Monday, 17 October 2011
The Elites took the corner out of the tower runup psychotically fast. I couldn't believe this guy kept it upright. As I was lying on the ground directly in the path, that made me very happy.
Granogue Masters 1-2-3-4 was about as hard of a race as I’ve ever done on the road or mountain biking. It was fast, the course is challenging with few spots for recovery, and I made a few unforced errors. Nothing like jumping into the deep end of the pool for your second cross race. WTF?
At the start I was pretty inspired by what I’d just seen, so decided to hold back in the melee that was going to be about 100 riders (although the results on site showed far far fewer than that - they called up every number, and at #86 on the grid I was in good position to see just exactly how many people were there) storming through the paved section prior to the finish line, and then go pretty well balls out until I finished or fell down dead.
The first two laps were okay, with my “in process” skills at getting on and off the bike tested by being in such close proximity to so many other dudes. Tons of shoulder contact with other riders, more than in any race I’ve done - road, mountain or cross. Good and bad moments, but the general trend was upward, passing people. The only turn I sucked at was the one at the top of the course, around the tower. That one usually got me, the rest were actually pretty good for me.
Usually I like to take SportLegs before a race, and yesterday I forgot. I think they help, but I’m not sure. I also like to use breathe right strips since my sinuses pretty much gurgle and try to suffocate me when I’m riding. Forgot to do both of those yesterday. I also had my second ever (apart from flats) mechanical yesterday when I inadvertently readjusted my seat’s tilt (for much much much the worse) when I landed too far aft on it on a remount. A saddle with the nose tilted skyward is far from ideal in a cross race, as most of my day was spent trying to avoid a test ride of Mr. Garrison’s personal transport machine. The old SLR seemed to develop a serious crush on me, and it's aggressive when it’s in heat like that. Of course it’s bi-polar, as when it’s not trying to penetrate you and you are just trying to have a somewhat normal cuddling session with the thing, it has no interest and is trying to dump you onto your rear wheel. I didn’t prefer this.
So I dropped a bunch of places when this happened, and then heard a noise I didn’t much like - “4 to go.” WTF? I was on my third lap. Seven laps of that shit? Seven laps?!?!? On course unforced error #2, my joie de vivre and generally buoyant mien took a severe turn upon hearing that. I had no interest in fending off the amorous advances of my saddle, hereinafter referred to as Pepe Le Pew, for four more laps. My quads and back were getting the shit kicked out of them through the whole not having a saddle thing. Excuses, everyone’s get them. The good thing was that I didn’t bail, which at one point I thought I might.
Anyhow, some guys would really crack hard and I’d pass them, but generally I was slowly letting guys go by one by one. I’d guess that at one point I was riding in 40th, which I’d have been ecstatic with as a finish, on that course in that field in my second ever cx race, starting from 86th. Ecstasy was not to be.
My last lap (I got lapped just before the pit on the leader’s final lap, so I only had to do 6 of the 7) had my best moment, although you wouldn’t think it was a “best” moment. I haven’t wiped out yet, and in fact while practicing cornering on Thursday evening I was chiding myself “why don’t you fall over every once in a while?” So through my least favorite turn around the tower, Paul lapped me. Inspired to stay with him, I regained momentum and started the chase. The next turn is a left hand sweeping off camber that tightens up on itself as you go. A hard turn, but one which could be taken with good pace if the pace was matched with skill. I had a great line and was hauling ass, catching right up to Paul. Unfortunately my ass was also sliding off the seat and into my rear tire, so it wasn’t a huge surprise that I low sided it with a big old thud. That summed it up pretty well, but I was actually wicked psyched to biff it, just not being a total puss for once.
There’s a laundry list of shit that I need to get better at if I’m ever going to crawl from the gutter at cross, summarize it by saying “pretty much everything needs to improve.” The big benefits were that I rode a race that required me to go outside of my comfort zone in terms of speed and proximity for the first several laps, and then outside of my comfort zone in terms of being shot for the last couple of laps, most of it while dealing with a pretty seriously effed up seating situation. That ought to make next week’s B masters race seem like a cake walk. Actually not but I’ll tell myself that’s the case.
I had to be at work at 2am this morning so we couldn’t stay too late, but we saw the UCI Women’s race and the first few laps of the UCI Men’s race. Women, fast. Dudes, holy effing shit. It’s like a herd of buffalo, the SOUND of that race is going to stay with me for a long time. And they wipe the hell out, often. First lap a guy overcooked the turn out of the downhill after the tower runup and slid through a stake, nearly taking out like 12 people. No big deal. Those guys have big brass ones to go the way they do. Mad respect. Just holy shit.
Apparently Mike and I are pretty good at picking frames. Paul loves his, got a sick result (6th in Masters) in a crazy talented field, first race on the bike. There was another excellent result achieved by a teammate earlier in the day, so the bikes aren’t slowing anyone down. There was another really funny thing that we found out about the bike but discretion is the better part of valor. Let me just say that paint can be expensive indeed.
Next up DCCX.