Doing it all the hard way...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seattle CX Series Finale Monroe Race Report

I guess I thought it meant lungging..

With mixed emotions I bid farewell to my 2009 Washington State Cyclocross campaign. It was a great year and I truly enjoyed the camaraderie of being on a team. The foolish (and I would not pass up an opportunity to be foolish) among my team will be journeying to Bend, Oregon for the Cyclocross National Championships in December.

I raced in all of the 2009 Seattle Cyclocross races as well as the warm up races of Starcrossed, the Rad Racing GP, and the Labor Day flat tire fest. I am expecting that the scene in Bend will be worthy of a report or two and I am expecting an epic final chapter to my Cross Season saga. I will therefore end my ruminations about the season and confine the balance of my report to this race.

On a last minute whim, I decided to run a local neighborhood fun run on Thanksgiving morning. Perhaps a hundred runners set off in a light grey drizzle and Zach promptly bid me adieu and shot to the front of the parade. He would finish a very honorable third. I found myself moving up and to my amazement I think I collected what has become my race place, fifteenth. The large meal later that day was uneventful, and I went to bed only a little sore from my race.

I slept in Friday, but when I did decide to get up, my legs screamed at me. My quads, my hamstrings and my calves all felt like they had been beaten with metal pipes. I ran competitively in high school and college and despite thousands of miles of cycling, and limiting my runs to a short jaunt once or twice a month, I somehow still see myself as a runner. This perception may finally be changing as it took a concerted effort to get ready to ride Sunday. Massage (thank you Hottie), Aleve, hot showers and finally a visit to the Shoreline YMCA to soak in the hot tub Saturday evening, were all aimed at getting this broken rack of bones ready to go fast Sunday morning. I’m not sure which race or illness I am still recovering from; but I spent an amazing amount of my four day weekend sleeping. The slumber helped tremendously and I was able to suit up and complete my Cyclocross mission this past Sunday.

When I was loading the final provisions into the war wagon Sunday morning the only thing that really hurt was going down the stairs. Since the only running we normally do in Cyclocross is on level ground for barriers or uphill for run ups, I figured I was safe.

I was wrong yet again. The course had a downhill-off camber-uphill sequence that looked like it would be best to run it at least on the first lap in heavy traffic.

The start was the usual circus, and I gave up some spots only to gain them back quickly on the grassy turns. I had two guys that were near me in points, Bob from Old town whom I had just snagged last week at Sedro Woolley and Francisco who I had battled most of the year. Bob and I were separated by a single (drop the lowest race) point and whoever prevailed Sunday would prevail in the series. Up on “the grassy knoll” I was chasing Francisco and Bob was chasing me. I fought to keep a gap and whenever there were hairpins I could see my teammate Mike ahead and I was on Francisco’s wheel and Bob was behind me.

When we came to the downhill-off camber-uphill challenge, I knew it was going to be painful. This first lap as everyone bunched up and grabbed their brakes to creep down the steep loose hill under some semblance of control, I dismounted and blasted down, across, and up and passed four or more riders. The downhill hurt and a patient person could search and find my contorted face on Hottie’s smugmug site and laugh at my plight.

The loose corner was best negotiated with an outrigger..

As the race wore on, Bob lost contact and Francisco and I were closing in on Mike. With half a lap to go we had gapped any other riders in our category. I sat on Francisco’s wheel and, like a hungry cat, I waited to pounce. The downhill-off camber-uphill sequence went fine and I held off till the run up. I blitzed him by taking a steep line to the left that was more like climbing a ladder than stairs but it gave me the inside line as the course turned left. I muscled through the wet sand and deep mud had a good corner coming off the hill. I stomped it on the gravel road and took the pavement of the finishing straight really, really fast. I crossed the line and I’ll check the results to see what his time was. To my amazement I wasn’t as cooked as I have been after other races. Perhaps my tender legs had kept me under control?

Hottie continued to shoot the races and got some outstanding shots on the day. I collected some swag when they started tossing it to the crowd. While I may not be able to win many awards in Cyclocross races, if they gave away finishing positions based on how well one did on jump balls, or how well one could jump and collect swag when standing among women who average less than five and a half feet tall, I’d do okay.

No comments: