Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gran Prix of Gloucester

Day 1: The weather was pretty wet the night before, and it was still raining when I arrived at the venue. I was pumped up when I saw the course layout  I prefer the twisty, technical courses. For me, the more dismounts the better, since I like to run aggressively. The traditional large run up from the water was there, the normal barriers were replaced by stairs at the beer garden, the barriers were moved into the ball field, and they had added a flyover this year. 

 I started 102 out 150 in the huge Cat 3 field. I was able to get a decent start, moving past a lot of folks up the pavement. I got stuck at the run up, which was a real mess by the time our field got to it, but was able to shoulder my way through the crowd at the top. I was very comfortable with the flyover, taking the stairs two at time, passing people who were 10 yards ahead of me each time through. I eventually made contact with my cross-clash foe Mark Bernard of HUP, and we fought back and forth for the rest of the race, along with young Ian Keough. With 2 to go, I took a beer feed without really thinking. I wasn't able to get much of it in my mouth, so I dumped the rest on my head, to the delight of the crowd. Of course that was a bad move for many reasons, two of which being that I couldn't see, and my helmet smelled like beer. In the final lap I was about 15 yards behind Mark and Ian when we hit the pavement, due to swinging a little too wide through the sand. I caught them both napping, with a good sprint, and by the time they saw me it was too late. I suspect that this is the only time I will ever be able to say I out sprinted a Keough, so what if he is 14. I finished 86th, which beat the cross predictor. 

Day 2: The course was drier, but the conditions were much colder. I wasn't feeling very well, and spent most of my morning volunteering on the course. I missed out on my chance to preride the course by a few minutes, but could tell by looking around that I wasn't going to enjoy it much. The only section I was really excited about was the ramp down to a soft sand beach, followed by about 30 stairs back up to the course. I got in an okay warm up, but it was wasted due to the 30 min delay of our race. It turned out that the septic system had overflowed, leaking raw sewage onto the course, and they were routing the course around it.The whole time we were waiting, the cramping in my gut just kept getting worse, as I got colder.

 I kind of wrote this one off, after being shut out at the start, unable to move up on the pavement. I still managed to latch onto PJ before we hit the ramp down to the beach, but then I quickly remembered the cardinal rule of last season. "Don't follow PJ's wheel!". He hit a really soft patch, pulling to one side, sending me under the tape, still clipped into both pedals. The stairway was kind of hilarious, making the traditional run up look roomy. Someone at the top had a megaphone, and was throwing out some great heckles, I even had to laugh at him catcalling my mustache.
Photo by Rich Foley

Based on my handling performance, I am pretty sure I used up all my steering skill points on Saturday. So not only did I lack power on the straightaways, I couldn't seem to make up any time in the few technical sections. Between the wind, and my stomach I was miserable. The highlight of the day was getting a dollar at the beer garden. I was laughing with the crowd because I didn't know where to put it in my skinsuit, it's just not one of those things I had ever really thought about. I lost several spots while I was laughing with the crowd, but I didn't really care at that point. I held off one guy in the finish straight, with a substandard sprint, finishing 102/147.

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