Saturday, October 06, 2007

Cyclocross starts, and summer memories

Cyclisme had sweet success in sweeping the Sport 40+ category at the PIR ShortTrack series this summer. I actually pulled out my first bike race win ever in the final race. I'm sure it helped having teammates right behind me, but I'll take it!

The podium from left to right is Tony (2nd), Chris (1st) and me (3rd). This was a really fun series, and I'm pleased with my ability to ride it cleanly this year. Last year I think I crashed in just about every race. This year I had a couple sketch moments on the big motocross whoops while at speed, but managed to keep the rubber side down. Kris said there will be a Master's Expert cat next year, so we'll move up to that to dodge the "sandbaggers" call.

Cyclocross season started with a whimper (for me), then got a lot better. The previous entry about Kruger's Kermesse doesn't do justice to the level of suckness I felt on the bike. I trained, ate right, was well hydrated, and just could not stay latched on to a group. Charlie dragged me back up to the lead group, and I started to blow just a couple of minutes later. Oh well, the venue was great and I'm looking forward to it next year.

Hood River Cyclocross Classic:

The next race, and actual first 'cross race at Hood River went really well. Jeff was sick, so it was me and Tony lining up for the Master's B. I got a good start, and led for a lap or two before having to settle in 6th wheel or so for a strong finish. I ended up in 5th, and Tony was in the top 10 as well. The course was dry and fast. I rode clean, while Tony managed to entertain the crowd with s spectacular barrier crash. My new bike worked flawlessly, and my special ability to nail each and every big rock and root proved once again that racing cross in tubulars is a mandate for me. My Tufo Elite LPS set-up has just been killer. I hear a lot about hot the Grifos are so much better in the mud, etc. but I'm happy with the Elites (more on mud coming up).

Darren had a killer hole-shot start in the beginner race, after the previous day's hot start practices at Irving Park.

Major News was Liliane racing her first 'cross race in the womens field at Hood River. We gave her lots of verbal Cyclisme encouragement through the downhill switchbacks. A post race interview showed that she"liked it", and "had fun". Another 'cross convert.

Chris rode in the Master A group at 2:00 pm, but by that time I had reached the kids limit and we were at Charburger in HR, wolfing down the grub.

Battle At Barlow:

Last week was the Battle At Barlow. The weather reports showed lots of rain, so I made a dash to GI Joes at closing time Saturday to buy a pop-up canopy. I can't believe I raced in the rain for 3 years before doing this. A dry space, with chairs, dry cloths, etc made a huge difference. I met up with Big Dave before his 1st cyclocross race ever. Dave was in a slight panic 5 minutes before his start time, and asked if I had a spare helmet. I loaned him mine as I relayed my story about driving 2 hours to a MTB race, finding that I forgot my shoes. Dave had fun (I think) in the mud, exclaiming it was way harder than any MTB race he'd done.

Jeff and I then pre-rode the course to find mild 6" deep mud, ruts, and soggy slippery grass. We watched part of the C's race, then warmed up a bit and lined up front row. Tony and Charlie were also in the field for this race. I hammered the start and ended up 3rd wheel into the first turn. Jeff hammered the ground near the start and lost a few positions. I was able to pick good lines and stay upright. This race was really about not going down or having to even dab in the mud sections. The slight uphill rises were for me a 38x25 slow grind, while getting bounced left to right by 2' or more at times from the deep ever-changing ruts. Tony caught and passed me to move into 3rd place with 2 laps to go. I honestly gave all I had and could not close the gap to him. I went back and forth with another guy, and finally gapped him after an uphill slog and thew slip& slide flat area in the orchard where I geared up and busted my lungs. I finished 4th, and Tony was 3rd! Charlie was riding his singlespeed, with a bigger gear than he needed, and suffered accordingly.

1st two race take-aways:
RIDE CLEAN. Dabs and crashes in the mud are time suckers.
DRY SHOES. Warming up and pre-riding, then changing into dry shoes & socks for the race was a nice little boost (thanks to my wife, as I stole her shoes for my pre-ride).
CANOPIES ROCK. Next we'll bring the propane heater and a burner for hot soup, etc.

Tomorrow = Alpenrose = Game ON


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