Monday, October 31, 2011

HPCX Race Report

I don't know why I got out of bed for this one. I knew the conditions were going to be bad but I was not prepared for this. For the first thing it was my first foray into the UCI Elite mens cx field and they are rediculously fast. It's fun racing the 1/2/3's locally but this is a totally different animal all together. I took off fine with the group and fumbled a bit in the conditions. I knew I'd settle in and work my way back through a couple of the close guys. Yea no chance... I hit the first down hill - literally - and blew out my front tubular. I didn't know it at the time since they flat very slowly so I rode further and wondered why I felt every rock and root and yup it was flat. I was sooooo freakin pissed at this. I refused to get off the bike and rode it the remainder of the opening 1/2 lap until I could get to the pit - it was a looooong way but it would be much better than running the entire way. I took a few seconds to get my pit bike and I should have just bagged it there. But as stupidity would have it - I kept going. I tried to start closing that gap that opened up to the man in front of me but my worn out Kommandos on my pit bike were no match for that mud. It was all the tubular tires or nothing...and I got nothing.

I tried to ride it out as long as I could before they would pull me and as I rounded a nice hard right turn 180 I fell off the bike and landed completely on my left side in a deep mud puddle. I got up disgusted and kept pedaling. Past the scorers table for lap 1 and they didn't pull me. I was upset and glad at the same time. At least I'd get to do two laps. So I kept on the second lap and muddled through the best I could running a lot of what wasn't really rideable at all. The conditions were horrid. One uphill was so bad I tried to muscle up it and with the power I was trying to put down(and the mud in between my chamois and my saddle)it forced me off the back of the bike and I landed on the back tire in not so good of a place. Twice. So on to lap two I passed the scorers table again and they didn't pull me. What the heck? I just wanted it to be over with. On the last lap I actually had some better lines going, but any effort at that point was futile. I saw the leaders coming up and just wanted it to be over with. Finally at the end of lap 3 they pulled me. Thank goodness.

Yup worst race ever. My first ever DFL and I got pulled. What an amazingly awful day. Thank goodness I like to race my mountain bike. If this was the only type of racing I do I'd probably hang it up for good after this one. I won't be racing in conditions like that again. It was just dumb. I'm so glad that I'll be cleaning those two bikes for the next week and trying to figure out my tire situation so I can race next Sunday. Sometimes I wonder why I do this and days like today remind me that sometimes I probably shouldn't...

Sunday, October 23, 2011

West Point CX Race Recap

Earlier in the week I was going to preregister for the race and I logged into Bikereg and found out that the race category I wanted to participate in disappeared. The race itself was still on but no Mens A 1/2/3 category. So I emailed the promoter and they said they cancelled the race as no one signed up. They had no idea that most of the A racers wait until the last minute to sign up. Anyway with some begging they decided to hold the race and I was much happier as I wanted the two hard efforts this weekend. So anyway the race was on and BL and I piled into the hamstermobile and headed up to see what this place was all about. As I waited for BL to arrive at my place I was texted by Weber that it was a mtb course and bring your skills. So with that I was excited and curious at the same point. I figured it was going to be just BL and myself and a few collegiate riders and more A racers showed up and less collegiates showed up.

On the line it was myself, BL, JP, Gavi, and two cadets to our right. So small field and small lap. Off we go and I wasn't sure if my legs would show up after my effort yesterday or not. I hit it hard and find myself getting the holeshot and BL following me followed by the rest following us :D Into a few chicanes I open up a gap on BL who was checking the grippyness of his tires and I just drilled it as the others were falling back. I was getting a gap and I just kept my head down. I didn't know how long it would take till Gavi got around me but I knew at some point he would, unless a leg fell off. So I lead the entire first lap and I hear Gavi sneaking up. Through one of the tight turns with Gavi on my wheel I decide to blow through a taped corner and luckily no tape gets caught but throws me off a bit and opening up a nice line for the rest that are following. BL said he liked the course change ;) 1/4 of the way through lap 2 there's a nice open road section and Gavi attacks. I figured he'd at least hang on me for a few laps and let me blow up but no - he was pedaling hard! So I tried to jump on him and respond but I could fully do it. I tried instead to keep him close through the tight twisty, mtb type sections.

Weber was right, it was a tough, tight course. Hard twisty rocky uphills followed by two sandpits followed by stupid tight lifesucking s-turns. So I kept Gavi close but he was steadily opening a gap. Lap by lap he was opening that gap further but not by as much as I thought he would. He got a little extra distance as I piled it up on a nice loose off camber turn(with the entire Kucharski family cheering me on as I fell), but I got up quickly and calmly got back into a rhythm. It seemed futile to close the gap but there were two dreaded sandpits that I hoped he would falter in - he didn't. Actually towards the end of the race he sat up to hopefully not lap one of the cadets and BL yelled to me the news and I closed down some of the gap but he saw me coming and kept on it lapping the cadet. I finished a minute or two behind Gavi and pretty satisfied with how the race went and especially that I felt good after a hard effort yesterday.

Cross is awesome! 2nd place of the 6 at the line and I got my race fee back! Wohoo! It seems that most of the Bulldogs had a really good day today. Gerilyn, Ted, Mike, Weber, BL, and myself were in attendance and it seemed to really cater to our good mtb skills. Great seeing everyone out there!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

CX season officially underway! Morris CX Recap

The race went pretty well today. My goal was to not get lapped by the big guys and beat someone - not really I just wanted to beat everyone but a few of those guys weren't going to let that happen. I wasn't sure how it would go as it was the first cx race of the season. Especially since I was on my personally glued tubular tires that I tried for the first time this past weekend. If the tires stayed on I would be happy. So 18 of us toed the line and they did call ups for those that did hillbilly so I found myself in the second row behind someone. Anyway we took off and the big guys took off harder of course. There was some shuffling as there was a lot of brake checking here and there but it got into a nice single file race pretty quickly. I felt ok and kept plugging along and seeing where I could make a more or not. I was waaaaay too patient to make a move. I should have been more aggressive so I just stayed in line. I was in the middle of the pack somewhere.

I saw a couple behind and a bunch ahead but I was focused on the man in front of me. It was Kyle at this point(2nd lap?3rd lap?) and I was closing on him and being patient to get around him at the right time. Just ahead of him was Foco so I was anxious to make the pass and get onto Rogers wheel. So into one of the hard 180's Kyle brakes too hard with the front wheel and it slides out and he goes down. I brake to avoid him and the same thing happens to me. He stalls me from getting around him and Dave Wilson shoots by. Dammit! so now we both recover and Kyle is behind me and Dave gets a good gap. CRAP! Dave is setting a good pace and gets through a few and I just keep it steady to let the race unfold. I start to concentrate on opening the gap on Kyle. It opens little by little and then I look up and see Alejandro in front of me(cue the Lady Gaga really - it popped into my head). So I start trying to close the gap on him and it was working. I made some mistakes here and there and the gap starts to close. Then with about 2 laps to go he takes off and opens the gap wide as he cuts through 3 or 4 that seem to be fading. Using that momentum I try to speed up as well and the next guy I see is Dave Wilson coming back to me. I put it down but there wasn't enough room to get him. One more lap and I would have had him most likely.

So all along while I'm tracking Dave down there were two guys fighting it out behind me and I kept a close eye on them to see where they were and if they would attack. They didn't but I see the black kit of Mike Yozell coming through the tow riders behind and coming up fast. He was on a mission. So now my mission was to stay ahead of him and try and get Dave at the last second if possible. Into the spiral of death I was closing on Dave and holding off Mike at the same time. With little to no runout after the finish line the race ended as it did going into the spiral. I couldn't get to Dave. He finished 10 seconds ahead of me while Mike finished about 10 seconds behind me. I was so happy to finish ahead of Mike as I thought he was the leader and I'd be holding him off so I didn't get lapped. He wasn't - he flatted somewhere in there and was chasing back on so I held him off for the better finish. I'll take it!

12th of 18 was where I ended up and that's fine for me as I'm starting to get back into the groove of racing in small circles again. What a great race - awesome field of 18 - and a great crowd around cheering us on while we tried not to vomit. I almost did at 38 minutes in. Average HR was 180 and I hit a max of 188 at some point. The new race format was nice as the A race wasn't the last part of the day with 5 people and no spectators. This makes it SOOOOO much more enjoyable. A much better vibe was felt all over the event. It was fun and I can't wait to do it again tomorrow at West Point. Should be fun. Good to see everyone out there!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Bagels and Bacon Short Track #2

Ok so I said MTB season was over but almost. This race was a cross type race on the MTB bikes. 40 minutes of an all out effort with a field of ~36 racers. It was good since it would tell me how my engine was going to handle this type of intensity. I knew through the rest of the season my endurance was good but going this hard for this short of a time period usually takes some time to get used to. It hurt.

I took off and was 2nd row on the start but made sure I got to the front early. I was sitting 4th into the first climb and then just stayed steady to see if anyone would come around. We were going hard enough that they couldn't. So I sat on 3rd place's wheel to see where he would make a mistake and where I could pass. Sure enough his pace slowed up so I was planning my pass and where the course split - one high line and one low line - he went low and I went high. I lit up the upper line as I knew I was more confident there and by the time the course came back together I had a couple second gap on him. So I just laid it down and patiently stretched the gap and started to work up to Monte. Maurice was killing it and in the lead by a decent margin so my battle was to get up to Monte and the race would unfold behind me(hopefully). So on I kept the pace and I started to close on Monte in lap #3. Up to the top of the 2nd part of the first climb I see him getting closer and closer. As I hit the garden - getting antsy knowing he's right there - I bobble and can't get clipped in. I hit the following downhill and rocky stream crossing not clipped in. CRAP! I was unsettled with not being clipped in so I had to be conservative and the gap reopened. My mistake.

I got back in the pedal and began search and destroy mode again. I hit every hill hard and looked for the remaining lap card. I thought we'd be doing 5 laps but then the cards suggested 6. So I knew just how to pace myself. I was hoping to regain sight of Mike but he was just out of range. I made up some time as my 5th and 6th lap got faster and faster but I wasn't close enough to challenge Mike at the end. I was in nowhere's-ville. Couldn't see ahead or behind so I let up a bit and cruised to the finish. 45 seconds away from Monte and 1:30 from Freddy who was chasing. Pretty decent gaps but not that great if there was the slightest error. Such a fun discipline. It was a fo real mtb course in a cx format. Pretty fun. 3rd place was the finish and I was happy with that. Hopefully this bodes well for my cx season that follows. Now it's really officially CX season :-)

Here's a great video recap of the event. Check it out! Great job filming and editing!

Wawayanda H2H #8 Recap

My race strategy was pretty simple. Try to not kill it off the line and ride consistently smooth through the rough stuff and see what time I could make up in there. I took off and sat comfortably in 5th of 11 through all of sitting bear and the white trail up to the lake. Just after the lake I was trying to manage killing all those nasty puddles and finding an line(if it existed)and I see John A sneaking up behind and I let him pass to use him as motivation to get back to the lead 4 ahead. This was good and bad. John had a good pace going but a couple of sections held him back and that held me back. Anyway through the S/F line I was 10 seconds back and I figured I'd make it up on the cross hike-a-bike into Little Bear. I did just that and used a lot of effort to hit the runup hard and remounted ahead of him. I stayed on it through Sitting Bear and felt like I rode it a little more solidly. John was still close behind so on the climb up to and through white I attacked. I dropped down by the lake and saw no sight of him the rest of the lap.

Into sitting bear on the 3rd lap I felt like I couldn't find the groove. Actually I never had the groove all day, it just was really bad on the 3rd lap. It felt more like I went to shift to a higher gear and I blew up my clutch. I really didn't feel like I was warmed up at all or could really get my heart rate up. All of the puddles seemed like a black hole to me. I misjudged everyone and they gave me something unexpected every time. I was getting really frustrated. At the end of sitting bear I could see Brian Kelly sneaking up and then I looked back and Matt Miller was through him and coming for me. Great. So Matt beat me to the fire road and into white. Now I wanted to stay on his wheel but I couldn't. I made too many mistakes. So as I drifted back on white Brian passed me. I knew I was fading so at this point I just kept on and tried to stop the bleeding. I rode from there on slipping all over and totally off my game.

Anticipating what the bike would do never happened from that point on. It was totally erratic. I think I hit every underwater obstacle that was out there. But into red somehow Matt was still in sight. So I said to myself that I'll close the gap a little and then on the last climb after the plank bridge I'll attack him and go for the pass. I never made it that far. In my attempt to close the gap after the red trails merged I took some lines in those nasty puddles that literally threw me off the trail. I hit one and launched right into the woods. I got back up to speed and the next one launched me left into the woods. Each time narrowly avoiding death by pine tree. It was ridiculous. In one of the puddles I had to put my feet down while still stradling the bike and my saddle slammed into my tail bone. It's over a week later and still REALLY sore. Probably bruised the hell out of it. I just wanted to keep it upright from there till the end so I kicked it back a notch since there was no one around me. I got up that final climb after the long plank bridge and looked back to see if I was clear and I see John A. right behind me with that "look"....crap. As soon as I saw him I put every ounce of juice I had left into blasting that downhill and making sure he couldn't pass me going into the finish. If he was getting past me, he would have to work hard to do it.

So I ended up in 7th of 11 starters and 2nd in the state. BL told me that it was awesome watching John and I sprint for 2nd place in the state and I had absolutely no clue that's what we were racing for. It was just that competitive edge that wanted to keep him behind me at all cost :-). I was a little disappointed since I think I could have had 5th. Matt was definitely in sight(got me by 7 secs dammit!) and if I did a couple things better I think I could have had Brian behind me. But that's the good 'ol "IF" game. So even though I didn't race that well it was fun to be out there riding circles in the slop. I'm ready for MTB season to end. Hello CX.