Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Racing with the Big Dawgs...

With my series win locked up in the Cat 1 30-39 H2H series this year, I made my decision with what to do with the last MTB race of the season. I'm going to test the waters in the Pro/Cat1 division. I figure next year I'll be doing some of the Pro/Cat1 races so why not get my feet wet now and see how it goes.

4 laps at Ringwood is going to be an interesting task for sure. 4 times up those switchbacks and in through the techy final trail will make life difficult but I'm up to the challenge. I'm ready to tackle this one and then retire my MTB for the season and go full time on the cyclocross bike. I can't wait for both.

Then the next step is to decide what to do next year. Do I compete in the Pro/Cat1 series H2H races, the NUE 100 miler series, or the MASS Endurance series. I'm thinking some combination of all of those actually. It will depend a bit too based on if I get my upgrade or not. If not I will be chasing some early races to officially get that upgrade.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Decisions Decisions...

Thanks to my solid race season thus far in 2010 I've been presented with an interesting opportunity. As it sits right now I've been fortunate enough to lock up the local H2H race series for the win with 7 of the 8 races completed. This gives the great opportunity of what to do for the last race. Let's see.

The options are:

Sit it out and enjoy the series win...yea like I have the will power to do that.

Race my category and go for the win to cap off a great season - that would be nice.

Race Cat1 SS and break out the rigid singlespeed for some action - not that much fun on the Ringwood race course as there's a lot of sections to get spun out.


Race the Pro/Cat1 race...

I've really been hoping at some point to get my pro upgrade but never thought it could actually be this season that it happens. As it sits I had two wins this season, one being an AMBC race, three second places, and all of those placings were top 3 or better overall in all of Cat1. This combined with the overall win of the H2H race series this year could be enough to qualify me for the pro upgrade. Maybe if I just wish hard enough it may happen. Once the race series results are official I will submit my upgrade request and cross my fingers and hope the cycling gods agree.

So with this realization that a pro upgrade could be on my doorstep I'm thinking I should lean towards the Pro/Cat1 race for the Ringwood weekend. It would be a great learning experience at hitting 4 laps hard and be a good test to see just where I would end up on a fast course with the big guys. I'll prepare myself to get thoroughly thrashed but I think it'll be fun regardless. Just to line up next to the regulars in the Pro field would be an honor.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jungle Habitat State Championship Race

Today was a great opportunity for some power to be laid down and a race with a lot at stake. Beside being another of the 8 H2H races, it was also the State Championship and a key race in the overall series. As I was waking up and making breakfast this morning I peered out the window to see what a magnificent day it was. It was truly nice out - almost a little warm at race time.

So as we roll to the line 17 of us were there to contest the State Championship title and one one would do it. As the gun went off I hit it hard and was wondering how my legs would respond as they were a little stagnant in my warmup but that was never an indication that worried me. I hit it hard and jumped immediately into 2nd. Through the first lap a lead group of 4 or 5 quickly snapped off the front. I was in 2nd then 3rd, then 4th, then 3rd. As lap two started, my teammate Brian in front of me was unfortunaately having cleat issues and had to pull over. So now I was in 2nd. At some point during that lap I passed another teammate not in my category and just as I did I showed him how to endo and cut myself up. I did this all without unclipping and unclipped, ran, and just kept on it. I blew through a few more turns unexpectedly as the rocks were just throwing off my line but by the end of lap 2 I knew what the game was. Catch Foco...

So at the start of lap 3 I could see Roger who was in 1st place now just ahead on the twisty section but I knew he had a minute gap already. Time to put it down and gap up to him. I hit every section hard and was on the verge of that crampy feeling. I ignored it and pressed harder. I did fumble a bit on Animal Chute and had to run a corner and then decided to nut myself with my stem all in one motion so that took the wind out of my sails for a second. But I recovered well and pressed on to keep the gap I had and keep the gap down in front of me. Part of me was hoping Roger would fade or have a mechanical but not so. He just rode steady and strong and faster than me.

I came around the last corner all alone and stood and crossed the line in 2nd. I didn't know by how much or how little but the look at the results later told me. Just under 3 minutes behind Roger and then 2+ minutes back to 3rd place. A really solid finish and one that also gave me 2nd place in the State Championship - the top 3 finishers were all from NJ - and even better it gave me the overall win for the series. What a nice feeling. With one more race to go it's all locked up already.

I've done 4 races now since I've been back from my blood clot and although I've had fun and done pretty well I don't think I've had that killer mindset on the third lap. Today was definitely different. My mind was in kill mode from the start. It wasn't on moderating, or being careful it was locked in on how many corpses I could create. It was nice to be back and really ride well - besides the endo. So I'm totally satisfied with the outcome and really amazed that I bounced back to well to win the series.

The only question now is what to do with the Ringwood weekend. Race my usual cat and try to win the last one or is it time to try the Pro/Cat1 race... Decisions...decisions...

Monday, September 13, 2010

Blue Mountain Chainstretcher Race Report

With fingers crossed and mud fender in hand, I rolled up to Blue Mountain to take on the Chainstretcher course. It was a wonderfully techy course that was surely an advantage to bike handlers. I got in a good warmup knowing that it was going to be a long race and knowing the lines was going to be key.

As the race went off I was in a nice group of 5 that had broken away from the rest of the pack. I sat comfortably in 3rd for the first lap and with a few efforts got into 2nd. Then back to 3rd and repeat. During the 2nd lap I was in 2nd with a little gap but 3rd and 4th were close behind. Too close. Me and the two others started lap 3 together and it was going to be interesting how it went. As the rocks and roots beat on I just lost a little bit of steam with the lack of feed spots and hydration and couldn't keep the pace. I let the two go and tried to gain the time back to pass but it just wasn't there.

I crossed the line in 4th for a good finish with 18 starters but my mind was partially on the secondary race at hand. The overall race for the H2H series championship. My goal for today was to do the best I could and hopefully keep John Arias and Steve Mancuso behind me. They are #2 and #3 in the series so I wanted to keep them at bay. And I did just that. I finished one place ahead of John but 5+ minutes ahead and Steve unfortunately had to DNF. That may have been the reason I didn't chase as hard when the two others got through. With the 4th place finish I extended my lead to 136 points. If all goes well I will be able to wrap up the overall championship next week at the State Championship race at Jungle Habitat. If I have a solid day the series is over. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for sure!

In hindsight the race would have gone better with a few changes. First and foremost eating and hydrating normally. It was just a rough course with too few opportunities to do so. Secondly I made some poor choices on the course which cost me time and I need to be smarter next time. Also it doesn't help when your garmin GPS launches off the handlebar into the leaves and you have to stop at fullspeed and find it. That hurt a bit. That was probably the 21 seconds I needed to get 2nd. All notes for next time. Experience is key...