Thursday, November 18, 2010

Infirmary Mounds CX

The more posts I type, the less I want to talk race report type details, because usually they're pretty boring details, especially for you to read... but this week is different!  I hope...
Sunsetting behind us on the trip up.
First though, the trip - Christine and I headed north late Saturday morning with a planned detour to IKEA en route to Columbus, OH.  I've been hearing about this place for years, but had never seen it for myself.  Believe it or not, I got out of there with only a 2.99 wall clock!  But... when time comes to furnish a house, some serious $$$ may be spent in that blue and yellow building!  Next up was dinner with Farmer and BWE at Carsonie's Stromboli and while it's no Little Caesars I guess it was alright (actually it was outstanding!)  From there we enjoyed great company and a low key evening in C-bus, a good night's sleep and  a tasty breakfast before hitting the road for Infirmary Mounds Park near Granville, OH.
Farmer and BWE
Then of course was a cyclocross race -- or something like that... details later, first we'll finish the trip.  Post race dinner (lunch? supper? who knows?) was at Brew's Cafe in downtown Granville, the home of Dennison University and yet again, great food!  Something about a juicy cheeseburger to replace all those burned calories tastes amazing.  By now it's late afternoon and we've got 4 hours of driving left... so what the hell, why not break it up with a stop at an outlet mall?  Turned out to be a fun and productive stop (made the lady happy too) and we still rolled back into the 'Ville by 10ish.

NOW.... back to the slightly less boring than normal race details!

Based on pre-reg I knew that the Kiel brothers from Lilly Greygoat would be tough and Scott P and a couple others could ride away with it just as easily.  Off the line I went for another hole-shot and lead through the barriers.  Smart or not, I'm usually more comfortable setting the pace than following so for most of a lap I pounded away trading a pull or two with Ryan K and soon there were just three of us off the front.  My legs felt pretty good and I was taking good lines but felt like Trebon squeezed between Powers and TJ since it was me plus the Kiels.  I knew a one-on-one battle would be easier to handle than trying to race teammates, brothers at that!  So every chance I got I'd attack the shit out of the course until finally it was just Matt and I trading turns on the front.

It was awesome to execute a mid-race strategy so well and create the 1on1 race I wanted... until Matt opened a small (2-3s) gap.  I tried to close it in the whoop-di-dos and took a two wheel drift into a stake. He looked over to the sound of the snap, saw me track stand and took off.  I chased hard for a while but he'd gotten just enough gap to be out of site on most of the course and that did it.

OK Ray, just race hard and take the second step!

Or maybe not, one lap to go and here comes Scott P from Team Hungry with his own plans for second place.

Exiting singletrack with #3 close behind.
5 seconds back... shit! He's on my wheel!!  It's fine, relax, just save a little and take him in the sprint?!  As we rolled by the pits for the last time some buddies cheered him onward and he attacked with more than half the course remaining... so much for saving some!  Turns out he burned that match too early and just as he let up I struck my own match to dive into the last single track with the lead.  We both cleaned the "run-up" and weren't more than a second apart coming into the last turn.  Coach was standing there cheering and reminding me to go to big ring... great idea!  Or not... my front derailleur didn't respond so down the cassette I went.  Once on pavement I stood up and he conceded, but it was also promising to have that hole-shot burst left at the finish!!

After 40 minutes of racing, second place with just one mistake, and a third podium in 8 days!  I'll take it! AND it was enough to climb back into second in the series, just 4 points out of the lead.  There are about 10 guys that could potentially win the series after 11 of 15 races.  Looks to be an exciting weekend in Indy in a few weeks!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

USGP, StG, Iceman, and IceCross

OK, so I'm a little behind so I'll try to keep each part brief.  After Bloomington came USGP at the new Eva Bandman Cyclocross Park just 3 miles from home and I went back to my hole-shot ways followed by fading back to 23 and 15 each day.  I was content with Saturday and pretty happy with Sunday, at just 1 minute off 4th place.
Hole-shot - Day One USGP Derby City (Photo credit: Mr. Tom Moran)

Storm the Greens
Tuesday and Wednesday I slipped in 5 workouts for a first shot at overload from coach.  It worked, I was cooked, but he set me up with the right recovery to regain my legs by the weekend.

Next up was Storm the Greens, again just a few miles from home.  Like clockwork, I grabbed the hole-shot and lead half a lap only this time I held on to Jason's wheel for a while when he came around.  We opened a considerable gap on 3 and 4 and then he pulled away from me by a handful of seconds before I washed out in a turn and lost another 8-10 seconds putting 3 and 4 very close.  Mentally I went backwards for a lap, then got back on top of things and started chasing, but 20 seconds in the last lap is a tough gap to close.  Finished in 4th and bummed about the mistake, but content with fitness and bounce back.

Michigan sunset
After 13 races in 8 weeks my mind and body were running ragged, so I all but begged for an easy week but coach said I had to stay sharp and we agreed on one extra easy day instead and I cut my race tune up short based on darkness and cold.

Iceman Cometh was next on the list and goals for this race had been set TWO years in advance.  After placing 5th in Beginner in 2008 I wanted to go top 10 in age group the next two years in the next two classes.  2009 I placed 7th in Sport, so of course, quitting on 2010 wasn't an option.  Iceman has always been a fun trip and it's a tradition for Mario and I to drive the 9 hours with whoever else wants in but this year I couldn't get excited about it like years past.  Maybe I was stuck on cross fever or maybe I'd spent too many hours on the road this season - I still don't know.
Michigan sky

Anyways, this year they changed the format and removed Beg/Sport/Expert classes and just lumped age groupers together.  Since this meant all expert were included, it still meant my goal was measureable.  Based on last year's time, I was to start in Wave 6 of about 40 at 9:22am.  We arived in Kalkaska with more than an hour to spare and I slowly got ready and on the bike for a warm up.  Heart rate was insanely low (57bpm if I sat still more than a couple minutes) and there were no nerves - quite the strange feeling prerace.  I managed to get in half an hour of warm up and headed to the line but got stuck in third row.  I handed off some extra clothes and 5-4-3-2-1, we're off!  I worked my way toward the front to avoid any wheel crossed crashes like last year's pro race, but instead of pulling I sat in until we hit dirt.  This is supposed to be a 28 mile point to point race, so there's no need to kill it at the start.  I sat comfortably second wheel for a couple miles and then started to fall off the pace and let a couple guys by. 
Iceman Cometh 2010 Start

Williamsburg Road "climb" (Big Ringed it!)
The first half of the race was spent passing about as many as passed me, trying to push it but not too hard.  I had a tough time mentally pushing to that pain/puke/cry limit and kicked myself for it later, but the second half of the race, or the more hilly portion was spent passing a few people at a time and rarely getting passed.  Maybe staying off the ppc limit wasn't such a bad idea to have something at the end?  All the while, I'm doing the math in my head to see if a sub two hour finish is possible - it was... until I hit the last bit of singletrack a mile from the finish and 15+ people were lined up doing 6 mph.  Ah well, guess that's the end of the sub-2 hopes!  I finished in 2:00:58 with an average speed of 14.4mph.  Good enough for 4th in 25-27 age group and 6 minutes faster than last year on a course that was 8 minutes slower for the Pros!
4th place medal
Last on the docket for the weekend was IceCross.  I was torn on whether or not to hang around to race or get on the road on Sunday morning but after some convincing from Glypie and recollection that the previous year had been a cool course with sweet prizes I suited up, paid my entry and warmed up.

Mark and Glypie at dinner Saturday @ Red Mesa Grill
As if it were a broken record, I took the hole-shot of the B race, had to shoulder someone around the second turn, which pissed me off and then started a new song by attacking and opening a gap.  For 3 laps it continued to open with a chase group of 3 nearly 20 seconds back.  Eventually one guy attacked the group and came after me and I made a bad line choice in the sand causing my rear wheel to slide in the dropout.  I hopped off to fix it and #2 saw and came out of the sand as I remounted... the battle was on!  Since he had just bridged and was gassed and I'd just spent 10 seconds off the bike with the repair, I attacked after the lap line just to stretch him out again.  Then with 3 laps to go, I rode steady on the front paying attention to where he was close and where he was struggling.  I located four attack points and on the last lap stood on the pedals at every one!  Finally, the third time was enough - I opened a few second gap again and rode steady to the line for my first CX win!

The sad news - they didn't have a podium, and the prizes consisted of a box of XL tshirts and an 8oz bottle of ELITE.  I've never used the latter, but it was the best option, if you use it, lemme know.

Other than one last photo, that's all for now.  Next up is Infirmary Mounds in Columbus followed by ProMotion in Lexington, John Bryan in Dayton (maybe), and the two-day in Indianapolis.  Currently I sit third in the series and it would be a dream season to finish top 5 in my first year in the 3's... we'll see!!
Couldn't resist a photo of this on the way home...