Sunday, October 14, 2007

Gloucester - Part 1

The big weekend has come and gone - and after all the hype I'm quite satisfied with my first experience at New England World Championships. Brian came up for the races, and proved that its not possible for him to take any sort of cycling lightly.

We were both registered for the men's 4 race, which went off at 9 am both days. Friday night I begrudgingly set the alarm for 5:30 and reminded myself why I should train and move up to B's and get some freakin' sleep.

I awoke on Saturday morning out of frustration for the MBTA Bus barrier in the cross race during my REM. When I rolled over to check the time I saw it was 6:30 - the classic set-the-alarm-for-PM-instead-of-AM mistake had gotten me again! Despite our panicked departure we arrived with plenty of time to get our numbers and preview the course.

As I got to staging I was a little uneasy about the start - an uphill pavement stretch with a slight left hand turn, oh, and 124 other cat 4's. We were staged by registration order, and I was about 90th. The whistle blew and there was a good 5 seconds before I was in the saddle. I knew the only hope was to burn it for this first lap or the front of the pack would be gone. I made my way through the pack, picking off riders in groups of 5 or 10, sometimes taking my track experience and squeezing through some fairly tight spots, much to the dismay of the other riders.

When we hit the hole shot I had probably moved up about 35-40 places, puting me around 50th. Through the first lap I picked off enough riders to get up to about 35th place. Things were feeling really good - I wasn't going under, still had some gas in the tank. Turns out taking 2 weeks off with a head cold left me well rested and ready to go.

On lap three coming into the run up I discovered that my new pedals and shoes weren't exactly dialed in, and the resulting 35 degree release angle on my left foot sent me nearly through the tape at the bottom of the barrier run up. Frazzled as I was, I made my way over the barriers, which felt like they were about 4 feet tall, and into the SRAM switchback section. Made it through the 180, but the off camber wet grass got the better of me, and I went down hard on my left side, sliding across the grass.

Shit. I dropped my chain, my brain wasn't working, I had no idea what I was doing. Maybe it was the lactic acid getting between the neurons. I fumbled for a minute with the chain, until I was yelled at for standing on the turn. I snapped to, and ran the rest of the turn as about 10 guys, including Brian, got past me. Up until then I held on to a shred of hope that maybe, just maybe, I'd beat Brian in a cycling race. Not going to happen. Finally I got the chain on and headed back up the pavement.

Despite the embarrassing chain debacle, I held on for a 43rd place finish, which was good enough for me given the crash and my terrible barrier traverse.

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