Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Two scoops of Alpenrose goodness, and a side of fail


We’ve got a trio of race reports here and we’ll start things off with the side of fail.  Barlow.  I’ve heard awesome things about this course, and it really looked tremendous.  The legendary rail road tie steps, the bridge, the crazy descent leading down to it all.  It’s a fast course, with some sections a powerful rider can open up a can of hurt on the field.

If you get to them.

I didn’t get a chance to pre-ride the course due to the distance from the house and the fact that they change the schedule up a bit to accommodate all the riders.  No big deal.  I got a lot of course recon time in the morning and felt pretty good about learning the lines quickly.  My warm-up wasn’t the greatest, I had been fighting of some sinus crud the previous 24hrs and I just couldn’t get my HR up to where it needed to be.  Ah well.  Time to line up! 

I didn’t get the greatest of starting spots, but I did line up on the edge, which was important.  The lead ref was pretty adamant that you had to stay inside the cones once you crossed the Start Line but since the starting chute was so short and narrow, make due with what you had available.  The whistle blew, I went outside the cones, around the slower riders and and ducked in before the line, putting myself in the top 10 before the first turn.  Half the battle over.

This was the first opportunity to ride the new tubs and I was impressed with how quickly they spun up.  I was not impressed however with how quickly the tire came off the front wheel.  About 4 minutes after the start, I dove inside a rider making a wide corner and the front wheel rolled off the rim.  Game over, thanks for paying $6.25 a minute to race.

Needless to say, after inspecting the rim and seeing that entirely not enough glue was used, the wheels went back to the shop were a very embarrassed and apologetic service manager re-did both wheels using a ton more glue free of charge.

On to Alpenrose!

This year an additional weekday series popped up last minute on the OBRA calendar.  I was out of town for the first one, but after hearing the rave reviews I decided to take part in the mid-week race to get some more time on the CX bike.  My training plan said “CX Practice” so I treated the race as a handing exercise by lining up in pretty much the back of the pack to see how far I could make it through before the end. 

I’m going to guess I started about 100 riders deep in a field of 140 and ended up finishing 15th after 8 brutally fast and bumpy laps.  I felt great and was really moving through the field effectively.  Was only passed by one guy who flew past me on the run-up but paid the price for his effort about half a lap later and blew up.  It was a total blast to race in the evening and gave me a lot of confidence going into the Cross Crusades series opener on Sunday.

After a few pre-ride laps on Saturday with the newly re-glued tubs, I got the tire pressure dialed in and felt confident I wasn’t going to roll a tire off this time.  Sunday rolled around and we got to Alpenrose early to get a parking spot near our tent.  Holy crap did that place get busy fast.

My race went really well.  I was in the third column to be called up, which put me about 6 or 7 rows deep.  I parked on the far right next to the curb so I could get water from Traci and chat with my family who came to watch the race.  The whistle blew and other than slipping on the curb a bit, my start was pretty clean. 

By the end of the first lap I was in the top 10, second lap I was sitting in the top 5 but at one point was in the top 3.  A few of the fast riders I’ve been competing with this season caught me and steadily pulled away over lap 3 when I starting to get a bit of fatigue.  I felt pretty slow in the technical sections but fast in the open areas, and from the gaps I opened or closed during those sections I know where to look to improve my future races.

The bell lap came a lot sooner than I expected and I was few seconds behind the 6th place guy and few seconds in front of the 8th place guy.  No mans land isn’t a bad place to be in at times.  I had a carrot in front of me and a bit of pressure behind me to keep me honest and working hard.  I was slowly pulling the guy in front of me back but alas I ran out of race.  7th place out of 190 riders, good enough to score some points and get a call up for the remainder of the season.

I’m pretty happy with how things are going this season.  PV has had some awesome showings this year so far and we are currently sitting in the top slot in the “Feudal War” team competition.  We are getting some attrition in our women’s team, but the gals who have stuck around and the new ones who have joined are bunch of troopers and the guys bend over backwards to make sure they are ready to roll. 

Personally, I’ve had some great results in my field with out being overwhelmingly dominant or getting shelled.  I know there is a huge difference between the C’s and B’s, but I also know your starting slot will give you a big advantage over your competitors.  Cross is a mix of fitness, skill, and sheer luck, with a lot of beer and cowbells tossed in.

It’s also a hell of a lot of fun.  Just ask the 1493 people who raced on Sunday!

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