to go and a gap of eight seconds or so to Rich. He was pushing a 42 x 16 or something insane like that, which made my gear look like a tricycle against his monster truck. Apparently doubling up and racing both in the Elites and SS was too much, as I passed him up the singletrack-ish climb. Figuring Rich isn't the kind of guy to go easy, I buried it for the remainder of the lap, checking over my shoulder every once in a while to make sure I didn't see the orange-gloved man gaining ground.
When I crossed the line I figured I had taken 2nd to the Wiz, but not wanting to screw around with the points series he pulled off before crossing the line. Hence, the red box for me.
I can't ever know what it was like to watch that race, but the group in front provided a great pace for me with one gear. Tactics, positioning, and good old fashioned racing ability played a big part in the 35's and 45's. The Specialized crew did well with Wiz taking the Elites, Princess Seaman popping off a rare sprint victory in the 45's, and Wayne holding on to fifth place in the SS.
Holland should be fun, and another chance to ride with gears this year. With states around the corner I can only wonder what the weather is going to bring in the coming two weeks. One thing is for sure, it is getting to that time of year when people are either getting faster or slower and not much in between. Next year's plans are already being set with new and revised goals to finally make the jump to the big boy's club.