Monday, November 23, 2009

Cows, Guns, Trophies and Cyborgs.

I had an interesting weekend of racing with a lot of different sights and observations.

The racing and sights started on Saturday in Bruceton Mills, WV at the Don Parks Residence. Don has had cross races on his property ever year since 2004. Before racing there on Saturday, my only other race at Don’s was in 2005. The changes in the course from ’05 to this year were 100% better and made the race a true fast and fun cx course, thanks to Gunnar helping with the design. The start of the race traveled up Don’s driveway passing a fenced in cow pasture, with the cows standing along the fence watching the racers closely like the fans at a Belgium Cyclocross Race. The race then went around Don’s house and twisted around his entire yard in a clever design. After the first couple of laps, Gunnar and I separated ourselves from the rest of the pack. I tired to get a gap on Gunnar a few times during the race, but my single speed bike choice was just not giving me the right gear to get clear from him. I made a decision with 3 laps to go to switch to my geared bike, which was waiting in the pit. The bike change made an increase in my speed immediately noticeable. After the switch of bikes, I waited until the next lap to make another attack on Gunnar. I attacked on the toughest climb of the course and was able to gain a few seconds advantage with my move. I was then able to maintain my gap over Gunnar for the remainder of the race and take the win. While taking a cool down lap on the course, some guys with guns started shooting at a target, which was just off the race course loop. I am pretty sure that WV is the only place where herds of domesticated animals and guys with guns come to checkout a cross race. The only thing to top the sights viewed during the race was receiving a trophy for the win that was almost too big to fit into the back of my car for the trip Home.

My second race of the weekend was at Kirkland Park in Cleveland, OH. Again, the course put on by Team Lake Effect was superbly designed. Kirkland Park is a little park right outside Cleveland with a small amphitheater built into a hillside. The course uses this man made feature along with concrete steps also built into the hill for technical features, along with a lot of twisty stuff. In addition to the toughness of the course, I had to race against the Ohio Cyborgs (my new nickname for riders like Paul Martin, Matt Weeks and Dan Quinlan). Paul is and has been Mr. Consistency for years and Matt is riding super strong this year; both perform more like machines than humans. Dan is newer at racing cross, but has really started to come on during the past few weeks. Both last week and this week I witnessed two crashes which would have caused most riders to abandon the race. Last week Matt went down hard on a gravel turn and then pretty much got back up and started working his way back through the pack. The only thing that kept him from rejoining the lead group was a rolled tubular tire later in the race. At the start of the race on Sunday, Dan did something that caused him and his bike to go head over heels at least a few times. Again, I figure he was probably done racing for the day; however, by the end of the race he fought back for a fifth place finish. I am not sure what is in the water up there in Cleveland, but these guys are definitely a little tougher than your average human. Anyway, I finished the race in third behind the cyborg duo of Matt and Paul.

This coming weekend I am traveling to Allentown, PA for the PA State Cyclocross Championship Race and to Staten Island, NY on Sunday for two more CX races. On Sunday, I am doing a single speed only race at 11am and then the elite race at 2pm, so this is going to be one hard weekend of racing with 3 races in two days. Maybe some of that Ohio Cyborg Toughness has rubbed of on me this season and it will help me be just a little stronger this weekend. If not, at least I am sure that I will still have the opportunity to experience more interesting sights in and around the races , but I am sure none of them will be quite as unique as those in WV. Again, thanks needs to be given to Team Lake Effect, Don Parks and all the other WVCXS People for putting on two great cross races.

Happy Thanksgiving Friends - Gerry

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