Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Ice Weasels Cometh

Dah Weasel has been good to me, over the past couple of seasons. While the vicious little rodent has eaten it's fair share of derailleurs, it has spurred me on to race my face off. Colin's Weasel franchised races, have led to some of my best results of the year. More importantly, they have led to the most fun I have had on, or off of a bike. The fun factor is one of those intangibles, that is really hard to plan for, but can make for a cult like following when executed well. In addition to his wonderful algorithm, he seems to have discovered the formula for a good CX race. Now if we can just convince him to promote a MTB race in the summer,("Dirt Weasels" anyone?) I can get my Weasel on year round.

My first Ice Weasels in 2009, actually involved ice. I had just purchased a cyclocross bike, and it was my 4th race ever. I got lapped by a tri-athelete on a Surly Pugsly, but it was my best finish of that year. I also gave out donut handups for the first time.  In 2010, I doubled up, racing the Cat.4, and single-speed. I finished in the top 10 for the Cat. 4, and got myself hooked on single-speed. I also managed to give out more donut hand ups, as well as take more than a few myself. For 2011, I debated doing 3 races, but decided that two was enough.  So I registered early for the Men's 3/4, and Zanconato SS series finals.
Rocking out, at Dah Ice Weasels Cometh.

My wife and I got up early, made some bourbon infused syrup for waffles, and picked up 50 munchkins for hand up use. We hit the road at 8 to avoid parking issues, and to watch the morning races. The HUP crew was great, and let my Sarah and I hang out at their compound, while we watched waited for the first race to start. The Cat.4 race, saw Andy Huff take the very first hand up of the day, a chocolate munchkin from me! He also took an iPhone hand up(at 25:25) from the Schon, much to my amusement.

Coming through the barriers, with all my nemeses in hot pursuit.
Soon it was time for my first race, the Men's 3/4, which also featured the very fast Crystal Anthony vs. her brother Josh. At the line, the "fun police" let us know that they would be DQ'ing people for taking hand ups, to the astonished gasps of the field. I started in the 4th row, and had a good start, moving around the outside in the first turn, and picking up a number of spots. In the first lap, I found myself chasing people I didn't have a real chance of staying with, all the while being chased by some very familiar faces.  Jon Barry, Robert Hale, Ryan White, and Conor, were all right behind me. I tried to stay smooth through the corners, of which there were many, and pushed hard out of each one in hopes of keeping my nemeses at bay. I picked some slightly different lines from the majority of people, which I think made all the difference in the end. I had a lot of fun coming through the high speed barriers, where I didn't brake at all on the approach each lap. I was able to create small gaps there every time.

 Bermingham added a new twist to the course, and the loose runup was actually much nicer than the old one from the last couple of years. Coming through a 180, Robert made a move on me, and we had a little friendly shoulder rubbing, as we fought for the line. At least I hope he saw it as friendly since I was laughing the whole time. I chased Rob for a full lap, before I was able to get around him again. Ryan eventually came around both of us, and I fought hard to catch him, trying to even up our "Hobbit Cup" standings. I eventually caught him on the flyover, and got a little space on him through the next couple of turns.

Neck and neck with Ryan. Rob and Dave in pursuit, and someone confused  by the flyover.

Throughout the race, I was getting cheers, and encouragement all over the course. Enough people seemed to recognize my mustache, that Ryan claimed I was the most popular guy in our race. I also kept hearing what was going on with the leaders, and wasn't surprised to hear that Crystal had made her way to the front of the pack. I was also happy to hear another of my favorite racers Ian, had made his way into the lead group. Meanwhile, I found myself in a heated battle with HUP's Rob Hale, Jordan from CB/Iglehart, and Dave from BRC. I eventually got on the front of the group, after making an attack through the finish sprint. I was leading through the bell lap, continuing to push hard, but took a bad line as I tried to get by a lapped rider. This allowed the 3 behind me, to cut under in the corner, and I didn't have enough real estate left to get by them before the finish. On one hand, this knocked me out of the top 10, with me finishing 13/71, but on the other hand it was also my best result of the season! Knowing that hand ups were once again verboten, I decided to take in a few beers and donuts before my next race.

I missed part of the women's race, as I got cleaned up and warm, but I did get to cheer them on and got a few pictures. Including this gem of Megan, taking the fight to her anti-power animal, Giardia.
Take that, Giardia!
The single speed race, was the last of the day. The temperatures had dipped quite a bit, and my legs were toast from my first race, but I was VERY excited to get out on the course again. Not only was this the finals of the very cool Zanconato Single Speed Trophy Series, put on by Mike and Chip, but it was also the largest field of the year! Mike and Chip did a great job putting the series together, and promoting it. It brought a lot of added fun to my season, and let me race against a completely different set of people. I see the SS category as a great melting pot of like minded riders, and am happy to have been able to take part in it.

The staging was by series points, which meant I got my first call up! I started second row, seeded 13th, which is much better than my normal pack fodder starting position. I knew that there were quite a few very fast guys staged behind me, who would likely pass me at some point, since I was predicted to finish 28th. However, I was determined to finish in the top 20, despite my leaden legs. I got another clean start, and was in 10th position at the first set of barriers. I held onto this for a bit, but soon saw some of those fast guys, like  Scott Rosenthal, and Andrew Kruelwitz in his daisy dukes make their way past me. My SS friend Ben also shot by me on one of the straightaways, as I told him he would with his higher gearing.

This late in the day, the kegs were running low, and the spectators spirits were flying high at the high speed barriers. The cheers for all the racers were non-stop, and could be heard from the other side of the course. I didn't take any hand ups, since I was moving through the barriers too fast, but I did get a high-five from Patrick and almost crashed into the tree. Andy Huff also gave me a small change hand up, but I couldn't hold onto it with my frozen fingers. Out at Bermingham, I got compliments on my handlebar mustache, from two of the juniors camped out there. I tried to gasp out a thank you each time, but I'm sure it sounded more akin to a death rattle by that point. My favorite part of the race, was probably when 40 toting announcer Ryan Kelly, went off on my mustache for some time. Apparently, my 'stache is very hug worthy. Late in the race, I had finally caught, and re-passed Ben, but found myself stuck between an ECV rider just out of reach, and unable to shake Ian from CB/Iglehart. Our "group" never came together, with each of us trying to lose/catch someone, all the way through the finish. I beat Ryan, taking the prestigious "Hobbit Cup". I made my goal of top 20 though, finishing out at 17/61. This also had me finish up in the Zanc Series, 13th overall. Not too shabby for my second race of the day!

Post race, we had the amazing raffle for people who had participated in the SS series. Chip did an amazing job getting sponsors on board for this. While I didn't get the top prize of a beautiful, custom made Zanconato frame, I did come away with a very cool prize. I am now the proud owner of a gorgeous Lazer Helium, warrior series, in the Belgian color scheme! The fit is great, and with the dropping temperatures, I've already fallen in love with the rain shell that was included. Now I know why everyone is so keen on these helmets.

Left: My new Helmet!

Post Race Observations:
The Good:
-Rode well in both races.
-No crashes.
-Fun times at Bermingham.
-Won a new helmet.
-Hobbit cup win!
-Rob Hale's super tasty chili, and Hupcakes a plenty at the HUP tent.
-Lauren Kling's pastry stand!

The Bad:
-Hand up crackdown.
-Couldn't make my lazy butt race 3 times.
-I didn't buy all of Lauren Kling's mini-pies.
-Can't really think of anything else that I didn't like.

1 comment:

  1. Yup, I am with you on the shoulder rubbing for fun! I think I was laughing that whole race! Well, certainly when you took the foolish outside line at the end to let us by you! Great race! I won't mention the results on the SS race....