So I’ll state right up front that I was not a big fan of the Sherwood venue. The first part of this post is going to be a bit of a rant, so skip down if you don’t want to read it.
Just about everyone I’ve talked to today is battered and bruised, including those who didn’t go down. You are going to hurt after a cross race but today my hands feel like I repeated punched someone, and Dave Aldersabaes thinks it was him.
We arrived early, like normal, to help get our team’s tent setup. Upon arriving at the venue we were told the North parking lot will not be opened due to the conditions of the field, so we went down to the south lot where we were probably the 5th or 6th car there.
The course was no where near the south lot. In fact the course only popped near the north lot, which was opened after the south turned into a total fluster cluck of cars. (Hint, get people to organize parking if you don’t want that to happen. Don’t come through after the fact complaining at the people who are trying to get ready for your race.) Viewing was pretty limited to the starting area, and small on-course section after the starting area. By the end of the day our team’s tent stood near the Hammer Velo fortress and a fairly empty and quiet lot. Boo.
The course itself was.. meh. The elevation wasn’t really a problem, there was plenty of time to recover from the climbs. The problem was the course was about 90% single track. Yes, the course was 8 to 10 feet wide in most places, but it was really only ride worthy on the single track paths. Attempts to ride the non-track were met with bone jarring, bike breaking impacts. The gravel downhill section was filled with small fist size loose rocks. There was blackberry bramble hanging into the course in a number of locations. I saw a few people who looked like they had been slashed with razor blades, and Jeff B was picking thorns out of his arm when he finished.
Wheels were destroyed, chains busted, handlebars snapped, derailleurs ripped from bikes. The Shimano neutral support guy said he ran out of wheels almost every race and saw more busted bikes come in on this race then the others combined. Not a winner in my book.
Ok – I’m done ranting about the venue for this year.
I self upgraded to the Mstr B’s after enough goading from my friends and teammates. I’ve been a top 10 finisher of my of my races this season in the C’s and the ones I finished outside of the top 10 in I either started in the back (Blind date #2 / #4) or had a mechanical.
PV has a ton of guys in the Mstr B’s and Mstr 50+ so seeing all the other kits on course is a great deal of fun. I didn’t have big expectations for this race since A) it has climbing in it. B) I’m racing in a new, faster category and C) its not my style of course.
The pre-ride was muddy, and I seriously considered riding my Bulldog clinchers on the course rather than my Fango tubs. After some insistence from Jeff and Ben, I tossed the tubs on and went to the starting line. My new number (which can be worn right side up or up side down!) had me with a mid to back starting group. I had a pretty descent start, but 4 corners in the first 200m’s of the course makes it really hard for anyone to pass.
We had a new section of course to ride which was opened up starting at our race. It was an out and back winding route that went through the orchard. By the time I hit the 2 way section, the leaders were already on their way back. They were already 1m30s ahead of me after half a lap! I felt sorry for anyone who expected to contend today and had a bad call up number.
I rode my race the best I could. I used the power sections to pass people, the single track sections to recover since it was very risky to try and ride outside of them. I suffered up the climb, happy that I had my 36x28 to climb on. I wasn’t happy seeing the big black “3” on the lap counter after my second trip up that hill though.
My own little race formed with Jeff Harwood of Ironclad, a top notch sprinter that I rode with and against for most of the year. We traded positions for most of the second lap and the start of the third.
Murray caught me heading up the hill on the end of the second lap and I latched on to his wheel. Shortly there after my rear tire started to flat. Coincidence? I think not. Long time readers of this blog may remember that Murray ruthlessly ran me over at Rainer last year. I hefted my bike on to my shoulder at the start of the orchard, and ran / walked the next mile to the neutral pit. I got to see most of the field go by during that mile, and heard some very interesting remarks from some of the racers going by.
My favorite was “get out of the course” by a guy who tried passing me in the narrowest, most twisty part of the entire route. Uh, hi, I’m actually part of this race, and I can’t jump off the course when its taped up. You sir, are an idiot, and I can understand why people don’t think very highly of your team.
I eventually made it to the neutral pit after some very hairy sections of fast single track where I was fortunate enough to have some spectators letting me know when it was safe to run through. A quick wheel change and I was back riding with relatively fresh legs. I surged up the hill and was able to catch up with a couple of teammates whom I rode in with on that last lap.
The highlight of the day was probably watching the start of the women’s race, heckling our friends to make up for our lackluster performances. Heidi, Kristin, Beth, and Lindsay all felt the wrath of being friends with PV while the PV ladies, Ellen, Ally, Cindy, and Traci all put huge efforts out on course and were cheered wildly for. Afterwards the team rolled back to our fortress and fired up the grill. Slabs of meat and sodium rockets sizzled and beer was shared. The sun came out and we reminisced on the days events. I don’t think any of us watched the elites race. Kind of a shame.
All in all, I didn’t get much out of a race I wasn’t expecting much of. The Fango that flatted appeared to get a small staple in it, or possibly a two pronged thorn. The Stan’s that was in it didn’t seal it during the race or after as we were inspecting the damage, so it looks like a new tire is in the cards for me. I also feel I need to run my tubs with a bit more air pressure as every race I’ve run sub 35 PSI on I’ve had problems.
With four more Cross races this season on the horizon for me (boo work schedule). I’ll be doubling up the next two weekends. This coming weekend looks to be a bit more suited to my racing style, and Astoria… well that’s just a craziness of its own.