Doing it all the hard way...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sprinker Race Report 2010

I am going to need a bigger helmet

I will just jump to the happy ending. I took sixth. That is the highest finish I have ever had in a Seattle Cyclocross race. I had concluded my eighth place two weeks ago was a fluke because of the very unique course. If ever there is a race where you have to run and carry your bike the whole way, I expect I will do well in that. This season has also seen a higher than usual number of guys race once or twice and disappear, so there are a bunch of guys faster than me that don’t have as many season points because they have missed races. I was fifth in points going into this weekend’s race and I held my spot.

The day was freakishly cold for a Seattle Cyclocross race. Thirty-five degrees was as high as any racer saw the mercury on Sunday. We had some flurries at 9 and again at 2. Everyone was layered up, so I don’t think the temperature had much, if any effect on the finishing positions.

How it happened….
Feel free to skip this part, it won’t hurt my feelings.
It was decided to start the juniors ahead of us this week, so we weren’t the first to go at the whistle. We hit it 30 seconds after the juniors. At fifty yards I was in second place and when the turns started I was fifth. We had some furious passing and a couple crashes in the first two minutes so the first chance to look up and count bikes was about a quarter of the way into the first lap. I counted a breakaway of three, a lone rider, and I was at the back end of a foursome so I figured I was eighth.

I decided to try and hold my position. For the first time (and I don’t know why), I really viewed the course as a set of smaller distinct sections. Usually I think of a course as having two or three sections, but for some reason I viewed each corner as a section, each straight as a section and thought about how best to ride (or even race) each micro section.

I braked hard into the sharp corners and accelerated out. I attacked the hills and got out of the saddle often. On a long section of pavement I got in the drops and dropped down to a high gear. At the end of the second lap three guys passed me just past the finish line. I committed to hang on the back of the last rider or die trying. I held his wheel the whole third lap. I saw my nemeses, Francisco Pons on a corner just a few spots in front of me. Pons has been a consistent top five finisher and he looked to be having a bad race if he was back here by me.

Early on the final lap I pulled alongside the rider I had been following and outran him at the barriers. Then I pushed to get a gap. I held him off through the sand and after the run up I spied a rider in front of me who seemed to be fading. I dug deep and closed the gap. There was a long grass section that followed the outfield fence of a softball field, and I passed him and saw the third guy who had passed me ahead on the pavement. His kit told me he was one of the "Big" names in my category. There were 150 yards of pavement before a hard 90 plus degree turn then a final 100 yard sprint to the line on pavement. I passed this rider well before the turn and he didn’t respond. I took a line into the last corner like I owned the place. I was in the drops and out of the saddle sprinting toward the line. I could hear the announcer getting excited as the two riders behind me were racing each other and I didn’t want them to catch me in the process.

I figured I was around eleventh. The last time I thought I was eleventh I was in fact nineteenth. When the results were posted I was shocked to find I was sixth. Only 32 seconds behind the winner. Pons had a typical race and was in fact, second or third. I was delighted. I still am. I realized that my early count of riders in front of me must have included a few of the juniors. When I thought I was eighth I was probably in fact, fifth or so.

I am not sure what happened. If this sounds like I’m bragging, forgive me; I’m just so pleasantly surprised I can’t contain myself. And this is a time in my life where I needed some good news..

In case anyone is wondering if, like Lance Armstrong, I have my own photographer, yes I do. Hottie and I have a deal. She takes pictures of me when I race and I carry her gear, and when required her umbrella, when she shoots the other races. I think that is a different arrangement than Lance has with his photographer, but that is his business, not mine.

1 comment:

bikelovejones said...

The second photo ought to become your Money Shot; run off a bunch, autograph them with a thin black Sharpie and hand them out when you come down for USGP.
MASSIVE race and great report!
Happy Tryptophan Day (urp!) and I'll see you soon --bh