Sunday, November 13, 2011

Gran Prix HPT

A pic from the Boulevard Cup

Another CX race has come and gone. The weather was good...again...Although, Mother Nature did finally allow the water to flow. That was early this past week, so again, the racing was in "good conditions" albeit a little soft here and there.

The week leading up to this race I didn't get as much saddle time as I would have liked, so I was a little worried about how I was gonna ride. Oh well...I know you get out what you put in and I wasn't going to complain about getting my ass handed to me...I decided to give it my best and see what happened. That's all I can do.

I get to Heartland Park with plenty of time to get signed up and give the course a proper inspection. One of the best parts of this particular track was the use of a dirt track, which was dry but really soft during my inspection. I tried a few different lines and came to the realization that the established race line will be the way to go. The race line on the dirt track got faster and faster as the night wore on. There was also a couple sets of stairs in place of traditional CX barriers. A few short power climbs to keep everyone honest. I thought it was a good track.

Fast forward to the race...I get to the start line early so I can line up in the front. As it turns out, I didn't need to worry about it, due to the points I earned in the series last weekend, I was called up to the front row...that was nice.

GO!! I get a decent start and we drag race along a gravel road for about an 1/8th mile into the first turn. At this point I'm in 5th. We wind our way around to the dirt track and the pace goes to warp speed. A small gap opened in front of me that I managed to close before a left hand downhill off camber sweeper. At this point I was eating a ton of roost...I was totally not expecting to eat roost in a CX race...I've never even eaten roost in a MTB race!!! This caught me off guard to say the least.

We are winding our way around to the infield of the dirt track and 2 guys make moves from the back to the front group. At this point I'm in 8th...I think...

Anyway, the front group starts riding away leaving me in no mans land for the next 2 laps. Towards the end of lap 2 in no mans land, I take a quick look back and the 2 guys I raced with last week are chasing hard. I get to the steps with about a 5 second gap, which was quickly gobbled up when I make a mistake in a slow uphill switchback...oh well, I needed a break anyway.

So now it's Jeff from slimenundgrossen, Roger from Lawrence, and me. We stay this way until the last part of the dirt track which led out to the rest of the course. Jeff pulls over and Roger and I pull through. We race our way around to the power climb and I hear Jeff say "I'm in the wrong gear"!! A gap was opened, Roger was on the front driving it. Jeff never closed the gap, so now it's Roger and me. We roll through the start/finish in that order and I think there was 3 to go at this point.

I follow Roger around to the dirt track. I'm feeling pretty good again and decide to attack Roger to give a solo run to the line a go. I go blasting by him on the first straight of the dirt track, I get a small gap. At this point I am haulin the mail!!! I set myself up for the left hand downhill off camber turn, I realize that I'm going too fast for a feet up turn, I stick my left leg out and lean in. This helps the shoulder knobs bite really well, which they did!! I guess I got the tire pressure right for the track, because I railed around this turn with a hint of a 2 wheel drift without sliding out. This move alone doubled the gap I had, I nail the pedal coming out of the turn and drill it again to the infield section.

At this point I'm still feeling good and riding well. At times, Roger closes the gap a little, but in other parts of the track I would take that time back. He got close but never close enough for me to really worry. I give Roger props for keeping me honest. He NEVER stopped chasing, until it was out of reach...which was on the last section leading to the start/finish. He was about 30 yards behind when I turned onto the start/finish straight, I pedal hard a few times give a quick look back and realize I can finally rest...I cruise across the line in 8th.

I'm pretty happy with that result considering I might have gotten 2 hours of saddle time last week. There's at least one more race for me to do...maybe 2...we will see after that. I'm thinkin it's time for a break this week though. I'm ready for it!!


Monday, November 7, 2011

360/Boulevard Cup

This past weekend was the 360/Boulevard Cup CX. These 2 races are some of the best events to attend ever!!!

About 1 1/2 months ago I needed to find a goal so I wouldn't turn into a slob and stop riding altogether. What did I find? This 2 day CX weekend.

When I started "training" for this weekend my fitness was...hmmm...not even just okay...but forge ahead I did. I raced and did my training rides like a man on a mission. With the exception of one, I have toed the line every weekend since the beginning of October with the sole purpose of having a good weekend of racing at the 360/Blvd event.


The week leading up to these races wasn't the week I wanted to have. The weather didn't cooperate, and my MTB was having issues...I did man up and ride the trainer, probably not as much as I should have...oh well...I was "tapering" for the weekend.

Saturday comes and I roll to the venue feeling good, and ready to do battle again. I get registered, change into the riding clothes, which was almost everything I own to stay was 45 degrees and the wind was howling...IT WAS SUCKIN BAD!!!

I do my inspection of the course, and the one feature that had me a little worried was a long uphill grind, I shrug it off and roll on with my warm up. Finally, the time to race comes.

I have learned my lesson when it comes to lining up. I was there with plenty of time to get a primo spot on the outside of the front row. Anyway, the gun goes off and away we go. I got a decent start and was immediately on the limit, but not feeling to bad yet. We wind our way towards the long climb and when we hit that I knew it was not going to be a good day...

The race progresses and I find a good rhythm...there was a few highlights but mostly just suffering and not having the ride I wanted to have...

I crossed the line in 21st out of 31. I wasn't too bent by my result at the time, but when I got home and reflected on my race, I got based on that performance, I said F**K IT...I'm not racing on Sunday.

The Boulevard race...

So I wake up on Sunday, and start my morning ritual, pour myself a French Press and start thinking about racing. At 8:00 I'm mad as hell and want redemption for my waaaaaay less than stellar performance on Saturday.


I decided to level the playing for this race and borrow a CX machine from the great Bertonio Swiftinelli. I was feeling mean and I needed to take my aggressions out on the CX track and my fellow competitors. I pack my gear bag, take my pedals and cage off my MTB and head to Bertonio's house to pick up my ride for the day.

I arrive at the venue with plenty of time to sign up and do a proper inspection. Ready to ride now, I make a few adjustments to the bike and roll out to get a feel for the bike and check the course.

After about 100 yards of riding, I make a right turn behind the ball field and drill it...I knew at that point I was gonna have a good day. As I said before, I learned my lesson for the call up. I was the first to toe the line and stood there by myself for about 5 was great!!!

GO!! We're off, I get a good start inside the top ten, and not suffering at all. We get to the first twisty section and the guys ahead of me stay upright and life is good, because the farther back in the group you were at this point, the bigger the bottle neck and the longer it took to get up to speed.

Racing along on a ridge the rider ahead of me bobbles and I pass him only to have the front end slide out from under me...I was up quickly and only one racer got by. At this point the leaders are gone and I have no idea what place I'm in and didn't really care at this point anyway.

About the 3rd lap, the guy I was racing with are joined by one more. The chess game has begun. For the next 2 or 3 laps we take turns beating on each other riding in no mans land. Eventually a 50+ rider comes up to us, he manages to get to the front of my little group and starts driving it. I'm sitting 4th wheel at this point and we are on one of the faster sections of the track. I look over 3rd wheels shoulder and see a gap open. I knew this was a good move to go with, I make a move to the right and 3rd wheel drifts over and closes the door...a good size gap of about 40 feet opens...I yell at 3rd wheel to go!! He speeds up and the gap stops growing.

The 3 man chess match has begun.

We get to the backside of the ball field and I hammer past 3rd wheel to close within 10 feet. I'm content with this because we are coming to the sand pit and I didn't want to be on his wheel in case he buried himself in the sand.

I hit the pit, get swapped off my line and more or less come to a stop...all the work I just did was gone. I got going again and couldn't close the in no mans land, there's 2 laps to go.

I put in 2 great laps and manage to keep the guy I rode around at a good distance...until I came to the sand again. I was thinking just get through the sand without stopping and it's over. Of course I get swapped off my line again...that's what I get for thinking!!! DON'T THINK, JUST PEDAL!!!

A few turns later he is on my wheel again, I turn and say to him, that was a gift...he says I'll take it!! At this point we have one long section around ball field number 2, and of course I let him come around me for this part. This leads to a left/right switch back, then on to a concrete path which led us to the final stretch of grass with the finish line.

I set up the switch backs perfectly and was on the gas before he was. He drills it and I'm in the drops drafting. We hit the grass to the finish line, I look over his shoulder and sprint past him to nail down 5th out of 26.

It wasn't a win, but it felt really good. Especially considering the ass kickin I received the day before. I guess the training worked, the timing was off by a day or two I think, but one good day at the races is better than NO good days at the races!! I think the bike had a lot to do with the result, but I felt really good also and I am totally stoked with the results of my efforts!!