Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fine Tuning at Hallowcross - Sarnia

Decided to stick close to home, and do some fun local grassroots racing this weekend. And I sure am glad I did. Hallowcross Sarnia, has been going on for about 4 years now. Very low key, very low budget, and very fun! Located 5 mins off the Blue Water Bridge, the race is located at beautiful Canatara Park right on Lake Huron. With lots of open grass, punchy natural ancient sand dune forest hills, and nature trails with steep climbs, this place has it all. Further, its great to support an event that has a vision to bring racing to an area that has absolutely none! So like I said, I sure am glad I did it, and plan to be back for sure.

For such a small event, I was surprised to see 50+ Racers. Including a few of Ontario's finest Elites, Peter Mogg and Michael Aston. With guys like this popping in to race, its a matter of time before this becomes one of Canada's must do races!

Todd Powers and I loaded the Jeep up early and headed over to scope out the venue and visit Timmy Horton's before the race. We did our warm up and I was feeling good. The cool thing about races like this is, everything is new! New country to race in, new event, new course, and most importantly, new people! We all were on the line ready to go, and we were off! Todd did a great job of pulling the hole shot! I sat in around 5th, trying to gage the other riders. Half way through the first lap, the lead group of 6 turning into 3. And Peter was slipping away. I accelerated around, and began to close the gap to Peter. I was putting time into 3rd place as well. Finally I was feeling good and able to put out a good effort lap after lap. Peter continued to pull away a few seconds on me lap after lap until he was finally out of reach. With 1 lap to go, Michael was able to claw his way back to my wheel. Michael made a move to go around me, and I was good with it. It gave me a chance to gage his effort, and try to come up with a tactic. He was trying to accelerate to shake me, but could'nt. Up the to the steepest and highest point of the race, he still could not shake me. I sat in, but the pace remained high. Now on the back side of the lap, all that was left was a flat flowing section through the trees. A small dune hill with a few tricking loose sandy sections, a beach sand run around a tree, a small wood roller section. And finally, a short paved section with a right hand turn back into the grass to the finish. I knew the sections coming were going to be technical enough that the leader going in to them would have the best chance coming across the line first. As soon as the course tape opened up, I made my move with 1/4 lap left. I buried it and did not look back. I could tell it was hurting Michael, but I could not shake him completely. Through all the tricky sections and into the final grass straight I opened up my sprint with about a bike length lead. Then suddenly, I realized that the barriers that had been placed about 15 ft after the finish line were still in place (starting line was only used to begin the race and not the same area as the finish)! I pushed on but slightly eased up and braked as hard as I could when I hit the line so I would not crash into them. This allowed Michael to come along side me at the line and he did the same. We both skidded side ways and missed crashing into the barrier by about 4 ft! CRAZY!!!! The officials said they could not determine who took it by looking at the video or photo, and since the barriers were still in place which cause the finish not to be clean, decided to call it a tie for 2nd.

What a fun day! Congrats to TP battling the rest of the field and pulling out 4th place!

Iceman next!

Monday, October 21, 2013

That didn't go so well...

Its hard to believe we are basically halfway through the local CX season. It feels like its just started. Maybe it has something to do with mixed bag of results I have had thus far. So going into Mad Anthony, I was hoping to start firing on all cylinders again. When I got up, I was feeling good and as I left my driveway, it started pissing rain. This was going to be fun I thought, and was hoping to pick up a better place than 4th. So leading up to the race, I was excited to be racing at Historic Fort Wayne again, and was looking forward to Tailwind putting a twist on some improved course design. Plus, how many people can say that they race cyclocross in an mid 1800's decommissioned US Army fort, which is also a National Historic land mark! Very cool!

I got a good warm up in checked out all the new twist and turns, and was ready to go. I was disappointed that there was no paved sections at all... This was going to make it tough, and with the mud, oh yeah, we hard our work cutout for us. From the time the whistle blew, my race was a total disaster. I could not clip in - again! And was swarmed by everyone in Master 35, and 45+. I found my self chasing everyone on a clogged up course. About halfway through I was able to work up somewhere between 5th or 6th. And in a easy, but slick corner, I found myself on the ground. 1,2,3, riders went by me one by one. I lost everything I gain. I tired to surge again. Slowly pulling back one at a time. Then I went down again! It was still the first lap, and I was near the end of field for every class. I put my nose down and tried to grind my way back. The legs were not responded like they should have. I was able to pull past Pete T, Andy F, and a few others. And was within yards of Brian W, and Wade B. And then with 2 laps ago, my legs did not want anything more to do with the effort, and like someone let the air out of my tires, I started going backward. I finished, but finished dead last.

Moving on...

Congrats to Ray Auger on the Win! That was awesome, and you are riding well!

Thanks to Beat the Train Andy for doing everything it takes to get the right people involved to not only make this race keep happening, but making it better!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Michigan Mud?

It wasn't epic, but it was mud! And it was fun to play in for sure. For many geological reasons, Michigan soaks up rain like a sponge. So it seems that most of our cross races are typically on the dry side, even with it rains. But be got a treat Sunday, with steady rain the night before, and more throughout the day, the ground gave up its precious soil and let us have some mud! What made it even better was we got to play in it at Lower Huron, my favorite place to race CX. And this year the venue did not disappoint!

As the course slowly began to fall apart throughout the day, it was finally time for the Elite/Masters race. I was really excited to get this one on, as I have been feeling great. Everything seems to be clicking finally, and now its time to test things out. All the usually suspects were on the line and ready to battle. The whistle blew and Boom! we were off to the first corner like jack rabbits. I had a slow start off the line but quickly jumped back up near the front. Alex was a few spots ahead, so I decided to settle in on Brian W's wheel. Andy F, Ron S, and Ben C were in the mix as well. Ben decided it was not play time, and stayed to stretch the rubber band a bit. He was riding fast and smooth. Brain, Andy and Myself latched on. Shortly into the race Don C and Patrick R caught and passed up. Recognizing the opportunity to hop on the train. Ben accelerated. We followed. it was painful already but the gaps were growing. After a lap of this. We ended up going around Dan and Pat, and they were in their own battle. I worked my way onto Ben's wheel. As we approached the steep run up, Ben tried to ride. I un-clipped and ran. As Ben made it to the top, he slipped out and I ran past. I was now leading the train. Through the loop again, Andy made his move. Brain and I chased. back up the hill. Andy tried to ride and again I ran. Same result. Now it was Brian and I. We continue to battle through the middle of the race. Near the beginning of the course, I went around him and took a dig. It seemed to work. I was alone. But not for long. With about 3 laps to go, a flying Simon Bailey came around me. I latched on and let him work. We took turns taking the lead and trying to shake each other. Soon after, Wade Burch made his way to the back end. Now there was 3 with 2 laps to go. It was a stale mate for the last 2 laps, and all the while Brad Lako was slowing inching his way across the gap. With the last section of the course to go. Simon came around to grab the front. Wade followed. I was OK with this and was ready to play it out in the end. We came into the 2nd to last corner. As I came through the pinnacle of the turn, my rear wheel slipped. Simon and Wade instantly got 5 ft on me! Ugh! By the time I hit the pavement the were out of reach. I never got to sprint it out for 2nd, but was happy with 4th on a very tough and technical day of cyclocross!

Thanks to my Mom, Bob Bruce, Shaun Welch for the pictures!