Sunday, October 28, 2007


Another week has passed, and along with it has come the stark reminder that the real world, replete with homework, papers to grade, and grant proposals, does not often mesh kindly with the fantasy world of cat 4 cross racing. Some seriously late nights and "PhD stress" (excuses excuses) kept me off the bike most of the week, though I did manage to get a session on the trainer (see also: make-you-hate-your-bike machine) long enough to remember that a) I sweat a lot, and b) things hurt a lot more when you're staring at a hard wood floor.

Needless to say I felt good coming into this weekends event at Canton, Mass. I had signed up for the race on Tuesday, and was excited to see a solid field of 45 racers. By Saturday evening there were 94 pre-registered cat 4's. Race directors take note: 10:00 am start times will double your cat 4 field.

After a luxurious 7:00 AM wake up, and a real breakfast, I was off to the races. I had absolutely no idea of what kind of a goal to set for this race. 95 racers is a lot of riders. At Gloucester, even with my 90th starting position, I was in contact with the top 15 at one point - so assuming a reasonable start I was looking for a top 20 finish. Reasonable enough to inflate my self-esteem if I got it, but enough of a stretch that a mechanical would provide adequate excuse for failure.

On the first warm up lap, a little colin-esque voice in the back of my head was screaming "Grass Crit!" The course had a uphill pavement start into a fire road, back and forth through some grass, uphill UCI barriers, short single track, lots more grass, the sketchiest pavement-covered-with-deadly-but-lovely-autumn-leaves, some off camber, some tiny barriers (less than 8 inches), a mildly technical downhill into a run up onto a running track, more grass, fast barriers, and finally back to the start to lap through. Yeah, it was long. It was flat. I wasn't digging it after the first warm up lap, when, blinded by the sun, I struck a pedal coming out of the technical downhill and shot my right pedal into my quad right above my knee. Great way to start the day. Warm up lap 2, crazy old cat 4 on a cannondale wipes out on the paved section and slides 15 feet across a turn in front of me - Totally worth it. I got over myself, and quickly decided that the course was fun.

Somehow I made it to the start line an got a reasonable position in the front row. They staged up the race with about 5 feet of space between rows, which was pretty nice. At the whistle I immediately fumbled with my pedal, and watched the entire front row engulf me. This did, however, open up a substantial gap on the left side which Tyler took like a madman, and sealed himself the hole shot. On the first barrier I nailed my remount. I mean, I didn't stutter step, I just had the incredibly goofy leap-of-faith, in the air long enough to contemplate how ridiculously high you've jumped, remount. This resulted in the nose of my saddle dropping about 2 inches. It remained that way until another matrix-style remount put it into correct position.

The first lap was the usual jockeying, passing, getting passed, until I settled into about 10th place. Thus began my mind-fuck. Thoughts of last weekend haunted me. Though I didn't blog about it, day two of catamount saw me move from 3rd to 9th at one point. The classic blow-up. I needed to keep this race under control and work on a steady pace that would hold a gap behind me. I got passed and held on to 11th for a lap, with a pesky rider on my wheel the whole time.

After a majority of a lap of me pulling this kid he decides that he's gonna do some "work."

see also: pull in front, tell me to hang on, and slow down like crazy.

This back and forth went on, and the top-ten slipped away. Last lap, coming around the track, I see a flash of red out of the corner of my eye. Instantly I knew... Eric Edlund, MIT, fast as hell sprinter. If I came into the finish stretch with him, I was losing my 11th. The little wheelsuck pulled ahead a bit, so I had no more tiny draft - this was gonna be all me. Get over the last set of barriers, and put it in the big ring. Tiny is spinning ahead on the hill. I put my head down and jump on it - coming along his left side out of no where, frantically looking back to see Edlund charging up the hill. I crossed the line, a triumphant 11th, and after emptying the tank on the course, emptied my stomach on the grass.

Next weekend should be interesting, two big verge races, and the reasonable possibility of a top 10 finish, and maybe some elusive upgrade points. Cross is addicting.

Cross gets me to normal.


Colin R said...

booting at the finish line? chicks dig that shit. unless you splash on them.

Jordan said...

I thought I saw some of those junior's mom's checkin' me out afterwards...