Friday, October 16, 2009

“Blind Dates are more fun when they end up having slick spots.”


Credit goes to Joel “Burger! Burger! Burger!” Morrissette for that awesome quote.

Trio of race reports here.  Cross season has kicked into full gear with the Blind Date series having its 3rd and 4th run at the Dairy the previous two Wednesday’s in addition to Cross Crusade #2 at Rainer High in Rainer Oregon this last Sunday.

The Blind Date events I’m treating as a super hard training exercise, and this week wasn’t an excuse.  Blind Date #3 I started closer to the front than last weeks event, wanting to work on the hole shot and then run one lap on, one lap off intervals.  Cow, Strader, and Jordan were again in the field with me and we all sorta half-joked to do the same sort of exercise.

The whistle blew and the race started, while I didn’t get around the 2 guys directly in front of me for the hole shot, I was up near the front and had a good few lines into those first few crucial corners.  I’ve been doing a lot of my over/under intervals on loose gravel roads and this opening section of Blind Date felt like practice.  As the lap progressed I picked off the few riders who got out of the gate in front of me, and finished the first lap in the top spot.

The race after that was supposed to be a set of intervals, but that competitive spirit took over for all of us.  I battled hard with a few guys, trading 5th through 10th places as the race progressed.  My main goal at this point was to keep Cow behind me, (specifically because he kept telling me to go faster.  Ass!)  He got in front of me at a couple places but had some bad luck with people crashing next to him or directly in front of him which allowed me to sneak by.  The last lap I attacked hard out of a group of 4, making them chase me through the slower lapped traffic.  Cow and I were neck and neck coming through the last set of barriers, but I got a better entrance line into the last corner allowing me to not-so-subtlety cut  off his line.  We finished right behind each other for 7th and 8th in the field and had a good laugh when it was all over.  Jordan somehow managed to teleport in front of me in the last quarter meter to take 6th place, then turn invisible until I rolled passed him.  Have to watch out for that guy! ;)

Cross Crusade #2 was the following Sunday (10/11).  I was a bit worried about this event due to my sucktackular performance on this course last year.  I consider this course a climbers course, and I sir, am not a climber!  I was fortunate to get a call up due to my placement at Alpenrose and was in the front row for the very first time in my CX career.  The power / speed work I did this year paid off and I was able to take the hole shot when the race started.  I wanted to be the first person into the woods and down through the super nasty gravel corner where we had seen a ton of people go down in the earlier races.

My race progressed pretty much as expected.  I flew past people in the flat, downhill, and technical sections, but lost ground on the pavement section of the climb.  The course took a toll on a lot of bikes and I saw at least 3 of the guys who were ahead of me end up with a mechanical of some sort.  I was managing to hold on to a top 10 finish until the last half of the last lap when my rear tub flatted just before the run up.  Doh.

I managed to nurse the bike in the downhill section, then tossed it on the shoulder and ran the remainder of the course, including right passed the pit.  “It’s the last lap, I’ll just run it in.” I said when I ran by.  It’s only 400m I told myself. 

Oh yeah, its all up hill.  About half way up the hill I realized the folly of my decision.  A 20 second wheel change would have saved me probably 3-4 minutes of race time and most likely preserve a top 20 finish.  Rookie move.  Lesson learned.

All in all, I was happy with how the race went.  Rainer last year owned me, and this year I felt competitive.  I plan on rolling with the Master B’s next week at Sherwood.

The last Blind Date was probably the most fun of all.  Some hard bursts of rain through out the day had the potential to change the course conditions from the previous runs, and the cloud layer plus it being later in the year made the lighting conditions deteriorate fairly early.

Since I’m on a rest week, I started in the last row of racers and passed on the call up I was given.  The whistle blew and I, along with the other hundred plus racers that didn’t have a clear line slowly moved into the first set of turns.  As always I moo’d as we progressed along.  By the time I got down to the parking lot switch backs, the leaders of the race were already heading the other way with open course in front of them.  I spent the remainder of the opening lap riding through traffic at about 80% speed, and running over more than my fair share of cones in the process.  I kid you not, I think I hit a cone in every corner that first lap. 

By the time the first lap ended I was probably in the top half of the field.  I worked on my handling in traffic and in the slick spots on course.  Ran short intervals to pass people and used the course and people in it to slowly make my way through the field.  I eventually got to the head of the huge midfield pack and had some open road ahead of me on the last few laps.  The light faded quickly the last two laps and it was a struggle to avoid the ruts at high speed.  I used the “aim and pray” strategy fairly effectively and made it through to the finish in one piece in a respectable  27th place.  I was muddy, the bike was muddy, and my legs were on fire because I tossed embrocation on them thinking it was going to be colder, but it was smiles all around.

If you didn’t get a chance to race the Blind Date series this year, you missed out on a seriously fun time.  The mid-week event fits in perfectly with recovery from your weekend races, and gives you the opportunity to work on skills or try new gear out in a “low stress” environment.  With all the race focus on Crusades, I really hope people don’t overlook the fact that some great racing is happening elsewhere.

That wraps it up for this week.  This Sunday is Sherwood, followed by two week ends of Saturday / Sunday racing!

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