Sunday, November 27, 2011

Baystate Cyclocross Day 2

I missed out on racing day 1 of Baystate, having to work instead. So I was well rested heading into day 2. Sunday's course almost everything thing I could have wanted. There were loads of greasy off camber sections, tight turns, a sketchy descent, some single track, a set of low barriers, and two sets of stairs. The only way I could have been happier would be to add more mud, a beer tent full of rabid drunks, and a sandpit. I do love a technical course, and this is one of my favorites.

I had heard via the interwebs, that the staging on day 1 had seemingly  been a random draw for anyone without Verge points. This doesn't really bother pack fodder like me, but I could see it being bothersome to some folks. Especially those who had fought their way into lower points, only to be randomly staged at the back of the field. Maybe we have gotten a little spoiled by the Crossresults staging protocol, but it does seem to work pretty well. When I picked up my number I saw that I was number 157, which I figured would place me near the back of the 75 man field Cat 3/juniors field, but I ended up in the third row behind the call ups. This placed me closer to the middle of the field.

The start was surprisingly clean, with everyone tearing around the track. I got through the stairs, and made sure to stay below the off camber for an easier remount. The first lap was a bit of a blur, I held my position well, but had to dismount as I approached the ride up in traffic. The mud was really tacky, and combined with the stair dismounts, it clogged up my cleats quickly. This made it difficult for me to re-clip, and cost me a spot or two. It also happened several times on my remounts after the stair sections. Aside from failing less, and staying on my bike all the time, I'm not sure how to keep my shoes from clogging up so badly. Maybe some kind of a Teflon spray for the area around the cleat?

Clogging up my shoes. Photo by: Mike McCabe
The guys passing me were a bit more timid(or smarter) on the steep descent heading into the woods, letting me get onto their wheels. By the end of the second lap, all the faster guys who were staged near the back had started making their way past me. I was able to stay close enough to make some of them nervous that they would fall to the mustachioed, Cat 3 "grim reaper", but my gentleman's slide had started. With 1.5 to go I found myself in a mini battle with HUP's Robert Hale. Normally the only time I see Robert, is at the start, before I see one of his styling HUP kits disappearing ahead of me. I was a little shocked to see him coming up behind me. It turned out that he had flatted, and fought his way back up.

I now got to experience being chased by my own personal reaper. It did get me to ride much faster, so much so that I overcooked the tight turn right before the hop onto the pavement. I pretty much rode right into the last tree, much to my amusement, as well as that of Jeff Bramhall who happened to be watching that part of the course. Thankfully Robert saw it happen, and was laughing even harder either of us, and was unable to make an attack. I gunned it as hard as I could through the last section past the pit, and up the hill to the off camber before the track. I was determined to hit the track first, and make Robert sprint around me. Thankfully I did, and was already in my high gear when I hit the cinders. I wound up, and held Robert off by a couple of bike lengths.

Edging out Robert at the line. Photo by: Mike McCabe

I finished up 43/75, making it one of my better Cat.3 results in terms of Crossresults points. It should net me a slightly better starting position at Warwick. I also was a little surprised to see PJ come through the finish line after me. The mustache finally got him! I'm baby stepping my way closer to front half of the field. It's a little premature, but maybe I can cancel my appointment for a "Cat 3 Pack Fodder 4 Life" tattoo across my stomach.

I also had the terrifying realization that cyclocross season is almost over. With no realistic way to finance a trip to Nationals, or Master Worlds, January will find me itching for a race; Like a junkie looking for a hit, I'll be on the lookout for a snowy bandit cx race.

Post Race Observations:
The Good:
-Sometimes random staging works in your favor.
-Stayed upright through all the muddy/off cambers.
-I had good power on the track.
-Had a great battle for the last lap.
-Finally beat PJ. (Shhhh, so what if he was staged way the hell behind me.)

The Bad:
-Squandered my better starting position, by letting too many people by me.
-Hugged a tree mid-race.
-My mustache makes people in front of me ride faster.