Thursday, September 23, 2010

King's CX Weekend

Day 1

Mike F and I made arrangements to race both days on the retired golf course near King's Island just northeast of Cincnatti starting with a 7:30am departure on Saturday.  It turns out, Mike isn't the most reliable navigator and we pulled into a golf course neighborhood about an hour before his start.  Sure it was a golf cousrse with King's in the name, but not the one we were after!  After backtracking about ten minutes we were set.  Mike got checked in, I got his wheels swapped and pit wheels delivered while he made a few adjustments and warmed up. 

I didn't get to really check out the course before he raced, but could tell it was hard, dry and fast.  Off the line, Mike had a good start going from third row to fifth or sixth only to get caught up behind a guy in the sand and the same guy again going over the bars on some off camber in the first lap.  He recovered well, but 'caught behind crashes' was the recurring theme of the day.  He held on for eigth in an open field of about fifteen.

My race didn't start until 1:15, so there was still time to eat, kit up and warm up.  Everything felt right - relaxed, rested, and ready to roll.  I've not been very good at pre-registering early, so my call-up was supposed to be third row, but I found a slot in the second.  On the line, I was barely nervous, heart rate settled close to a hundred and all 20 Open, 20 35+ers, and 15 45+ers waited for the whistle.  Starting has always been better for me than the middle laps, so I quickly found myself in the front 5, even leading for part of the first lap.  I felt really good, especially compared to the previous weekend racing sick! 

A couple laps in, one guy had gone off the front of our group, but for the most part four of us were within 10 seconds or so of each other.  There were parts of the course where I'd pull through and parts where I felt like I was dying and barely hanging on.  Strangely those areas weren't all technical or all power.  With two to go, our group had spread out a little and had a comfortable gap on the next guy, Chauncey I think?  The guy in the lead had faded a bit, but held on for the win.  I rolled in for 4th in the Open with one of the Masters guys just in front of me as well.  Very content after a season of ultra endurance and no intensity!!

My uncle set us up with a place to stay, then his parking pass for Saturday night and Octoberfest in Zinzinatti.  Of course a couple good beers needed to be tasted and some German food devoured.  Not the best prerace food, but life has to be a balance! 

Sunday morning was more relaxed - sleeping in until 8 and still getting to the venue an hour and 20 minutes before the first race is pretty damned sweet!  The fields were about double the size from Saturday and Mike rolled in for 9th in the Cat 4 open behind a handful of really fast kids, yes 7 of the top 8 were 18 or under!!  Crazy!! 

My callup was supposed to be third row, but again I was able to squeeze up to the front row and planned to take the holeshot.  Starting is usually a forte and my race strategy basically involved killing myself for a couple laps, hoping that someone came with me and then hang on as long as possible - the theory was that the mind stops listening to the pain as much when you make the front group!  My bike had other plans - the whistle blew and my chain popped off the inside!  Somehow I didn't panic, I just pushed the shifter to big ring, turned the chain on and rode off in the middle of the pack - probably around 20th.  By the time we hit the lap line I'd sprinted back to top 5, but left the chain in big ring for fear of another drop.  I held on for a couple laps, but then the 46/26 gear started to take it's toll.  I wasn't able to spin up any of the punchy climbs and could feel the legs getting heavy as I faded back to 6th with 7 and 8 hot on my wheel.  Sam D and another guy came by and I tried to hop on, but was fading hard.  Finally I said hell with it and went back to the small ring.  By the last lap my legs were coming back to life and I pulled back within 7 seconds of Sam, though that may have been in response to Beckman riding strong right behind me.  Rolled in for 8th of about 40 and not as happy about it as Saturday, but with the chain issue I'll take it!

The rest of the afternoon was spent cheering and catching up with Columbus guys.  All in all, great weekend!

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