Doing it all the hard way...

Monday, September 10, 2012

First Blood Kick off cross race report 2012

Evo rippin it up in 2012 !!
Remember this shot from the Tour de France?

After a leisurely Saturday spent putting fresh cables, bar tape and brake pads onto my cross bike the season kicked off Sunday.

We arrived early and put up the team tent. My mom (the human pallet jack) came out and helped with the set up. Hottie did most of the heavy lifting and took some great shots as well.

We cheered on Scott, Willard and a different Scott in the early races. Spinner John raced as well. He had his traditional race expression that made one wonder if he was passing a kidney stone during the race.

A loop around the course was encouraging. Some power, some technical and mixed terrain. I got in a few warm up laps and was excited to race.

Call ups were by number and it wasn't exactly a well oiled machine as riders snuck in and nobody said anything. I was it he back of the Cat 3 45 plus pack, so I wasn't too worried.

At the gun (or whistle, or holler, I can't recall) we were off. Just as I got rolling someone in front drifted way left into my lane and myself, and twenty of my riding friends grabbed our brakes. Soon we were up to speed, the we were stopped as the course turned from a thirty foot wide road to a four foot wide dusty trail and we were there waiting for our turn to go.

Soon we were zipping along a gravel road and then we were dumped onto the dried grass and a zig zag course that allowed us to string out a bit. There were clever off camber corners that if taken tight at the apex, would spill you down the hill and toward the tape. If you went tight you would find yourself braking then accelerating. If you started wide you could keep your speed and avoid the off camber. I was riding well and passing riders and then we were pinched as the course went onto some single track that included a wooden footbridge. With both feet on the ground we had to wait to go single file whilst the leaders were gaining minutes on the other side of the single track.

When I emerged I quickly moved up on a long gradual corner then a zig zag and onto the road for a long uphill that would be a site for suffering on later laps. The climb topped out as we rounded a tree and then a screaming descent followed by a dry dust right turn on asphalt that saw many a rider slide out. The descent continued on a gravel road followed by a one eighty turn that would be the sight of my crash in a few laps.

A fun banked corner followed by grassy turns and two barriers and a steep uphill that would see many a rider dab, stumble, stall and fall. Then we crossed a parking lot and more grassy zig zags as we gain elevation. Then a long off camber that dumps you onto the road for a short sprint to the start/finish line.

As we passed the finish line I saw six more laps to go.

The pinch points caught me on the second lap as well. It was frustrating to see the gaps I had gained with handling and/or power disappear as I waited to climb the dusty path or cross onto the single track. I took notice that I was behind Matthew and Big John and ahead of El Hefe and Tom B.

As the laps ticked on, John moved up and then I was moving up on him. I saw El Hefe gaining on me as well. On about the fourth lap I was in the middle of about eight riders and we were poaching each other in corners and on the brief straights. As we hit the long road uphill, the race fatigue showed and I was able to power past ALL of them and take my lead on the descent. El Hefe caught me and he moved to the front of a small group of four or so riders I had just caught onto.

On the fifth lap Sam (El Hefe) was pulling away and I was hanging on to my group. Tom B was way behind and Big John wasn't too far ahead. After the climb and screaming descent I took the dusty turn wide and shot down the loose gravel. At the bottom was a turn and someone else came in tight after I came in wide and we both hit the apex at the same time (albeit from different angles) the laws of centrifugal force are always enforced and I went down hard and rolled over.

That little drip of blood in the Curtlo head badge is soooo cool. I may look for some clear nail polish so I can keep it forever!

When I got up I was dazed and losing time. My left calf had caught a pedal and was cramping so I walked a few feet before remounting and discovering my chain had come off. It took me a full minute to get it on and I gored the middle finger of my left hand in the process.

I remounted and Tom B had caught me and asked if I was okay. Tom is a surgeon and if I had stopped and shown him my finger he would have had to stop (trapped by the hypocratic oath). Beating Tom was my goal on the day, so I had to dig to keep him from going ahead of me.

As I continued on the lap I realized my finger didn't just hurt, it was bleeding. It was bleeding a lot. It was someone's bright idea to wear our white jerseys for this one race and I didn't want to get blood on it. I wiped my finger on my shorts because my brake lever was getting slippery from the blood. As I streaked by the team tent I wondered if anyone would notice my bloody hand. I guess I was just going so fast they couldn't. Even my own mom would shout "go 20/20," which she said to every rider on my team. If she doesn't recognize my face she won't notice my bloody hand.

Bloody lever....

I was actually feeling really good and was preparing to gas it for my last lap. I could not see crowd that I had been racing with ahead of me as the gap from my crash was large. As I approached the finish line I looked at the lap board and it said "finished." I was done.

Aside from my crash I was pleased with my performance. I didn't have my usual miserable first race of season finish. I felt strong, my handling skills were good, and I had something left in the tank that I will get to use next time.

After making my way back to the team tent my mom offered me a crumpled Kleenex to wipe my wound. Declining to mix her mucus with my blood I went to the first aid tent. In our other local series, they lay you out and treat you. In this series they hand you a handy wipe and a band aid.

As the adrenaline wore off my finger started throbbing. A tooth of my crankset had pierced my fingernail and all injuries to fingertips hurt more than they should.

We watched the kids race and then McWoodie and Brad tore up the master 1/2's.

Returning home I cleaned the bike and washed clothes (twice, as this is cyclocross and my white jersey still isn't back to its usual white splendor). I showered and washed the blood and dirt off and then cursed when I dried off and got blood and dirt on our white towel.

How do I know it is cyclocross season? After my shower I grab the antibiotic cream and dab it onto my left hand, right hand, left shoulder, left leg, right leg, and left hip. I don't know where most of these scrapes and divots came from.

Oh yes; it is good to be racing cross again!

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