Sunday, October 19, 2008

This is CX! -- Lower Huron Cyclocross!

I just love this place. When I think of cyclocross, this is one of the first venues that pops up in my mind. It has a long fast stretch of pavement for the start, and energy zapping sand volleyball court to run through, lots of fast straight and twisty grass sections, 2 track, a set of up hill barriers, and oh yeah -- that race deciding monster run up! Besides the course, Lower Huron is just a great park and in the peak of fall color, it just makes it that much more enjoyable that you are racing cyclocross here.

As for the racing today, I decide to race the normal routine in the C-class and then try to mix it up for 45 mins for additional pain in the Single Speed class. I was looking for the extra training. So what better way to get some extra training in than doing a CX race right? I was asking myself all the way to Lower Huron -- Am I nuts? Well maybe, but I am still alive and I did all right in the process. Heck, now I am even thinking I might try and go for a series award in single speed like I did in the MTB time trail series..... we will see.

Race 1. It was cold. Very cold. Still a lot of slippery frost on the ground at the start. There were 22 folks in my class and we were ready to go. I lined up front row. The whistle blew and we were off! I pulled the entire field into the first grass section. Nobody wanted to lead going into the hole shot. They would rather draft off of me. So at one point I actually backed off to see if someone would go around. Nope! Oh well, this was the safest place to be in the first lap. As we twisted through the grass we came up on the sand in the volley ball court. This year you ran through it, turned 90 degrees, and then run back through it again. And oh yeah, no body was riding their bikes through it this year. There were 2 logs placed at the beginning of the sand, so everyone was forced off the bike. So we were back on the bike and back into the grass. This is where my MTB bike handling and power to the pedals came in handy as I was able to force a gap into the field. Through the first set of barriers and onto the 2 track. More my style, push! push! push! a twist and turn, push! push! push! I was gaining on most of the field. I approached the next set up barriers placed in front of the monster run up, shouldered the bike, and 2 guys shot past me with mountain bikes like they were riding an escalator. WOW! I hoped on the bike and was able to hold onto their pace. There was a Wolverine rider with me, and we tried to work together to keep up the pace. He could not hold on so I figured I would go to bridge the gap. By the end of the 2nd lap, I was sitting in 3rd with a 20 sec gap on 4th place and within striking distance of the leaders. Then It felt like I had a flat tire. I looked down and saw I had a 3 ft stick jammed between my chain stay and small ring. and the rest of it was rubbing on my tire. I thought about stopping, but then I would lose my lead over 4th. I got to the grass again and the stick broke. It was no longer dragging on my tire, but it was still pushing on my chain ring causing drag with each pedal stroke. The Wolverine rider caught me again, but I was able to pull away even though I was pushing harder because of the stick. with 2 laps to go I pushed and pushed and pushed. Took a few more looks back saw no one in sight, and finished with my first "actual" podium spot of the year for CX -- 3rd!

Race 2. I felt good after the first race so I was thinking I am going to be alright for 45 more mins of racing, on a single speed, um - right? So I lined up at the back of the B-class with the other 2 single speeders for the day. My goals were easy for this race.
1 - Finish
2 - don't get lapped by the B-class leader.
We took off and I was surprised I was mixing it up well with the tail end of the B-class on my under geared single speed mountain bike. I kept on pushing as hard as I could and accomplished both my goals. And for my efforts I got 2nd place! The hardest part of the race was doing the monster run up 6 times after I just did it for 30 mins 4 times. And I was surprised at my overall times. They were not too far off from my C-class times and I stayed within 1 min for each lap for the entire race. So This was a good test to see how my training is coming along. But man am I tirrrreeeedddd!

And lets not forget, Lee (TSB team mate) came out and did his first CX race. And the Mofo took 10th place! way to go Lee. Jason made it down for the pain in the sun and improved greatly from his Stony result a few weeks ago with a solid 15th. And then there is Nolan. He gave a clinic in the kids race by showing them how to clear the barriers and came home with 2nd.

Capt' Curt -- Thanks for hanging out with us and snapping all the sweet pictures! You will get your's next year!

Capt' Curt's pics from Lower Huron CX!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Build! Build! Build! Stony Creek CX

Well that may not work for the economy right now, but my training plan is going well. Stony Creek CX was another training day for me in my build up to (I hope) peak performance in a few weeks. But come on, it is still a cyclocross race, and I was feeling good.

Stony over the last 2 seasons had been one of the more tame courses in the Tailwind Series. But not this year. This thing was a maze! Very hard to get speed. Robert threw in a nice log climb to get you off the bike. The entire beach was used for a hike-a-bike for about 200 yrds. The little sand box was used and there was an uphill climb for the barriers. But for some reason and I still can't figure it out, the more it hurts the more fun I have! Overall I was very pleased. I hit my goal of a top 5 position with 4th (even though I was robbed of my bling. Top 3 only... Come on!) But it is still on paper. In terms of my training, my laps were rock solid and consistent the 1st 2 laps were the exact same time and the 3rd was a few seconds faster. So I am almost where I want to be.

As for the rest of the day. A few highlights. My team mates were out in full force with 4 Team Sandbagers racing! The new kid Todd Law (now called T3) came out and rocked the field in his first ever CX race and put up a 2nd place! WOW. When Todd ran past me through the sand and remounted his bike, it looked like the kid had been racing cross for 20 years. Way to go and way to represent the team. Benny Miller finished well with a 7th Not bad considering he has not been on his bike all year and was competing in a field of 27 racers. And to round out the TSB crew, Jason Schneider finished solid with 23rd in his first CX race of the year.

And then there is my "apprentice" the OX! Jasooooon Melecccooossskkky taking 1st place in his second CX race ever. Man he is strong as hell. I can't believe the amount of power he generates in his pedal stroke. But look out kid, no more pointers. But hey hell of a job...