Sunday, January 3, 2010

'Crossin' Off the Old Year' with some frigid cold and white stuff

The pics seen here are courtesy of Roger of Lanterne Rouge Cycling. They were taken this past Thursday on the New Year's Eve 'Cross off the Old Year' race held at Stump Park in Shawnee, KS.

A shout out goes to Mark and Teresa of Local Cycling and all the others that help get the race off the ground this year. 8+ inches of snow and some lots of ice thrown in made getting a course set up extremely difficult for the promoter and designer Mark Thomas. Thanks Mark. Thursday morning saw temps in the single digits and with very little improvement in sight. So getting motivated to get going and get out to the course would prove to be the biggest challenge of the day for me. I find that once i get out to the course and get some kind of warm up in, then i am 'good to go' and ready to race. That proved to be the case on thursday morning. My wife was coming off a 12 hour nite shift at the hospital so getting out to the race 2 hours early proved to be impossible. With race time at 1 pm, i was able to pull into the parking lot of stump park at around 11:40 or so. But, lately with the cold weather and my inability to get to the course as early as I would like, I have been dressed and 'pinned' with race # at home prior to driving to the race. Saves me about 30 minutes of prep time and allows me to make changes in layering on the really cold days as needed. I hate scrambling and hurrying prior to race time. The thing that suffers the most when that happens is my warm-up gets shortened or just plain non-existent. And with the bitter cold conditions, its tough mentally to get a good warm-up in anyway.

I was able to get a good warm-up in on the course before race time. The 1 pm races were the first ones of the day. Late starts and shortened races to hopefully make it atractive to racers to skip out of work early and compete in epic 'cx' conditions on New Years' Eve. Thursdays' course consisted of a course which 95 % of was covered in snow and/or ice. The course was shortened due to lots of ice on a long pavement section. So the race track consisted of a narrow paved start/finish area which led to 2 soggy off-camber sections tied together into a short & slick but grinding climb that led the racers to a icey rutted fairly fast and long downhill section that had a lot of racers on edge. Most didnt feel comfortable letting go of the brakes and just bombing on this scetchy downhill. The downhill led into a slow grinding soft snow section which the racer had to work hard to maintain any of the momentum he/she just built up from the downhill.

From this flat slow section the racers turn right down into a little ravine that had hay bales laid out as our only barrier on the course. Running back out of the ditch the racers were back on their bikes trying to get back up to speed thru a ice rutted slow section which headed back towards the start area and the wheel pit. The racers headed back away from the wheel pit and navigated around a softball field on a soft and slowly melting but snow and rut covered section. on the oppisite side of the softball fields the racers had a decision to make as to run or try to ride a iced and rutted out 500 meters section of covered pavement. this section was basically a swection of landmines of covered soft snow holes, slick ice hidden under a couple of inches of snow and a very narrow line that the racer had to navigate thru all of these holes and slick little areas. I of course tried to ride it every time and thru 5 laps of racing I only rode this section cleanly once, and even that '1' time is debatable. I continually had little foot dabs or 'almost' wipe-out mistakes thru this section. It didnt cost anymore than the guys behind me, but it allowed the 2nd place racer, Jeff Unruh who ran it every time, to maintain or put time on me. His decision to run it allowed him to be more consistent then me and my choice to try to ride it everytime. This tricky section was last section which led the racers back thru the start/finish area.

The Master's 'A' 40+ raced for 30 minutes which turned out to be 5 painful laps. A decent start had me 5th wheel going into the snow covered grass and off-camber section. Matt Eastlack and I avoided running into and over John Pahlman who was 3rd wheel at the time of his wipe-out on the slick off camber grass. From there matt and I passed Steve Songer who had 'endo'd and dropped a chain at a muddy ditch crossing. Steve also dropped a chain which cost him tons of time.
So from early in lap one thru the last of lap five, I was yo-yoing off of Jeff Unruh wheel. On lap four I made a huge effort and attacked him on the downhill. I got by him and began to pass a lapped rider when i caught an icey rut at about 25 mph. Fortunately me and my bike went flying together so i didn't have far to go to get my bike and get going again.....I gained contact with jeff late in lap 4 only to see him attack me at the start of the bell lap. Regained his wheel on the downhill but could never find the strength to do anything other than sit on his wheel. Once we hit the last icy straight away, he had more power than me. So Studnicki Finished first, Jeff 2nd and myself 3rd. Songer made a valient effort after his mechanical issues and finished 4th.
The importance of the 2 guys in front of me are they are my new teammates for 2010. I am rejoining SlimenUndGrossen racing after the last couple with 360Racing. Gonna be a fun year I think. My new teammates are really old teammates because I started riding and racing with these guys about 5 or 6 years ago.

2 races races to go before we shut the doors on the 2009/10 cross campaign. 2009 saw me win
the Boss Cross Master's 35+ 'A' category, which means I will be racing for free in that series again next season. I won the Cat 3 Boss Cross series last year and raced for free in this years series. That free entry helps alot. The last 2 races of the year are apart of the Series60 cross series. The standings for that series are locked up as far as the top 2 spots. Mark Studnicki has got a commanding lead over 360 racer Steve Songer. I am currently in 4th, 10 or so points behind 360 rider Andy Lucas. The only way I will catch Andy is if he doesnt race one of the last 2 races. He in fact raced the elite race on Thursday, which allowed me to gain valuable points on him anyway. So hopefully I can finish strong over the next couple of weeks with a couple of more podiums and finish 3rd or 4th in the overall in the Series60 competition. Hopefull these last couple of races will have some more snow and ice and just all around 'fun' conditions.

See yah at the races!

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