Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cycle-Smart Intl. Day 2

The crash at the start of Saturday's race, and my non-stop need to pass people after that, left me pretty wiped out. After having a tasty High & Mighty Purity of Essence IPA, and one of the now famous Jeremy Durrin sausages, Sarah and I left for our B&B in Easthampton. We checked into our room, got cleaned up, and then headed back to Northampton for dinner. At dinner we saw the weeenar of my race, Chandler, spending his winnings on some sushi. Chandler suggested that I call up Todd, since folks were headed out to the Dirty Truth for some beers. Since I had almost fallen asleep face first in my miso soup, I decided that some after dinner ice cream doping was a better idea. We drove back to the B&B, and I followed up the ice cream with some sleep doping, falling asleep at 8:30pm. This was not counting the daylight savings change, which means that it may be the earliest I ever have fallen asleep.

On Sunday we headed out to Look Park early in the morning. I was hoping to photograph the Men's Cat.4, and Women's 3/4 races, and cheer on some friends. I loved racing in the 4's last year. As a 4, you aren't racing for prize money, and nobody cares what you are wearing or riding; You are simply racing, because you LOVE cyclocross. I may have gotten slightly faster and upgraded, but I am still a 4 at heart. As I've gotten to know some of the 3/4 women, they have become some of my favorite people, period. Lodri, Cait, Cindy, Megan, Starr, the list goes on and on. The level of enthusiasm and support that they show, not only to each other, but to the whole cx community just exemplifies why I think this sport will continue to grow. I think everyone should be cheering these folks on as much as possible.  An early morning beer hand up probably wouldn't hurt either.
3/4 women ripping it up.

After cheering on my friends, I had to get myself ready. I got in an inspection lap, and was excited by the course layout. It seemed to flow together nicely, and I was happy that we wouldn't be shuffling up the loose run up again. I was a little worried about the sharp descent into the 90 degree left turn, knowing that it would be a dangerous spot in a crowd. My legs felt good, despite the crash and hard effort that I had put in the day before.  My sleep, and ice cream doping had paid off. As we were called to staging, I saw Todd, who looked like he had been beer doping at The Dirty Truth. He was accompanied by the smug looking pair of Matt and Dr. Jay, which explained why Todd was looking so hungover. Well played gentlemen, now I had my best opportunity to beat Todd.

Dr. Jay and Matt looking happy about Todd's condition.

At staging, we received a lengthy speech about how stupid it would be if we repeated our pile up of the day before. I was in full agreement with this, and was content to patiently wait for some extra space to open up off the start. Without the run up to throw a wrench in things at the start, the first real bottleneck was at the double sandpit. I chose to run it, since it already looked like a bunch of very skinny spandex covered walrus were flailing about in the sand. With Todd, Jay, and Matt somewhere behind me, I looked around for other riders I recognized. I quickly marked Conor from Geekhouse as my target for the race. We've had some good close battles this season, and the Geekhouse kit made him easy to pick out in the distance. I kept his brightly colored kit in sight, but it took some time to pull through to him. I finally caught him after the sketchy descent, when a pair of riders between us overcooked the turn, and crashed out. I barely made it around them  and stood up, quickly reeling in Conor.

Atop the sketchy downhill section.
We soon caught an NAV rider, and the 3 of us fought back and forth for most of the race. The NAV guy was pretty fast, and relentless. I am short, but sometimes this is helpful. Being the size of a Hobbit, and riding a bike with a wheelbase equivalent to a unicycle, allowed me to take tighter lines in the corners. I would pass the larger NAV rider, but then he would use his ogre like strength to blast by me in the longer stretches. This made for some exciting racing. On the bell lap, speedy MIT rider Andrew Lysaught, caught onto our little group, and I asked him what he was doing back with us. He quickly said something about a mechanical, and then blew past me right before the sand pit.

Chasing Conor and the NAV rider. Andrew is just passing through.

My wife and friends seemed to be everywhere on course, cheering me on. This coupled with the awesome sight/sound of Ryan Kelly and Reuter heckling on a portable PA system in the infield, gave me that extra little push I needed. Someone should purchase that thing for Ryan, force feed him a pot of coffee, and let him scream at people at every remaining race this season. I made a good pass on Colin after passing the pit for the last time, and then decisively passed the NAV rider in the club row stretch. It was a long stretch to the next two riders, as I hit the pavement, but I got close to catching them as well. I pulled out a 79th/136 place finish, placing me solidly as pack fodder. I felt like I had truly been racing the whole time though, and can't really complain since I finally got to beat Todd. I will give Todd props for finishing out his race strong, in light of his massive hangover. I'm slowly improving with each race, which gives me some hopes for finishing in the top 50% of the Cat. 3 field by the end of this season. I'm not sure about race plans for the upcoming weekend, but I am looking forward to doing some more SS racing at Velocross, and getting RAD on the bmx track there.

Post Race Observations
The Good:
-No crashing at the start.
-I was able to generate watts at critical moments.
-Took some nice lines in the corners, setting up attacks.
-Finally finished ahead of Todd.
-My friend Margaret handing me a stout beer, within minutes of finishing my race.

The Bad:
-Didn't ride the sand as well as usual.
-I need to keep stupid mistakes to a minimum. Every second counts, 10 secs faster per lap would have placed me 20 spots higher.

Purity of Essence

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