Archive for October, 2005

This race had lots of climbing — about 120 feet of elevation gain per lap. There were some trail sections where passing would be more difficult. There was one set of triple barriers, one log across the trail, one set of steps (think Euro cross steps), and one big-arsed root I elected to run. As Terry mentioned, there were some really bumpy meadow sections. I am on the gravitationally challenged side so I wasn’t expecting a stellar performance.

I staged early and could have gotten a front row spot. Since the start went right up the long climb, I elected for a second row spot behind Team-O members Terry (kajukembo)and Ken Benderly. I didn’t want to get in the way of the guys I expected to contend for the win. My teammate Bill Goritski lined up next to me. I mentioned to him that I always get pre-race jitters and wonder what I’m doing lining up to race. I also brought up the fact that many times right in the middle of a race I feel like dropping out. Bill admitted to having some of the same thoughts. For both of us, the post race elation keeps us lining up each week.

Finally we are off and I pace myself up the climb and about half the field passes me. Then I pass most of them by the end of the second lap. There are about a half-dozen “hot spots” where I am able to make passes on riders I’m having trouble getting around. Two of them are through boggy mud. One is over the big-arsed root — lots of slowing to try to ride it while I carry lots of speed on the dismount. One is on the slippery left-turn uphill exiting the gravel road climb. I ran this section on four of the laps and was faster than most who rode it. Another is the 180 leading into the step. Lots of people rode up to the steps but I was able to pass folks by dismounting right before the turn and sprinting by them. Another good one was a flat downhill trail between two pavement sections. Most people soft pedaled it. I turned it up and cranked around a few riders there.

The fifth lap turned out to be the bell lap. I was surprised that they didn’t let us go another lap. When I went though the finish area, I heard the bell but I thought it was someone ringing a cowbell. Then coming out of one of the mud hot-spots early in the lap, I saw green on my shoulder. I thought it was junior rider Jacob Rathe because he had passed twice only to stop to attempt to deal with some problem. Anyway, I knew he was in a race with the Fred Meyer boys so I waved him by. It turned out to be a guy I had just passed. This guy then held me up though the “root” loop (lots of slippery roots) and I followed him up the climb (a mistake). I finally got around him on the trail section hot-spot and gunned it. Anyway, I only realized it was the bell lap going up the gravel hill because I heard the announcer say it was the final lap. One more lap would have been perfect.

Oh yeah, I caught my teammate Bill on the meadow section coming down off the run-up. I was right on him making the turn onto the bridge. I made a tactical mistake there. He slowed quite a bit getting onto the bridge and went outside. Instead of getting aggressive and taking the inside line (maybe push him off the bridge? — kidding) and keeping my speed, I slowed. Bill then used a junior rider to gap me through the uphill constriction. I never got back on him after that. I rolled through the finish line in perhaps 12th place (out of 90 starters).

Once again, I had what I considered a great race. It was lots of fun. I stayed aggressive until the end. I’m learning better tactics every race. I think I’m going to have to bite the bullet and put it all on the line for the initial sprint in the remaining races. If I blow, I blow. But if I don’t crank it on the start, I’m not going to be challenging for the top ten.

Result = 13/66

Yah, yah. I raced Masters 30+. Let me tell ya, 60 minutes is a whole lot more suffering than 45-50 minutes.

I have a cold. It’s not too bad but I’ve got some congestion and some coughing. Last year — almost to the day — I had a cold but it was way worse. Last year, almost to the day, I raced PIR with practically the same course layout. Last year I suffered greatly because of my cold. This year I only suffered moderately. The most frustrating thing was seeing a couple racers I know I can beat ride off on the final two laps. The second best thing was coming past Brad Ross (Cross Crusade promoter) right before the finish. The absolute best thing was getting lapped (for the second time) by the race leaders (Tonkin and Skerritt) less than 50 yards before the finish line, thus saving me from another lap.

I finished 18 out of 27 but I know that I could have finished higher if I were 100%. The Veloshop race had a really cool vibe. Even though each of the races had about 60-80 starters, that was a welcome break from fields almost twice as large in the ross Crusade races. I got to the venue pretty early and volunteered to help out and was put to work counting laps — well, writing down numbers — for the B and SS B race. That job gave me a new found appreciation for the fine art of pinning numbers. Yo, look at what side everyone else is pinning theirs to, don’t pin in the middle of your back, don’t pin upside down, and make sure all corners are secure.

I enjoyed the course. It was a lot like a dirt crit with some tricky spots for variety. Though there is not much elevation, the course does use berms to spice things up with off-camber sections. There is also the one hill that is used to good effect. I was really pleased with my off the bike skills. I put time into people every time I went over barriers and held my own on the run-ups. That’s a big deal for me since I’m carrying about 30 extra pounds. When the leaders came around, I was even staying with them thorugh the dismounts — well, except for Tonkin and Skerritt.

20/28

I had a great race. I stayed up and didn’t make any big mistakes but I definitely know some areas where I can make improvements. Most importantly, I had a lot of fun. The weather was kind this week. It rained Thursday night and then held off until Saturday during the final lap of the men’s Elite race. Still, the ground was saturated so parts of the course turned into peanut butter bogs while other parts were merely slick.

Family life kept me from getting to the Alpenrose Dairy early enough to preride the course. The full schedule of races dictated by over 750 racers and UCI rules meant that the promoters scheduled the races tightly with no open course time between the early races. A teammate (Dave Gast) and I scouted out the course. While the routing was mixed up from pervious incarnations, there were really no surprises and it looked to be a great and challenging course. While Dave and I were checking out the course, we ran into Terry K (Team O) who was warming up.

After scouting the course I went out and rode some of the local streets for a warm-up. I wanted to stage well this week so I kept an eye on the starting area from time to time. At about the time I decided it would be prudent to stage, I saw that no one had lined up yet and took the opportunity to cruise back to my car to get a drink. By the time I got back to the line, there were 40 people staged. D’oh.

I lined up and waved to two of my teammates (Dave and Bill) who were sitting pretty in the first row. I also saw that Terry had snagged a front row spot as well. Tim Chen, another of teammates slid in next to me and we stood around waiting for the gun. The start was up a slight incline for perhaps 50 yards to a 90 degree right turn, another 50-60 yards slightly downhill to 90 degree right turn, and then another 30 yards to a 90 degree left turn onto the first dirt. After a brief level section, there was another 90 degree right turn down a long hill which lead to a right hand sweeper up a hill. This portion was one of my hot spots since I was able to carry speed into the uphill and found a pretty good line up the hill. I used this section to pass stubborn riders on several laps.

The course meandered through some pasture and went in and out of the trees to the first of the mud. Soon, the easy mud turned into the difficult mud. Out on the backside there was a nasty off-camber downhill through sticky mud. While it was no faster to ride than run, I tried to ride as far as possible since it was slightly less taxing than running. At some point, however, a dismount was mandatory – on a downhill! The remount lead into my second hot spot. After the mud, there was a flat hardpack to a 180. After the turn, the course went up a gentle rise over grass/mud/. I had that section dialed. I had the fastest line and the perfect gear and always overtook riders on that section. At the top of the rise, the course was flat over hardpack gravel and pavement before dumping back down into the pasture for the off-camber grassy descent to the base of the run up. As usual, the run up was steep and ended at the top of turns 1 and 2 of the velodrome. After gaining all that height, we dropped back down to enter the velodrome on the straight between turns 2 and 3. This included a short but nasty off-camber drop and following rise that I found just as fast (and more secure) to run.

Inside the velodrome, the course snaked around the infield and then followed the apron around to the finish. After the finish, we crossed the infield and exited the velodrome and climbed to the top of the rise behind turns 3 and 4. If the course had been dry, that hill would have been rideable but with the mud, it was more prudent to run. After a tricky dipsy-doo and a few tight turns, we dumped back out onto pavement which quickly lead back to the start line. The course definitely rewarded riders who could stay up and who could choose the best lines.

The starter finally blew the whistle and 87 Masters B racers took off. Not 20 feet into the race, a guy right in front of me broke his chain. I’m sure he was disappointed that he was out of the race almost before it had started. I succeeded in avoiding him and stayed upright through the early turns. The first lap was a blur and early on I had the impression that I was getting passed quite a bit. I got caught behind some backups but when things started stringing out I started passing riders. By the second lap, I was definitely advancing my way through the field and as I was approaching the finish line to start the third lap, I saw Terry take a spill in front of me. I slipped around him and he pulled in behind me. We raced together the rest of the way. After the race, Terry mentioned that he had had a terrible time staying up during the first two laps.

On the third lap, Terry and I pulled in more riders, including my teammate Dave. Terry and I traded places at least once a lap and for a while a couple of other guys hung with us. Terry was definitely faster on his feet while I managed to put it to him on the pavement. I found a couple good lines while following him and he credited me with showing him quite a few good lines too. On the fifth lap, Terry and I shook the two riders who had been hanging with us (Mike Colesar from Disco Velo and a guy on a red bike with a grey jersey with red lettering) and reeled in my Teammate Bill. Through the fifth lap, I followed Bill and Terry followed me. On the sixth lap, as we came down the long downhill section, I was right behind Bill. He looked to take the inside line on the sweeping uphill so I went around him on the outside. Before I could get around him, he drifted (swerved?) outside and pinched me into the tape and I lost all my momentum. Terry came around me and the two of them gapped me.

I still thought I had a chance to get them on my second hot spot but coming down peanut butter hill, I wobbled and caught my handlebar on one of the tape poles. I dismounted and looked behind me and saw Mike Colesar gaining. From that moment until I entered the velodrome, I raced to keep my position. At the top of the run-up, I managed to lap a junior before the drop leading to the velodrome entrance. I figured that Mr. Colesar would have trouble getting by that rider and I could preserve my place. I ended up about seven seconds behind Terry and Bill.

I had a great time on Saturday. I really enjoyed racing with Terry. I think we both pushed each other to go a little bit faster. While I know that Bill would have liked to have preserved his great start, it felt gratifying to be able to chase him down and race with him for a lap or two. I felt good that I managed to stay upright and only had a couple foibles. Ah, I can hardly wait until next week.

Result = 18/80

The rains came to the Pacific Northwest this past Friday. The Jet Stream dipped down right over Portland and funneled a slow moving rain maker right over us. An inch and a half of rain fell on Friday and more came down Saturday night. Come Sunday morning the ground was soft and squishy. Ah yes, it must be cyclocross season.

Right after parking I ran into Terry from Team O and checked out his new-to-him Sachs. A light rain fell while I registered and a southeast wind snapped the flags on the stadium. I picked up my number and timing chip and headed back to the car to bundle up for my warm up. By the time I got on the bike, the rain had stopped — temps around 50 degrees — and it held off until after my race.

Since this was my first race of the season, I had the jitters pretty good. I didn’t arrive early enough for a pre-ride but I rode along the course and used lulls early in the C race to ride a couple of the tricky looking sections. The course was flat and would have been very fast had it not been so muddy. The front half (more like two-thirds) of the course was mostly over muddy grass and looped over a ten foot high hill three times. The first time was a rideable uphill that dropped back into a very fun whoop-tee-do uphill left hand turn. The second time was another rideable uphill, then back down a nasty off-camber to loop around 180-degrees and back up a wood chip strewn run-up. The third time climbed the hill along its length and presented a slippery off-camber section before turning sharp right to climb to the top. If dry, that might have been rideable but with the mud it certainly wasn’t. The final descent was bumpy and muddy with little opportunity to maintain a lot of speed into the bumpy and muddy meadow. The back section of the course was a long stretch of hard pack with a 180 degree turn back onto a long section of pavement. The final bit took two paved left hand turns and a final hard right back onto grass and the six-pack barriers.

This season I decided to go into races with some sort of plan. For this race (Masters 35+ B), I intended to start toward the back of the pack and attempt to move up through the field by racing aggressively. I extended my warm up and staged late, taking my place near the back of perhaps 60 racers. I waved to three of my teammates who managed to snag second row spots. The start was a cluster because of the narrow chute dictated by the chip timing sensor. A guy next to me ran into the back of another rider and went down. After clearing the start, I held position through the first few turns and started picking off a few riders on the straights. Through the first lap I mostly maintained position, picking up a spot here and losing a spot there. I was amazed at the number of guys who went down on that first lap – some even falling on flat and straight sections. It was slippery as snot

By the second lap, things had strung out and the first lap sprint was over. Early in the lap I came up behind a pack of five riders and moved through them quickly. I bridged to another pack of five and mover through them. Just after putting a few feet on that group, I went down in a corner leading into the off-camber hill section. Instead of getting back on the bike for the short section before the dismount, I shouldered the bike and ran. I actually managed to pass the few guys who got by me when I went down and I was feeling pretty good about not losing much time. When I remounted, I discovered that I had dropped my chain and I was unable to shift it back on. When I stopped to fix the chain, the group gapped me. I tried to chase back on but couldn’t manage. I figured that the fall and dropped chain might have messed up my rhythm and that’s why I didn’t seem to be able to get the snap back into my legs. However, it turned out that I had tweaked my rear rim pretty severely and it caused quite a bit of drag each revolution as the wobble went through the brakes. Unfortunately, I didn’t figure that out until I was well into the final lap. If I had noticed it earlier, I would have done a bike exchange.

I could see the last guy in that group perhaps thirty yards in front of me and I worked to close the gap but just couldn’t manage it. It was frustrating not to be able to catch back on since I knew I had been going faster than that guy not long before. As the race wore on, I caught and passed riders dropping off the pace. I was pleasantly surprised to pass riders at least three of the times through the barrier six-pack.

On the final lap, I tracked down two more (non-lapped) riders and on the final paved section I tried to pull in two more. Just before the two paved left hand turns, I came up on the first guy. I considered trying to motor around him through the curves but decided that I didn’t want to risk going down that close to the finish. I let up and stayed on his butt up to the barriers. It turned out that he was faster through the barriers than I was. In retrospect, I should have at least challenged him on the curves instead of pulling up.

Even though the tweaked rim slowed me down, I felt very good about the race. I stayed aggressive through the whole race. I improved my lines each lap. And I don’t suck quite as badly on the barriers as I used to.

Apparently the chip timing isn’t helping get results out faster because word is we won’t have final results until Wednesday.

Result = 32/71