Monday, October 13, 2008

Cross Crusade #2 at Villebois, by Greg

Jeff joined me, Deirdre, Abigail and Danny to drive down to the Villeboise race. I had a new pre-race strategy to test: no coffee in the morning (Abigail was in awe of this, as she's never seen me go a morning without coffee). She actually smiled and busted out a "no possible way" on me. But, I think I heard that all of the wonderful benefits of caffeine begin about 30 minutes after consumption and only last about an hour and a half. So I planned to caffeinate 30-45 minutes before go time.

I managed to drive without caffeine just fine, and we pulled into the "designated" parking area of brand new side streets amongst empty housing lots at about 9:20. Jeff and I put on our shoes and helmets to go hit the sign-in and try and pre-ride a lap or two. As we rode up, I found that we could actually park much closer to the course, so we ended up moving the van (twice), until we were practically course-side at the first turn (descent transition right hander from asphalt to gravel). We saw Csaba during our van moving session.

Pre-riding is getting tough, as there are so many racers. Jeff and I, along with a few Tireless Velo guys hung out at the first corner until the beginners started coming in to end their race, and we were off on our practice lap. We made it mostly around the course, and found it to be a pretty mountain bikey type course. 2 paved sections, one flat gravel section, some bumpy grass, and some bumpy dirt with wide areas for passing and at least 2 or 3 decent lines through before it narrowed again. There were a few sharp turns on gravel that had to be taken carefully or you'd wash out and hit some painful big gravel (1"-2" chunks).

After the C race we tried to ride another lap, but were kicked off the course with stern "no pre-riding" warnings. I hear they started taking numbers and doling out punishment in the form of 30 second later starts for those who blatantly pre-rode when they were warned against it.

We watched Csaba start his race, then I coffeed up and Jeff and I headed out on the road for a short warm-up, and we saw Trevor and Alex arrive. We wished them well as they set off to register, then headed on our warm-up with the intention of getting to the start 30 minutes prior to race time to get a front row slot. Foiled again, as we ended up in a loose 3rd row, but slid into 2nd row prior to the start of the race. While waiting, I saw Csaba had switched from his road/cross bike to his MTB. Csaba, care to fill us in on your race?

I got a good start, with no clip-in issues this time at the start (I took the Dremel to my shoes some more, to ensure no pedal/cleat interference). I rode the first lap taking extra care to find good lines and ride clean, and used the pre-ride knowledge to rapid pass a few folk. I made up spots each lap, and only gave away a couple. One was on the last lap to Team Beer's (former PSU Team racer) Alex Accetta.

There were great races-within-the-race, two I lost (Alex and a Guiness racer), and a few I won. I felt strong, and the course suited me well. Todays revised results have me at 12th.

We cooled off, and watched the start of the B's race and had some fun screaming and yelling. It was nice to see Trevor and Alex in the same field, and Alex in his first cross race. The B field is pretty intense and I think you'll see both Alex and Trevor show fast improvement in their technical skills, which are already pretty good. We headed back to Portland before their race ended, but hopefully we'll get a race report.

All in all this was a good race day. I'm really hoping for some serious mud races soon, but I must admit that it's nice to be all cleaned up within an hour after a race like Sunday.


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