Sunday, November 2, 2008

Preview of host park for 2008 USA Cyclocross Championship

pics courtesy of Heather Taylor

Boss Cross #1 was held at Tiffany Springs Park in the nothland in Kansas City, MO. this is actually the site of this years Cyclocross national championships. taking the place of last years host, Wyandotte County park. i had actually checked the venue out a couple of weeks ago on the way home from the airport. lets just say my initial view of the park didn't leave me jumpimng for joy. not for any other reason other than i was dreading the course cuz i didn't think it was a course that would lend to my strengths(strength). the park, as far as i could figure, where the cx course would be set up.......looked like it was going to have a serious amount of climbing invloved. ugggh! not something that i am going to get real excited about. of well, i thought........maybe i am at the wrong part of the park???? i don't think so.....

so saturday morning rolls around. i leave work right at 7 am. actually got a good nite sleep. no late nite calls, and my legs didn't seem to have the same soreness as thursday and friday. i was really worried, cuz my wednesday interval workout really seemed to shred my legs and i didnt seem to be bouncing back like i should. some reaffirmation from mark thomas on the telephone friday evening told me everything was as it should be. my legs will still feel tired or sore on friday, but by saturday they should be good to go. so i would have thought i would have been a little more amped for saturday's race......

i think, at the time, my 'vagina' was just a little swollen. i had to go home and load up the car with bikes and gear for me and also for heather and the little one as well. a couple of relatives were staying with us as well and were coming out to watch me race so i had to pack refreshments for them so they wouldn't be to miserable watching a grown man act like a child. in hindsite, i think it was just a lot of this stuff that seemed to be taking some of my motivation to race. because that was it, i was really questioning or doubting wether i wanted to race on saturday or not. i knew i would have regretted not racing later that day. the weather was going to be perfect, and i knew i would be mentally ready to go once i was out there and warming up.

i also know.....with the addition to my family, i am goimg to have to deal with packing the car for both my child and me. really i am going to have to take the load off my wife just to keep her having fun and allowing me to continue to race by her taking care of brynn for the hour and a half i am on my bike while warming up and racing. having my cousin Audi at KU now adds a viable babysitter option when heather is unable to come out to the races due to her job.

so, with Heather, Brynn and my two cousins' Katie and Audi packed in the car, we were off to the cx race. once at the the park, we immediately pulled in while the masters race was going on. seeing my 360 teammates dominating the field really did nothing to raise my excitement level to race. the damn course seemed to be on the side of something that you would see in a picture of the 'Scottish friggin Highlands'. alright...... i am being a little melodramatic, but i was really having to force myself to 'get up' for this race. I needed some metallica or something to get me going.......

got dressed and got on the course and was able to get in a couple of practice loops before the start of the 4's race. i then proceeded to finish my warm-up on the road. opened the legs up with some 30 second and some 1 minute max efforts. legs really didn't feel that great. not bad, but not that good, either. knowing how competitive the 3' races have been this fall......i really felt like i was going to have a hard time getting into the top 8-10, hell i really didnt think i would be contending with the front group to be quite honest.

so i had somehow started to analyze how the start would be......i felt like i didnt need to make my same normal push for the 'holeshot'. i consistently put myself in the first 3 wheels at justy about every cx race. i truly feel that noone in our area that races in the 3/4's around here, starts as well and consistently as me. a may not be the fastest or the most fit, but i am consistent. consistent from week to week and at the starts. however, on saturday i began to realise that i needed to back it off a notch and not get into that 'redline' before the course starts to turn uphill. saturdays course had by far the longest starting pavement section that i have ever raced on. but once off the pavement and on to the grass, it was going to be an uphill grind for the next 3 or 4 minutes. this is where the selection would take place and i would need to be sitting in and conserving some energy before it did turn uphill.

so my strategy was set. thats the only thing i visualize or preplan, is the start of a cx race. the rest of the race is 'easy', it is just 'drilling it' and 'suffering' for as long as possible. hopefully you dont blow up and the guys near or around you dont last as long as you. every now and then you have a race that you actually get to work with and sit in with a competitor. getting to manage and control your effort thru the course of the 45-60 minutes of racing, however this is not usually the case.

with the 3/4's lined up and waiting for pre-race instructions....i had forgot about my 'swollen vagina' and my lack of motivation. i was 'ready to go', ready to get the race started. friggin' officials drive me nuts!

finally, the whistle sounded. just because i set a plan or strategy or visulize how i want the start to go......that doesn't mean it works out that way. however, saturdays start went darn near like i felt it needed to. there were a few 'pretenders' jockeying for the front at the start, the usual suspects were up near the front as well. by the time we neared the grass i had made very little effort and was about 8th wheel when the 3/4's entered the grass. we made our first hard 90 degree right and i realized i was racing. i began to realize that i needed to really pay attention to the wheels next to me and the the couple of guys up in front of me.......cuz they were already letting gaps form thru the first couple of technical high speed turns and were sure to take me down if one of them would lay it down. so as the course turned uphill i began to pass a couple of the 'pretenders' and work my way up to the next wheel. if i didnt like or respect that wheel i wouldn't stay thare for long. by the time the race turned down hill, i found myself about 6th or 7th wheel. i had passed 4 or 5 guys during the climb up and had a couple of guys pass me in the process. this is normal during the first lap or so of cx. its just the 'selection' process. as the course began to head sideways and east, a front group of 6 or 7 of us had formed. once we were to the stair section, the front group turned into 2 with 4 chasing and me in 'no mans' land. this is how it went as we hit the pavement. it was here at this point on the pavement that i made my first 'good' decision of the race. i didnt chase the group of 4 in front of me. i was maybe 20-25 meters back of them, but i felt i didnt need to waste the energy so early to get to them. i had cost myself a few seconds on that first lap in some of the 'high-speed' technical turns by riding to close behind inferior bike handlers and i had to scrub my speed. if there wern't 4 or 5 guys to pass at the time and had it been just 1 or 2, i would have made the effort to pass them thru those early turns. the reason for my decision was i felt like i would catch back on, they wern't going anywhere. i would eventually be faster than most of those guys in front of me thru the dow hill section of the course and would eventually pick them off. over the next couple of laps, the seletion process or the thinning out of the racers played out. a couple of guys would wreck, have a mechanical or just plain 'pop'. by the end of lap 3, i found myself next to garrick valverde of mesa cycles and chasing one of the epic guys. they look the same from behind. actually, both guys had passed me during the 2nd lap and gone up the road. the epic racer was actually with the front group of 3. briton kusiak of KCOI and alex edwards of mesa cycles had attacked mid first lap and got a gap of maybe 4-5 seconds on the next 4or 5 of us. the epic guy was with them briefly, i just assumed he couldn't match the pace. anyway, garrick had passed me on lap 2 and went up the road with maybe a 4-5 second gap on me. i once again didnt panic and rode my pace. i felt it was early. so by lap 3 i could see garrick was coming back to me and so was the epic guy. at some point during lap 2 one of the early leaders, jon giles of cycle city, wrecked out or burned out. i believe he blew his 'wad' by getting the 'holeshot' and going for the STUPID first lap prim. do you rally need a prim lap in cx??? when is it ever not 'balls to the wall' in cx??? so, one guy in front of me was now in my rear-view. i guess there were 2 epic racers in front of me early as well, cuz matt rolled a tire and had to pit. i noticed him bridging up to me as i was closing in on his teammate jason on lap 3 or 4. by lap 5 of 7, the battle of attrition had set in. alex and briton were battling for the win and me, and epic teammates matt and jason were together and racing behind them. by the 6th lap i realized we had actually closed down the gap of the 2 leaders. in hindsite, i wished the 3 of us behind the 2 leaders would have worked together. i think they were in reach. maybe only 20 to 25 seconds up on us. from lap 5 to 6 i think we took a big chunk out of the lead they had on us. oh well!.........we were racing for 3rd and i was realizing the fact that these 2 with me were taking turns on me. jason took a couple of digs on me with matt in between. i went around and stuck on jason's wheel only to have him attack a 3rd time. i wasnt able to respond and jason had a 10 meter gap before i had recovered enough to stop the bleeding. at the start of lap 6(2 laps to go) i soft pedaled on the pavement a took a hard dig once we hit the grass with the intent to shake matt off my wheel and not let both epic guys beat me. matt barely hung on. i took another dig when the course went uphill and made matt struggle to get back on. i figured if i could open a gap on the uphill, i could recover going downhill and still maintain the gap cuz i felt i was faster thru the technical turns coming up. i took maybe a 4 or 5 bike length gap going into the stairs and added a couple of more to it thru the 180's before the pavement. i dont know if i actually 'lit' it up on the pavement, but a did take another hard dig thru the start finish and by the time i got to the grass i had maybe a 6 second lead on matt. i really tried to hit it again on the uphill section of the course and not take any chances thru the turns. once i hit the downhill i felt matt breathing on me, but i had actually maintained if not added to the lead. i really tried to lite it up going downhill without taking any risks in the turns. i tried to remind myself that my 'conservative' was faster than his 'railing' it thru those turns. even with overcooking a hard 90 degree turn i was maintaining my gap on matt. i recovered and was able to talk myself thru the last few turns before the stairs. 2 180's before the pavement and some nervous energy and i got on top of as big a gear as possible before the pavement in case matt was charging. i think matt was cooked though, cuz he sat up realizing he wasnt gonna get me. the mechanical in the middle of the race had really put him behind the 8 ball. 'hats off' to him and great finish with having to go into the pit for a wheel change. i finished 4th and took the last 'payout' place for 20 bucks. i was about 10 seconds back from 3rd place jason knight of epic cycles who was in turn maybe 20-25 back of 1st and 2nd.

i actually feel better about my result on saturday than i do winning the Heartland Park CX race a month ago. the couple of pounds i lost over the last 2 weeks must have helped my climbing. hahaha!

a good result can show all the hard work and preparation for a racer is paying off. in my case, it has actually relieved some stress of wether i have made the right training decisions over the last couple of months as well and show me that i am on the right track for december 11th and 13th. actually want to thank (or owe)mark thomas for really coaching me and helping me to continually improve over the last couple years. thanks mark!!

U.S. Nationals is just 6 weeks away..........

'hats off' to cycle city and jeremy haynes for a super course and a great preview for next months 'nats'. we had a great turn out and some great racing in all categories. thanks joe fox and jeremy and all the others reponsible for Boss Cross 1.

see ya next race.

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