Cross Crusade race #5
Barton Park, Carver, OR
November 4, 2007
35+A category

The weather was warm and sunny and the Barton course was completely different than any of the previous four I’ve raced. It was pretty flat, pretty straight, and pretty smooth. Sure, there were two challenging run ups and plenty of loose gravelly corners, but Barton was fast, fast, fast.

Though much of the course was recycled from previous incarnations, the course designer (Brian Witty) had us going reverse the usual direction, linked up different sections, and threw in new twist — lots of pavement through the campground. The course lended itself to group riding. The fastest A racers lapped the masters field and this interjected an interesting dynamic into the 35+ race since most everyone managed to hang on to the back of the As for at least a little while. That helped some guys bridge gaps or create new ones. I know that it caused a couple of groups of the masters to splinter.

Once I realized just how fast the course was going to be, I started getting worried. I wasn’t sure how I was going to do in a wide open race. To make matters worse, I got to staging late. The previous race went off late so that meant my race was going to be delayed too. Well, not everyone got the memo. I was in back of the pack.

However, during the callups and subsequent scrum, I managed to improve my starting position quite a bit. We finally got the whistle and we were off. My start wasn’t too bad and I found myself behind Terry Keele. Terry usually starts really well so I felt pretty good sitting on his wheel until things got sorted out.

Over the opening lap, Terry and I made our way past a couple people and after a bit, I passed Terry and picked up a couple more guys. By the start of the second lap, I was just off the pace of the top ten or twelve who were all bunched in a tight paceline. Over the second lap, Jim Juenger latched on to my wheel after I passed him and then we caught up to Dave Diviney. The three of us worked well together — well, Dave and I did. Jim sat on most of the time because I think he was pretty maxed out holding our wheels.

Over the better part of three laps, Dave, Jim and I fell a bit farther off the front bunch but extended our lead over another bunch of chasers behind us. We picked up John Mitchem and then lost him briefly when he went down.

At the very end of the fifth lap, Dave was leading us up an incline to the long gravel section prior to the finish. I was right behind him and I figured he would be pulling off at the top. Well, he started slowing pretty fast and I didn’t react fast enough. We overlapped wheels and I went down just like that. Jim ran right over my bike. Dave called out a “Sorry …” as he disappeared down the road.

Jim was on his side trying to pull his bike off of mine and I had somehow managed to bail out right before he crashed on top of my bike. I calmly pulled his bike off of mine and he got under way. A couple fingers on my right hand were ragged and bloody and the front end of my bike had some issues. John Mitchem flew by.

I started walking and said out loud to nobody in particular, “I’m done.” Once I said that, my attitude changed and I twisted my bars back in line, twisted my shifters back to “good enough” and got back in the race. Dave and I had established such a good gap over the rest of the field, I was still well ahead of the chasers. Trouble was, I was all alone now.

The next four laps were pretty hard. I tried to chase Diveney and Mitchem who had linked back up shortly after I crashed. I tried to chase back to Jim Juenger too. But they were too far up the road. On the seventh lap, the As started coming around. I latched onto Decker’s wheel coming through the pavement in the campground but lost them just prior to the run up. If I’d have managed to hold on through the next section, I might have gotten back up to Diviney and Mitchem. But no dice.

With a couple to go, I came by Diviney who had crashed on the little drop into the campground. It must have been fairly bad since he wasn’t looking to get up. Someone was already there and he was alert so I kept on going. I was pretty bummed to see him on the side of the road since he had been having a great race and I had been enjoying our competition the past few races. I hear he needed sutures but probably nothing was broken. I hope for a speedy recovery.

Some of the guys behind me were using the As to move up and it was all I could do to slow down the amount of time they were picking up each lap. On the bell, I felt pretty good about my chances for holding them off. I could see Erik V. creeping up steadily. I worked hard that last lap to stay focused and get to the line without getting overtaken.

On the final gravel road section, I looked back and had a pretty big gap so I started soft pedaling. I came around for the finish line and heard someone coming up on me. Erik had charged hard (with a nasty gouge out of his knee) to come close to pipping me at the line.

A few race notes … Rich Cramer is riding super fast right now. He’s won his last two races and today there was some really tough competition. A few of the 35+B guys moved up to the 35+A race at Barton. Steve Brown scored an impressive 17th and Scott Barker turned in a respectable 22nd.

There were 11 DNFs out of 49 starters — a pretty high attrition rate. When the pace gets high and you have a problem far from the pits, I think the inclination is to walk on back to the car — I almost did.

Oh, and the good news is that I managed to hang on for 11th palace. I’m still shooting for a top ten and I’ve got two more Crusade races to try to get it.

One more thing … you’ve got to head over to Kenji’s blog to check out Skerrit and Decker doing wheelies at the finish line. I mean they are neck and neck and they are doing wheelies. That rocks!

3 Responses to “Barton park”

  1. Steven Brown says:

    Great job keeping position and finishing 11th after your crash. I only saw you on the start line and for about 20 seconds after the start.

    That was a tough course for a mt. bike! Thanks to all the guys that let me suck wheel. I was in the chase group behind you for most of the race but lost them on a near wipe out in the big mud puddle.

    Once my bike filled with mud it felt so heavy and slow. Of course the extra 20 minutes of racing didn’t help much either. The cross bike is just a week or two away (at this point does it really matter?)

    The a & a+ are a great group to run with. It’s even cool getting lapped by the big boys.

    Next year…watch out!

  2. Jim Juenger says:

    Great race report! Correct evaluation, I was just holding on, I would have popped or just slowed you and David down had I tried to take a turn up front. I wondered what made you go down. I chose hitting the bike over you, thanks for helping to get me untangled from between the bikes. Kudos to your tenacity to get it going again. Glad neither of us got real banged up.

    I hooked onto the Skerritt train and they pulled me up close to Diviney. They gapped me at the concrete barrier on the dike and caught David and the he hooked on and they were gone. Bummer David crashed on the last lap, hope he is ok.

    Looking forward to Estacada…. Cheers!

  3. Brooke says:

    Jim, thanks for deciding to run over my bike. Good choice on your part. I was such an idiot for letting that happen. I’ve heard a bunch of people saying how that little rise was tougher than it looked. I should have been ready for Diviney to bail since he had been on the front for a bit.

    Hey Steve, what’s the deal on the cross bike that never arrives? I know you are going to be faster with a cross bike. I saw on one of the videos that you were right with me going down the dike descent on the first lap. You must have been bumming on the pavement.

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