Monday, October 13, 2008

Movin' on Up

I would like to start off by thanking Lou of the Pony Shop for getting my rear wheel back in service so quickly after the DeKalb Cyclocross race. What was feeling like a potential great race for me at DeKalb turned sour after I rolled my rear tire and took a tumble. Lou got it reglued and delivered it to me at the race on Sunday. Now that is real personal serivce.

Fast forward one week to Hawthorne Woods Psychocross race. I had been hearing all week about a gigantic sled hill that was to be utilized twice per lap, and was nervous as we rolled up to the venue. Run-ups have never been my forte for whatever reason, and was worried that this might be kryptonite keeping me away from a good result. The sled hill did not disappoint, and not only was it used twice per lap, but the sections were back to back. We would ride up the hill, 180 at the top to a downhill, 180 and over a barrier into either a run-up or ride up (In the 3's I would say 95% of the riders ran up the hill) into another 180 followed by a screaming fast downhill followed by a righthand offcamber bumpy turn. The rest of the course was straightforward with lots of power sections (grass and asphalt) and one small section of mud that made for some fun, as well as decisive moments.

Being Top 10 in the series I received a front row call up for the race. The start was about a 100 yards of asphalt followed by an offcamber righthand turn straight into the climb. There was no relaxation at this start, I would maxing out the heartrate right from the gun. I was in good position as the climb started, sitting about 5th wheel. After exiting the sledhill we had already formed a small gap to the rest of the field. As the lap progressed, I latched onto teammate Stiggity's wheel, as he dragged me up to the start/finish line. I could tell this wasn't his day, and made a move to catch the 3 lead riders. (Looking back at this first lap I realize I need to be more agressive. I can't always count on others to make the move and for me to tag along. I should have put in a harder effort early to be with the 3 lead riders instead of being in chase mode the entire race). As the next couple of laps went by one of the 3 leaders dropped off the pace. As I caught him we began to work together, sharing the work evenly. He was riding a singlespeed, so I was definitely faster on the flats, but he was a strong climber and runner, and was setting the pace in those sections. We were never able to close the gap to the leaders, but at the same time it seemed that the gap never really increased that much either. (This is why I am frustrated about how I started the race. I can ride with these guys, but need to be with them from the start, lesson learned)

As the race progressed I tried a couple of times to lose Mr. Singlespeed. I was able to open up gaps on the flats, but he would close them on the run-up and downhill. I was definitely tenative on the downhill, due to an issue that started on the 2nd lap. The 2nd time exiting the sledhill my rear brake started going soft. Not sure exactly what happened, but I think I was pulling cable or the pads were moving, and I lost about 80% of the stopping power. The rest of the race I would have to rely heavily on my front brake, unfortunately about 3/4 through the race my front brake started going soft. So now all I had were two brakes with minimal stopping power. The turns and the downhills were touch and go, but I was able to get to the finish in one piece. Heading into the last two laps we were still together, trying to hold off a hard charging Tim Yuska of Team Get a Grip, as well catching lapped traffic. As we got to the muddy section there was a female rider in between me and Mr. Singlespeed. The female rider went down in the mud, making me put a foot down and almost bringing me to a standstill. Luckily I was able to get her to not move by yelling "Don't Move" and went right in between her and her bike. If she had grabbed for her bike, who knows what would have happened. I dug deep to close the gap to Mr. Singlespeed, but on the last time up the run-up I popped and he was able to get a nice gap on the downhill. I tried in vain to close the gap, but ended up rolling in 4th. This was by far my best result in a 3's race, so my next goal is to be on the podium. I had it in me this race, but cross is not always kind and until it actually happens I will be pushing hard.

After the race, Stiggity and I devoured burgers at Culvers, and got to watch the Bears implode in the last 20 seconds of the game.

That night Kelly and I went out to dinner with our friends Brian and Sarah at The Bristol, followed by seeing the Fleetfoxes show at the Metro. OK show, the band talked way too much between songs. The Bristol was really good with a great beer menu. I had a Belgium 40 of La Chouffe with dinner. Mmmm Good!!

We still haven't had any cross weather in Chicago. The 3's missed out on the rain last week at DeKalb, so hopefully Carpentersville can bring some fun conditions. If not, at least they will have a beer tent.


Tim said...

Nice race yesterday. I'm not sure if we were closing on the leaders, but the gap didn't seem to be increasing. Something to work on. See you next Sunday.

joeyTWOwheels said...

Holy crap, fella. You are very strong. Keep up the solid training program and have faith – it's there in front of you.

Thanks for the recap.