Monday, November 29, 2010
Series Final Monroe 2010 Race Report
Clawing my way past Francisco!
Lighting strikes a third time!
I’m not sure what is happening. I really, really want to figure it out, but I also don’t want to mess it up. I finished seventh in my race and an amazing fifth in the series. The final race counted for double points which helped my cause. The racer that has been my nemesis for the past two years, Francisco Pons, is a heck of a nice guy, and while I don’t mean him any ill, I was delighted to beat him for the first time all year. The last time I beat him was also by a single place at this same race last year.
I am scratching my head to understand why I am doing so well all of a sudden. Is it the intervals I have been doing for four months? Is it the weight training I have been doing for ten months? Am I suddenly getting better recovery? I am riding the same bike, with the same tires and the same everything. My two worst finishes this year were on my favorite courses. What the heck?
I am going totally geek trying to repeat the same magic. As one could guess, this is difficult when I can’t determine the source of my magic. I warmed up on a trainer before my first top ten finish, so you better believe I am now doing it before every race. I have been using the same water bottle for my pre-race drink for years for no particular reason. Of course the drink inside is the same as well. The only reason I don’t have lucky underwear is because this is cycling, and you don’t wear any underwear south of the border. There is a fine line between repetition and superstition. What am I doing and can I keep doing it?
At the start my left foot slipped out of my pedal, resulting in a pretty poor start. I guess four years is all I am going to get out of those cleats. I will change the cleats this week. Lucky for me there was a long wide path before the first hard turn so I was able to work my way back up to the top fifteen. After the first turn a long gradual uphill gave me a chance to move up to about eighth place. I lost a couple places as guys forced their way around me in a maze of grassy turns. When we hit the off camber from hell I dismounted early and ran past a couple riders who were struggling on the steep downhill. I lost a spot approaching the super steep run up. The run up was more of a vertical scramble on which most riders clawed their way up digging their free hand into the soft grassy muck. I took an open line and clawed past a rider. A greasy muddy section followed and then a section of gravel road followed by a paved portion and a monster puddle that gave everyone wet, cold feet. I held my spot past the finish line and then around a sandy field and back to the start line. After the first lap, the top nine riders had established a gap and I was the caboose of that train.
On the second lap three riders pulled away and then the remaining riders began to string out as well. I passed a rider on the long starting straightaway and clung to Francisco Pons’ rear wheel. On the third lap I passed Pons on this same straightaway and hit the grassy turns with a small gap. By now we were picking our way through the lapped riders and that always gets weird. My gap continued to grow and looking behind Francisco I couldn’t see the next rider. Halfway through the fourth lap I saw a Cucina Cucina rider and tried to gain some ground. I bobbled the remount after the run up, and any hopes of closing the gap were gone. I went fast on the road and finished strong. I guessed I was seventh or eighth and for the first time all season, I was right.
After donning some dry clothes I discovered they were cooking burgers and dogs for anyone who wanted one. The simple joy of a naked burger on a naked bun was wonderful. I didn’t get any awards or win anything in the raffle but I was on cloud nine with my season. Later in the day one of my teammates won the New Belgium cruiser bike. He is a great guy and I am happy for him. He was one of the riders in our Peloton of Discovery trip in August.
The stars are aligning for Portland and Bend. My dear mum is sticking around through the holidays and has offered to hang at our place with Mr. T (Tux) during the USGP in Portland, and Nats in Bend. We have a place to stay in Bend. Last year Bend was hellishly cold and Hottie was in constant pain (despite a bevy of drugs) with her back one month away from fusion surgery. This year we won’t be rushed, it can’t be that cold again, and Hottie is healthy.