Tuesday, November 25, 2008
4 + 1 = One Fine Day of Racing
At the beginning of last week, I was planning to travel down to WV to do the WVMBA Bruceton Mills Cross Race, mainly because I could do the race and still have time to make it to work in the afternoon. Well, like most of this season, my plans changed midweek. J-Pok sent me an email with a link to the Ohio State Championship Cross Race in Columbus, OH. I almost did not even click on the link because I knew that doing the race would require me to burn another day of leave, something I have done too many times this year probably. But, I did click on the link and liked everything that I saw in regards to the race. So, I said what the heck about using more leave from work and decided to register for both the elite masters race and also the elite race. Yes, two cross races in one day.
The first race of the day was the elite 35+ masters race, which had about 30 registered riders line-up at the starting line. I had a good start and soon after the first few turns a small group of riders including myself broke free from the rest of the pack. That pack then whittled down to just me and bikereg.com rider Frederick Rose. It was nice to have another rider with me because the course had quite a few long straight-aways and the wind was blowing hard. We traded off pulls at the front up until the last lap. I noticed during our previous laps that I would gap Rose going over the double barriers, so I diecide to increase my speed through the barriers on the last lap to hopefully create a big gap. My strategy worked and I was able to maintain the gap until the finish, winning the race.
Immediately after finishing the first race I put on some warm clothes and jumped on my trainer to keep my legs loose. After riding the trainer for about 40 minutes I made my way over to starting line for the elite race. When I got there, the race officials were already starting call ups. This was not a typical 8 slot starting line, though, so I was still able to sneak in to the first starting row, which was probably at least 15 guys wide. Next the official says listen for the whistle to start, but first let's take a moment of silence...(what????)...then a song that I haven't heard since the 80's starts playing loudly, Survivor's Eye of the Tiger...you know from the Rocky Movie. I expected them to play the whole song and was a bit confused about this whole starting ordeal, when suddenly I hear a whistle and see a rush of riders come flying around me. I instantly went from my nice front row starting position to mid-pack or worse right from the gun. Knowing that I needed to do a lot of work to get back towards the front, I starting sprinting with every opportunity that I had. The course was laid out much wider than most cross course that I have done, so I was able to work my way up to a group of about 5 riders that had already pulled away from the pack. It took me a lap or so for my legs to recover from this effort, so I just sat at the back of this pack. During this time, and because of a couple of riders directly in front of me crashing in the turns, two riders were able to escape from our leading group. I tried chasing hard for one lap, but it was not enough to catch the two that had escaped and created a pretty big gap. So, Mike Mihalik, Phil Noble, Andy Messer and I were then in between the two leaders and the quickly disintegrating rest of the pack. It seemed as if Mike and I were doing the majority of the work and I was okay with that since I was basically doing the race for a hard day of training. Near the end of the race, Mike and I had escaped from the other two riders. Mike then dropped me going through the last few off camber turns, which lead to him taking 3rd and me finishing 4th.
The Cap City Cross Guys did a great job with the race and offered up some super prize money, too. After looking at some muddy pictures of the WVMBA Race, I do think that my switch in plans was a good one. It was cool to get in a really hard day of racing/training by doing two races in one day and it was also cool being able to take a 1st and 4th place.
Andy had a great weekend of racing too by finishing second both days at the MAC Races in South Hampton, NY. The only rider to top him both days was super human master racer Roger Aspholm from the Westwood Velo Team, so congrats to Andy on his best MAC finishes ever.
Next up is the Murraysville Cross Race! From the looks of the forecast, my reprieve from mud this past weekend will come to an end on Sunday. I may actually try racing my fixed gear cross bike at this race if conditions are bad enough. I have noticed that my fixie rides mud and snow much better than a regular single speed or geared bike does because of the rear wheel constantly turning. I am not sure if USA Cycling rules permit the use of a fixed gear bike for mass start races, but if they do, it might even be the right choice for Nationals in a few weeks if the conditions are as bad as last year. If anyone does know the answer to racing a fixie in a mass start event please do advise me. Later - Gerry