Sunday, November 11, 2007

South Plymouth Cyclocross

Sunday morning, like most cyclocross mornings, arrived with the best intentions. Despite a few hours of inhaling VOC's while painting the new apartment the night before, I awoke feeling rested and ready to get back on the bike. I'll spare the details for the lot of you, but some are already aware of my unfortunate remounting incident that has put a little swagger in my step, and kept me off the bike for the past few days.

Corner Cycle paid some respect to the cat 4 fodder and offered a 10 am start time, which allowed the temperature to rise, slightly... maybe. The air was bone dry, and after the first warm up lap I was already feeling the deep burn of the New England air. It felt like nordic skiing. It felt good.

I got to staging and found myself an outside position on the front line. The whistle blew and for once it was perfect. Gear choice was superb, feet clipped in -- I began to run through a few gears before the first 90 degree to the left. Another 90 degree over a sloping curb (less of a pinch-flat-waiting-to-happen then Chainbiter) and we were in the grass. And I was in second.

Here's where I made my first mistake. At this point, Todd Burns, who after today needs an upgrade, let up a bit. The first lap should be an all out war to drop the guys behind you, allowing you to "cruise" the last few laps. That is, of course, unless you've been dominating the cat 4 field the past few races and know you're fine where you're at, eg. you're last name is Burns.

So I held this pace through th first few turns, sitting in second. In hindsight I should have pushed him harder - yeah I wasn't going to drop him, or even the guys right on my wheel, but it would've given me a better cushion. And in about two laps I really would've appreciated a cushion.

We hit the first technical single track section, which featured a sweeping right hand turn into the woods, then a 90 degree left into a loamy uphill that you could push through in the right gear. Burns shifts poorly, drops his chain and comes to a stop, all over the course. I lose momentum, and hop off.

"I dropped my chain," he mutters, with a hefty column of air.

"mneph," I reply, as tiny bits of lung tissue get caught in my teeth.

This gave enough time for 3,4, and 5 to nip our heels. Two of them get me in the flats, and as we hit the second single track section, I'm sitting in 4th.

This section featured large cement slabs that kind of resembled stairs, running across the course about every 10 to 20 yards. There were about 6 spread out through the course. At the start a guy standing next to me voiced his concern over them. I told him they weren't as scary as they looked.

And they weren't... the first time. We came through fast, and I cut around the ones I could, and hopped the others. I was determined not to lose sight of second and third place. The course then ran into a pretty solid ascent. It was totally rideable, but if you slipped too much you were done. I made it through and came out of the woods ready to come through lap one in 4th place.

But what about the barriers? Let me preface this by saying, this course was almost, almost a great cyclocross course. The only problem was that as you came through to lap, with less than 200 meters to go, you had a sand pit, followed by barriers 25 feet later, followed by another sand pit 25 feet further. It was a tough section, I'll give them that, but the barriers could've been moved to a more suitable place - they were kind of an afterthought.

Second lap goes by without much incident, and I'm still with this group. We're pulling off 6 minute laps.

And then came the third lap. I was pushing hard through the second single track section, and I was losing my focus, and my finesse. As I hopped the last piece of cement my front wheel turned 90 degrees to my direction of travel. As soon as that tire hit the ground, I hit the ground -- fast and hard. Within 5 seconds I had six guys around me. With no momentum to carry me up the hill I was forced into a 30 second run up. My heart rate hit the roof and I was done.

From there on it was just damage control. Struggling to keep my place and not take out any of the juniors or 3/4 women who were all over the course. As I rode there was the obnoxious rustling of a leaf in my tire that I couldn't find. Turns out that when my tire struck the ground, it rolled off the bead, a leaf got stuck in the bead, and the tire sealed back up, without flatting. At least I had the perfect pressure.

I've got the classic hip scrapes, some minor leg cuts, and a very unhappy rib that revolts every time I cough up a bit of lung. I actually left before results came up, but I hear I was about 12th - I'll update this when I get the official results.


badbrad said...

I was the wheel right behind you when you went down! It was close... you pulled your legs out of the way just in time before I had to bunny hop you!

Colin R said...

pro: registering early for verge races

not pro: registering for the wrong category

Jordan said...

just keeping todd burns on his toes.