Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The 2009 Cross Season is a Wrap......

I got some pics of Saturdays Epic Cx Race. Jacob Pitt...putting it to the 'old' guys!

The last pics are of my Element towing my friends 4-wheeler. I have towed 1900 lbs of concrete with that car as well.

A Big Exhale..................The 2009 cyclocross season went a week longer than the previous year and even started a week earlier as well. That being said, i think i had 2 or 3 more races left in the legs and brain. Oh well. I am still looking to unwind a bit. Mentally, almost 4 months of staying motivated and on top of the racing and recovering properly wears on you. I think figuring that out this year and with the previous 3 or 4 years of cx helped me to finish with some strong results this year during the last few weeks of racing.

This past Saturdays' race was located up north of Kansas City in Parkville, MO. the course was again set up on the property where the sponsor, Epic Bike Shop is located.
I spent Tuesday and Wednesday before the race working to get the course prepped and rideable to race on Saturday. The greenspace where the course was to be set up was actually under almost a foot of snow with 2 and 3 foot drifts as of Tuesday. Friend and Slimen teammate Joe Houston and I headed up to Parkville Tuesday morning to see if we could help promoter Mark Thomas. I was actually able to borrow a 4-wheeler with a snow blade from a friend...Thanks Jeff!! The thought was, with the ATV, that the time to clear the snow from the course would
only take a couple of hours. Were we way off. about 7 hours of shoveling be 3 or 4 of us as well as the use of the atv, and still we had work to do with ice removal from paved areas of the course on race morning. Thanks Roger! So a couple of hours on Tuesday and again on Wednesday afternoon with the ATV and some warmer temps on wednesday and Thursday started to turn our race course into a swamp......maybe we shouldnt have removed so much snow??

We had to, we couldnt count on so much snow melt. By Friday morning though, the temps had stalled at about 29-32 degrees with overcast foggy conditions. Late Thursday nite and Friday morning the temps had dropped to the low 20's and refrozen our course back up. This kept the course somewhat firm and icy in most places, with a little half frozen standing water in a couple of places on Friday around noon. The forecast for raceday was more of the same. Freezing temps overnite and overcast foggy conditions thru till early afternoon. So we were hoping for a mostly frozen course instead of a 6 inch deap ice cold swamp to race on.
I arrived at the race parking lot at around 9:45 am with my race starting at 11am. plenty of time to get dressed properly and get a good warm-up. With both bikes dialed and ready to go, i got out on the course to pre-ride and warm-up a little. I found the conditions of the course a little sloppier than the previous day but still not thawed out. Some scetchy icy spots with some muddy soft spots mixed in with some snowy areas. The sand vollyball court still was fairly firm due to the cold so these 2 sections were still rideable. I am sure the whole course would ride and change completely over the course of 45 minutes of racers riding warm-ups and another 45 minutes of racing on it. By the end of the day, the last couple of races, racers would be in a virtual mudpit. I was glad to be racing first. The faster and icy the more fun i would have and the better chance off a good result as well.

So with the call-ups at 10 minutes before race time, I was on the front row. I was 4th in the overall and really no shot of catching 2nd and 3rd. I needed a miracle with both Andy Lucas and Steve Songer not finishing the race. I had no points in an early race in the series due to sandbagging and racing and winning the 3's race at the first race of the year. I however had 4th locked up with noone being able to catch me as long as i finished. 14 racers lined up for the Master's 40+ 'A' race. Not a great turn-out, but expected due to a long cx season and the not so great weather. Also, i honestly question the 'man-hood' of a lot of our regions cyclists who say they race.....WHATEVER....... thats a different topic for a different day. Not all are 'man' enough or tough enough to race cx in January here in the midwest. I guess the 'roadies' need their rest and have to get in their 'bases' so they can be 'peaking' for the 'all important' Spring-Flings in Lawrence here in a month or so. Those guys really find that the March racing is essential to a 'great' season on the Road..........whatever....enjoy your rest, Pussies!

So roll call and callups are done. Officials give their speal and within seconds, they blow the whistle. I get a good start, and am side by side with Studnicki, sitting just behind Lucas(who got his usual 2 plus second head-start). Before we get to the hard laeft that takes us to the pavement, I yield to Mark and tell him to get on Lucas' wheel. I didnt need to throw elbows witha friend and a guy who is stronger than me, and i didnt want to be responsible fro taking either one of us out. I would settle for 3rd wheel behind the 2 leaders gladly. Once on the pavement, Songer and Houston came barreling by me. I was a little cautious on the pavement, i just felt like at anytime, any of us could lay it down on the slick asphalt. So no need to push it too hard until we got to the grass again. Thats when i realized I could have a problem, cuz the next section was soft and slow due to the mud and water. Joe was already bogging down a little and struggling to maintain the front 3's wheels. Fortunately, joe laid it down in front of me and i was able to avoid him and a few turns later i was back on the 360 + Studnicki train. It took just a few turns and the 4 of us had a significant and permanent gap over the rest of the 40+ racers. Now I just had to race my race and keep it upright......half way thru Lap one, It was Lucas, Studnicki, Songer and me in that order. I was actually comfortable and not over doing it. The course conditions were such that the 3 strong guys couldnt put the hammer down due to the icw and snow. Yes, ice and snow are my friends. With the 4 of us heading thru a soupy slow section and towards the 500 meter pavement section, Andy and Mark get a little gap on me and Steve. Steve has difficulty clearing a tough section that i ride cleanly. I am first to the pavement but was slowwed a little by steve. Andy and Mark are probably 5 seconds up the road. At this time, Andy is getting ready to enter into a snowy switchback section but catches a patch of ice on the pavement, and goes down hard. Mark narrowly misses bashing into Andy and his bike. Songer is now back on my wheel as we roll by Andy who is trying to get back on his back. Its now Mark all alone with maybe a 6-8 second gap on me and Steve. For the next 2 laps, Steve and I take turns gapping each other or just riding on the others wheel. Mostly though, its me sitting on Steve's wheel. I am riding comfortably and smoothly at this point. On maybe lap 3 thru the first sand section and making a right turn, Songer and I are trying to pass a lapped rider. Steve catches a rut and goes down. I bang right into the back of his bike and half fall off of mine. I am back up and going fairly quickly, but Steve is slow to get going. Steve is trying to get is rear wheel to roll seeing as how I crashed hard into it. Oh well, I empathize, but that is racing. Steve had mechanical issues of some sort the last 3 races of the year. I had the majority of mine early and often during the season. So for the next 4 or 5 laps and the remainder of the race, it was just trying to hold off the 360 duo of Andy and Steve. It was nerve wracking having those fast guys chasing me down, but i rode pretty smartly. A couple of bobbles on the last couple of laps, but nothing more than anybody else behind me. Steve at one point got to within maybe 10 seconds of me, but he went down at some point trying to be aggressive and close the gap down. I actually managed to finish within maybe 35 to 45 seconds of Mark in the end, but I know he was just managing his effort on not really drilling it. But it was still second place for me, and I had beaten both Andy and Steve of 360racing. those 2 SOB's are fast. Until a couple of weeks ago, I had never beaten Steve and it had been a couple of seasons since i caught Andy on an 'off' day and beat him. On Saturday i finished in front of both of them. This is significant for me, because I am always measuring myself with these guys. I dont have their horsepower or fitness, but on the right course and me racing within myself I held my own with them. And that sums up the last 3 weeks of racing for me. Smart, comsistent racing during the last 3 races got me 3 good results and allowed me to beat some fast dudes. From my current Slimen teammate Jeff Unruh to my former 360 teammates, racing wheel to wheel with those guys and coming out on top from time to time is what keeps me motivated for cx. I love racing against guys i respect and that i am friends with off the bike.

Knowing Andy, I am sure he is pissed and will be gunning to drop my ass at the next mtb race or the next cx race we line up together. But fortunately for me, there is a good chance we wont be racing in the same age group:) Or maybe we will. so I will be ready for Andy to drill it off the start line, and i am sure I will be hanging on for dear life......but hell, thats half the fun of cx, getting your ass handed to you by the 'fast' guys. That's what makes you faster!

so all of you cx posers.....remember that! Good Luck at the Spring Flings! the 'real men' and 'tough guys' will probably be racing our mtb's.

Next cx race....09/18/10................just around the corner

1 comment:

r5 said...

Looks like ones yall got called out!