Saturday, December 12, 2009

One reason I like to do the cyclocross nationals is because it is a great way to end the season with a big bang. Not only is the racing a lot of fun, but the whole experience at the race is something not to miss. Ultimately, the plan of coming out here is to do well and really end the season on a high note. Sadly, my plan to finish one of my races well did not come through.

Today my starting position was better, with a fourth row line-up. The start was fast and my position seemed okay going into the first turn, but like almost every race the past couple of days a crash in the front of the pack caused things to backlog for everyone. I happened to get stuck directly behind this mess and probably fell from about 20th to 50th place. After everything started going again, the leaders had a good gap and I had a lot of work to do to get back towards the front.

I kept moving through the group pretty well. I kind of knew where I was in the race because I was getting my position called out by spectators on the course. With about three laps completed, I had worked my up to about 25th place and was feeling good. I ran up the long step section on the course, jumped on my bike and attempted to pedal, but snapped my chain with the pedal stroke. I was way too far from the pit to even consider running in for a bike exchange and since I was not in any serious contention, I decided my best choice was to DNF. Man, what a bad streak of luck I had out here.

Now that the racing is done the real fun will begin. It started this afternoon with Brian and I watching some awesome master racing. Tonight there is a whole cyclocross nationals bash going on, with a movie premiere, bands and a big shindig at the Deshcutes Brewery. Tomorrow will even be better with the elite women and men doing their races. Considering how crazy the atmosphere was at the races today, things will be nuts tomorrow for the elite races.

This video link is from the first lap of the single speed race I did yesterday at a tricky off camber section of the course that was icy and frozen. There is a glimpse of me about 45 seconds into the video. I think this will give everyone an idea of the treacherous the course was during its frozen period. This afternoon all of that stuff melted up pretty good and it became a muddy mess.

Well, time to enjoy the evening with a bunch of cyclocross fanatics. Happy Trails, Gerry

Friday, December 11, 2009

No Luck

The single speed race at cross nationals did not go too well today. First, the lottery method of call up put me towards the back of the pack at the start. I basically started in the position I would have had with the registration method of being called up, so no loss there really. Things went a little better for me during the first lap and half as I was able to avoid a magnitude of crashes and work my way into the top 30 riders. But, then, my luck turned bad again when I crashed hard on an icy off camber section of the course. The crash caused my right brake lever to completely crack off my handlebars, leaving me with only one brake and no lever hood to grasp for steering control. With no single speed pit bike and being too far from the pit to beg for another bike, I made the choice to pull out of the race and save my legs for the next day.

My luck did change for the better again when after my crash I went over to the SRAM Tech Tent and was set-up with a new right brake/shift lever. I use SRAM stuff on my bike because it is light and shifts incredibly, but the customer service they give is second to none. Thanks for the help SRAM.

Well, I am resting up now for the big race tomorrow after hanging out at the course and watching a lot of great cross action all day. In addition to getting some rest, I should probably keep my fingers crossed tonight for some better luck, too.
The temperature went high enough late today to melt a lot of the snow and ice off the course. This will probably turn the course into a sheet of ice for the early races tomorrow, since the temperature is going down to 20 degrees tonight. No snow fell today, but it is possible for tonight. My race tomorrow is at 9:30 AM, so it should be pretty sketchy and interesting.

More updates to come tomorrow. Happy Trails, Gerry

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Nats 'N That

Well, I had a chance to ride the course yesterday and today and I must say it is a blast to ride. I will also say that it is not roadie friendly and is definitely suited more for mountain biker riders, mostly because of the snow and ice on the course. The only downfall I can mention is that the course could be wider, especial after the first turn. Each of the larger races totally bottlenecked at the first turn off of the starting pavement.

Brian Wieczorek raced today in the 40-44 men B race. He started near the back of the entire 142 rider pack and worked his way up through field to finish in 55th place; quite an accomplishment considering the course conditions. Kelly Cline, a MAC Racer and Promoter had a good ride in the B Race and finished 12th place. Additionally, in the 40+ women B race, Pittsburgh Rider, Suzan Falvey, had a great ride at her second ever cyclocross race and finished in 6th place. The picture above Doc W. and Suz is pictured below.

The interesting thing about the B races and other non-championship races is how they stage the riders in the starting grid. In an attempt to make the start fair for all, ten numbers are randomly selected and called out to all staged riders. If the last number of your bib matches the called out number, you can go to the starting line. I guess it is the fairest thing that can be done to give every rider and equal chance of a good starting position. Unfortunately for Brian, his number was the last chosen. The open single speed race that I am doing tomorrow will also be staged in this fashion. There are 129 riders in the single speed race and my bib number is 888, basically meaning I would be starting in 88th place with the old registration method of calling up riders. I will be happy with any starting slot better than 88…keep your fingers crossed for me.

Well, that is about it for my daily updates. I will write again tomorrow. Happy Trails, Gerry

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Off to Bend

The end of the 2009 cycling season has come and it is time for my last two races of the year. As I write this, I am flying west with Doctor W. for the cyclocross national championships in Bend, OR. The racing should be awesome in Bend and I am sure the scenery will be equally as grand. While in Bend, I am going to attempt to do daily posts about the racing action and the experiences of the trip. But, first, I need to give a brief race report from the last race of the Cleveland Lake Effect Series at Broughton Farm, which was near Akron, OH.

My individual effort at Broughton Farm was nothing to write home about, finishing 5th overall in the elite race. I was hoping to have a great race before nationals, but like last year at Broughton Farms it was not to be. I was third overall in series points before doing the race and needed a race win and for Shawn Adams to have a bad race in order for me to move up to second overall in the series. My pre-race plan was to go hard at the beginning and shoot for the win, but this plan disappeared pretty quickly after completing the few laps.

Matt Weeks took the hole shot at the start and never looked back, taking the win with a 2.5 minute advantage over second place - Paul Martin. I rode a lap or so with Paul at the beginning, but trying to match his power in the soft muddy conditions stole any remaining energy from my legs. Shortly thereafter, Dan Quinlan caught and passed me. I was then joined by Shawn and rode with him until there were about two laps to go in the race. Eventually he got a gap on me and rode it in for fourth place in the race. After determining my legs were not up for taking the win and that my finish was not going to change my series standing, I must admit that I started racing pretty conservatively. The last thing I wanted to do was trash either my body or my bike with one week remaining before nationals. Nevertheless, I cannot account for why my legs felt so flat at the start of the race. Last year I raced on my single speed at Broughton Farm and thought this was the reason for my bad race. This year I can only blame my lack of peak fitness.

Even though I don’t have the fitness level I think that I should going into nationals, I still feel pretty good and will do my best to put out two last super hard efforts in my final two races of the year: the open single speed and 40-44 master men races in Bend, OR. At this point, there is no more time for preparation. I am where I am fitness wise and hopefully it is enough to allow me to at least finish higher than the 9th place I had last year at nationals. But, even if I don’t have a great race, I am sure it will be a great time. Happy Trails, Gerry