Monday, December 5, 2011

NBX Day 2

This was my first trip down to Warwick. Everyone told me it was not to be missed, and that I had to go. I talked to Ben the night before the race, and we decided to carpool since he lives close by. We picked up Susan, and stuffed her in the car as well, amid all of my ever growing pile of race supplies. It was really nice to drive down with a full car, and have folks to talk with.

The venue was impressive, with the course taking good advantage of it all. There were two long beach sections, lots of tight turns in the trees, some loose corners, a berm, an uphill barrier, and a paved downhill finish. The course was generally dry, and very fast. There were lots of great areas to spectate, and the course crossings were all well manned, keeping everyone safe.

Ben, Susan, and I wandered around the course, watching the 3/4 Women, and 10-14 Juniors. I took some photos, and then it was time for Ben and I to get ready for the Cat.3 race. Ben had taken a chance, and registered day of. This placed him at the back of the pack at staging, with me about  4 rows ahead of him. We joked that he would probably beat me anyway on his single speed. Guess what, he did.

My race went really well for the first 3 minutes, before things started going sideways. I had a great start, being lined up on the right side, right next to the fencing. I used the "pro" hold the fencing, with both feet clipped in technique, and picked up 30 spots before the first turn. The traditional Cat.3 scrum for position was at an all time high as we bounced over the roots, and through the loose turns leading to the first beach section. I held my own through the first beach section, and was feeling pretty good. As we approached one of the loose 180's, an overzealous junior decided to dive bomb me. Rather than being aggressive, and running him into the tree at the apex of the turn, I instead got shoved to the outside into the loose stuff. I then proceeded to go down hard on my right knee. So hard that I had trouble forcing my body to cooperate, and get back onto the bike. With the field not really strung out, 20 guys must have gone by me in just a few seconds. This included my buddy/cross-clash opponent Matt, who yelled at me to get moving. I certainly tried to, but with less than satisfactory results.

What a beach.
Back on the bike, I tried to hold onto my position, but it took a little while to get my knee to agree to stop screaming at me to pullover, and remove the handful of sand out of it. I was starting to feel better in the second lap, and had stopped bleeding spots, when things went sideways again. This time I managed to clip the inside of my left ankle on my pedal, when I slipped coming into the barriers. There was a quick jolt of pain, and then my entire foot was completely numb. I found myself stumbling through the barriers, and then trying to get back into my pedals with the block of wood I called my foot. All the while Susan was yelling at me to suck less.

I continued to "race" for the next half a lap, as I started to regain feeling in my foot. Unfortunately the feeling I regained was agonizing pain. Still, now that I was able to tell what my foot was doing, I was starting to get back up to race pace. Just as I got back up to speed, HUP's Robert Hale came up behind me. I was hoping to  battle it out like we did at the end of Baystate, but Robert decided to not to, and dropped me like a bad habit. Next Uri, and an ECV rider caught and passed me before the first beach. I chased them, but then they both went down in the sand. I ran around then, and got a small gap on them. I then proceeded to ride off course after a tight turn, where the course tape was down. Goodby Uri! At this point I was fairly certain that I had angered the cyclocross pantheon of Gods. Mud, Blood, and Beers had forsaken me. I told myself with what little bit of race I had left, I would try to regain their favor.

First order of business, focus, and actually start racing again. Second order of business, not let myself be passed by anymore of the juniors. I was riding with one of the Killington kids, and another junior from Union Velo. They were both good riders, but I was able to use some of my old man watts to drop them on the downhill paved section. I soon found myself riding with my fellow MRC member David. He passed me when I took a bad line, and I chased him for a full lap and a half. I was having a great time, before getting a little space on him at the run up on the second beach. I made it cleanly through the barriers at a full run, and was able to attack again on the punchy little climb back to the top of the course. I held him off through the last half of the lap, but it was a great battle.

Chasing David.  Photo by: Thierry Blanchet
After starting in 66 position, and moving up into the 30's, I finished 72/97. Certainly not what I had hoped for. Even more frustrating, is knowing that I am capable of doing so much better on a course like that. Oh well, it just means next year, I will be coming back to Warwick hungry. Hats off to Ben, and Matt though, who both had very good races.

An even bigger congratulations goes out to my friend, and cross hero, Andrea. She won both days at NBX, and after seeing her really drive the pace on Sunday, I hope to see her do big things at the USGP in Bend.

Andrea with the win!

Post Race Observations:
The Good:
-I didn't break anything.
-The course was great fun to ride when I wasn't crashing.
-Even hurt, I was able to make some good attacks on the pavement.
-Given a beer post race by the Cape Cod racing crew, to chase my super tasty recovery burrito with.
-Susan yelling, "Go Team Buttwatts!" when I ran through the barriers.

The Bad:
-I bruised everything.
-I let a 100 lb. junior dive bomb me.
-Movember 'stache watts do not carry over into December.
-Staying on course was hard.
-Still trying to get the sand out of my shoes.

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