Monday, December 9, 2013

Michigan Cyclocross State Championship! - Addison Oaks

The last dance. It's really been an incredible CX season. At least for the Masters 35+ Class. I don't ever remember as much consistent talent week after week as there has been this year. I said in week 1, that there were 10 legit guys that could win a race in this class any given week! And that never changed - all the way to till the end. We all threw blows, rubbed wheels, cut lines, hooked bars, drew blood, and finished each race by giving hugs . All season long we were each other's biggest fans and I believe each of us left it all on the course each week until the end. This is what made coming into the state championship special. It was still going to be any one's race to win.

The day was cold! In the mid teens cold. But the anticipation on racing made the numb fingers and toes feel natural. It wasn't going to matter. There was only 60 more mins of suffering left in 2013, so the cold was the least of concerns.

I was excited and nervous at the same time. My experience has taught me this is a good thing, as long as you can control it. I did my best, and just made sure I got a good warm up in. I went for a ride on the rock solid frozen course with JMAK. I had on my Grifos, and in the first few corners I found myself on my ass. JMAK yelled "Its just practice! Come on!" This made my nerves worse! I finished a lap, and went to the truck and put the lucky Dugast Rhinos back on that have severed me well since Vet's Park. This helped but buy the ground was still unpredictable and full of surprises in every turn!

We all lined up behind the elites and took off like scared Deer! The pace was crazy fast and the carnage began in the first few off camber corners. I got a poor start but was content with just sitting in. I could See Steve B leading the pack of masters with Wade, Andy, and Brian just behind. Simon was with me along with JMAK. We picked our way through some slower riders, and I was feeling good. Lap 2, the course opened up a bit, and we started to move. Simon, JMAK and myself were closing in on the lead group that contained Alex and Steve. Halfway through the lap, we came up on Alex and Steve laying on the ground with bikes tangled! It was a mess. Alex appeared to be hurt as well. A young elite rider took them both out! We were now even closer to the front. JMAK now made his first move. He got a small gap, but I was able to cover. Simon and a few others were not able to hang on. 3/4 of the way through the 3rd lap. JMAK and I caught Brain and Wade who were now the leaders of the Masters 35+ There pace had slowed quite a bit, so we were above to sit in and recover. I was still feeling good and was waiting for an opportunity to pounce. The in one of the slight off camber turns, my front tire found a frozen slippery rut and I went down! In the process I shattered my buckle on my Left shoe! UGH! Not good! I got back up and saw that I went from lead group to chasing from about 7-10th. Don't panic, plenty of time. I kept telling myself. This left me lighting a lot of matches, but I knew what I had to do. I picked off the guys in my class one by one. Finally after about 2 more laps, I finally caught everyone but JMAK who was pouring it on and was going to be difficult to catch. I sat in for moment and looked for an opportunity. On the beginning of the next lap. Wade decided he needed to go. I followed. Brian could not hold, and Simon was back even farther, along with a charging Todd Greene. Soon after Wade washed out in front of me in one of the tricky turns. I just barley missed him and went through clean. I was now in 2nd (leading the 35-39 State title race) I made a few more attacks to open up some more room and try to pull back JMAK. After the barriers I had a nice gap. And then Alex made it back on my wheel! Where the hell and how did he get here? AMAZING!!!! I thought. He soon pulled by. I hung on to his wheel for as long as I could but it was not going to happen today. He was on a mission!

I was still in a great position and feeling good even after the additional work I had to do to get near the front again. I knew that Alex and JMAK were both over 40, so I may not be able to win the race, but I was in position to win my first Master 35-39 State Championship title, and possible the overall series title. My goal was to keep my gap and continue to apply pressure to everyone behind me without making mistakes! I rode hard and smooth. The crowd was amazing and loud near the KLM tent and barriers each lap, and this just motivated me to go as hard as possible.

Through the sand, one last time, I knew I had done enough and just rode out the last few corners of the lap. I held on to a solid 3rd, but finally won a Masters 35-39 State Championship Title!

Congrats to Alex on the 40-45 State title, last race win, and series overall! You deserved it.
Congrats to JMAK on a solid season end - You never give up and I love it!
Congrats to Simon, Brain, Andy, Ray, Todd, Brad, Pete, Wade, and all the other Masters 35+ Players for an outstanding season from all of you.
Congrats to Sven, Kelly, JB, Dave Z, Tom B on their state titles.
Congrats to Dennis W, and Mark C on their State podiums.

Thank you Tailwind for providing some great racing in out state, and KLM for support during the race. Especially Brad for working the pits!

Thanks to my Mom and Dad for coming out and supporting me at all the races. Even in the nastiest of weather conditions!

Thanks again Mike's Mix, Macomb Bike, and Apto Studio for all your support all year long!

Time for a much needed break.


Anonymous said...

So stinking good John! This race season was the most fun I've had on a bike in a long time. I feel very fortunate to get to line up with such great people with positive energy. Some of the heart and true grit I've seen this year will stick with me forever and I look forward to being a part of it again next season. My very best to you my friend. Congrats.

BrAdLaKo said...

Nice job John!

Andy Fedewa said...

Congrats John. It sure was a fun season racing with such a great bunch of guys. Rest up and enjoy your accomplishment. Before you know it we will back at it again.

SSchaffert said...

Great job John! Now get ready for next season...