Doing it all the hard way...

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Crash and burn and death and birth !

Crashing is part of the game..
Like many good stories; this one begins with the protagonist ignoring warnings of prudent origin.  El Chefe had cautioned me; riding the Thrilla loop backwards was almost pointless compared to riding it in the usual counter-clockwise direction.  “It just doesn’t flow; it doesn’t feel right,” he offered in a questioning tone. The awkward pause almost asking me to join him in a ride mutiny.  I let the moment slip away.

Geoff has been our faithful and kind leader on these journeys and he seemed to really want to ride it backwards.  I felt inclined to support him (or at least try it so I could know better in the future).  

With a scheduled evening departure we were all carrying powerful headlights. El Chefe and I were sporting the Maglia Bruno and Geoff was clad in his Roosterwear.  Doug’s attire reflected his apparent strong need for autonomy.  The backwards route starts off by climbing up heart attack hill three minutes after you leave your car. The short approach is beneficial because as soon as you see what you will be climbing you start to question yourself.  The climb ascends to the horizon at an alarming grade. There is a gate at the top that gives perspective to how steep the climb is.  Because the approach is so short, you find yourself riding up it before you were able to talk yourself out of it.

Like a poker hand containing four of a kind, we four idiots climbed the long, loose slippery grade which averages 18% without any of us stopping.  Your forward/upward momentum started and stopped with each pedal stroke. If your wheel spun out you would be doomed to climb the rest on foot.  I didn’t say walk because it is too steep to call it a walk.

At the top I likened the climb to the Zoo Hill climb in Issaquah; I can do it, but it isn’t fun.  The route continued up the somewhat monotonous Tolt power/pipeline trail.  The route would climb a hill and then gave back half of the elevation only to climb another hill and again give back a portion of that climb as well.  Continuing east we steadily gained elevation on the roller coaster road.  On one of the short descents we were creating a wake of leaves that flipped over like dominos as we passed.  It was the highlight of the day. This trail is fine in fulfilling its purpose of getting you back to Red Hook after doing the fun parts of the Thrilla, but on its own it wasn’t a party.  I was yet to be impressed. 

When we finally turned and dove down into the forest it was completely black and our lights had been on since heart attack hill.  The flow was reversed and the portions that are a blast to ride as a curvy, flowy, gradual uphill now required braking and since we were travelling slightly downhill, the braking wasn’t as effective.  The trail was covered with huge golden brown leaves so the route itself wasn’t as obvious as normal. 

Can I again stress that we were riding it backwards (I prefer backwards to reverse because backwards implies there is a different, clearly superior, direction).  The turns required a little more care and we were wisely going slower than our usual throw-down speed.  The loose leaves and wet ground also made the corners a little more adventurous than usual.
                                       El Chefe' on the Volcanoes trip
El Chefe and I were zipping along and I went just a little wide on a left hand corner covered with yellow leaves. The leaves made it hard to judge where the edge of the trail was and what was off the trail. As my front wheel was about to be back on the “proper” trail the wheel and front of the bike unexpectedly dropped.  I could now see the trail had a buried plank of wood on the edge to prevent erosion and my wheel was on the wrong/downhill side of the plank.  The trail continued level across a small depression and my bike continued down the “off ramp” to the right.  My weight was now over the trail and my bike was on a divergent trajectory to the right.  The hinge point in this equation was my left knee against the edge of the plank. The bike didn’t lose traction in time (damn those awesome Clement MPX clinchers) and my knee bent in a direction it is not designed for.  If you imagine your left foot is supposed to hinge at the knee in the north and south directions; mine went west.

El Chefe was behind me when I rolled over in last Sunday’s race and I attribute this crash to him as well.  Why did he MAKE me crash AGAIN??  He was, however, perfect in coming to my aid.  He let me sit on the ground for a couple minutes while I went through the “WTF” phase and gathered myself. I tend to jump up and this time I was very content to sit still and wait.  With both hands I slowly took hold of my knee which hurt like hell.  It felt strange, like it wasn’t mine. It felt warm and cold at the same time. I ran my fingers up, down and around like I was feeling for something. Nothing was sticking out or bleeding.  Cautiously I held my knee and flexed my heel toward my butt. If you imagine getting hit from the side you would naturally bend your knees in to limit the side to side deflection which I had just experienced. Even though it was too late, I pulled my knee toward my chest and hoped everything would align.  Isn’t it funny how our minds work?
Oooooooohh   Shit !
After what seemed like several minutes, El Chefe helped me to my feet, commencing the “Okay, now what?” phase.  He offered to help me out of there and then offered to guide me back when I said I thought I could ride.  My leg could bear weight but flexing was another matter. I figured the route back was generally downhill with only minimal climbing so I decided I could make it. This really was more of a hope than a determination based in fact or logic. 
Our teammate "Hot Pants" out of gas in front of Casa de Chefe' last June
The crash had caused my wheel to move in the dropout and after realigning it the bike was ready to go.  Me; not so much. I stepped over and gingerly clipped in.   I started pedaling using my right leg for all the power and just having my left leg along for the ride. 
I should know better..
Then I entered the “Just how bad is it?” phase and decided to see how my left knee was working….

Light downward pressure on the pedals.  Left knee feels…….okay (I lied to myself).

Heavier downward pressure on the pedals….My whole knee hurt.  Everything from my lower quad to my calf muscles felt a burn.  Let’s stick with light downward peal pressure….

Then I thought I would try light pulling on the upward pedal stroke…Holy mother of shit!!  I felt a make-you-want-to-scream level of pain and all of it in one tiny spot.  That is not good.  That is way bad. Torn ACL was my first thought.  I’m not even sure that is where your ACL is, but that was the thought that was running through my head.
The blessed virgin had not blessed my bike or this ride..
I felt old.  I am a grandfather and I was riding fast, on wet gravel trails, in the dark, in cold weather.  What could be more stupid?  Why don’t I try it with a blindfold on?  I am lucky Hottie indulges my foolish priorities and allows me to pretend these things are relevant.  On the upside I am too old to spend much time in the “Regrets” phase and am quick to adjust to the “Acceptance” phase.

My brain switched to survival mode.  The night was cold but we had dressed for it.  I was pretty sure that whenever I stopped pedaling my knee would stiffen up.  Already my range of motion was limited.  I knew that the adrenaline that was helping me would soon expire as well. “Don’t stop till you reach the car” I thought to myself.  As we emerged from the watershed, Geoff was stopped.  “I’m going to keep riding,” I muttered without looking toward him; I turned west toward my car and the end of the ride.
Cool French tombstone
El Chefe escorted me and I took a squirt of hammer gel. Man that apple cinnamon has some flavor!  A few minutes later Geoff who had ridden ahead was stopped to add some air to his rear tire which had a slow leak.  Once again I mumbled something as I rode past not even considering stopping.

My mind was racing. The adrenaline had to go somewhere. I guess my Cyclocross season is over. What was the name o f the guy who did Hottie’s knee surgery?  Man, my knee hurts. Aren’t El Chefe’s knees cold?  I’m going to hurt tonight.  I’m glad I don’t shave my legs. My knee hurts. I guess if it is tendon or ligament damage there isn’t any rush to get it treated tonight.  The air smells fresh.  Gawd my knee hurts.  My toes are cold.   El Chefe is a stud. My knee sure hurts.  I wonder if I should call my doctor tonight or wait until morning.  My knee feels okay when I’m coasting downhill. Maybe it is just a strain?  Here is a short hill.  Holy shit my knee hurts. I am so screwed.

Just before emerging from the hills onto the Sammamish River Trail there are some downhill gravel corners that aren’t all that sharp, but are pretty loose.  As I got out of the saddle my left leg feels….unstable.  I settled back in my saddle and ease around the corners.
I knew the right medication could help me.
Soon I am on the trail and without a word to the others I pedal northward toward the car.  I am alone for a bit and I look skyward at the moonless night.  I try and freeze the moment in my mind as I assume I won’t be riding again for a good while.

 My hands are cold and the grass on the side of the bike trail sparkles like a sea of diamonds, the beads of dew reflecting light from the beam of my headlight.  El Chefe pulls alongside and I thank him for his help.  He says it was nothing, but I know that he fully realizes that I needed help.  Geoff and Doug stayed away sensing that I was not feeling social tonight. 

At the car I load the bike in and angle myself into my seat without bending my leg.  Now that I can let down my guard my knee really throbs. I am distracted but make it home without killing anyone.  I tend to Hottie’s misbehaving bike and stupidly test ride it.  Her lower saddle increases my knee angle and it feels like an ice pick in my knee.  My injury doesn’t seem to be making me any smarter.

I shower, eat and begin my Aleve and ice treatment.  I can’t find a position that is comfortable for my knee.  My legs are sore from the heart attack hill climb which adds insult to injury (literally).  Once in bed it takes a while before I fall asleep and I wake often during the night.  Turning hurts more than when I had knee surgery.  This sucks.

The next day I saw my doctor who listens to my story and pokes and pushes with the care of a good friend and exceptional doctor.  In that very room he once told me the best way to avoid surgery is not to visit a surgeon.  After completing the exam he tells me to set up an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon.  It appears I have injured my medial collateral ligament (MCL).  I could be okay and not need surgery.   Time will tell.
Any post that includes an image like this is generally bad news

Today I called and made the appointment. 

Someone told me this morning that I “must be devastated.”  I’m not devastated.  Today is one of the best days of my life.  Today my oldest son and his wife welcomed their first born, Alexander Joseph, into the world.  You can keep calling me Grandpa, but I am still not ready to grow up.   
My oldest son Zach, and his oldest son, one hour old today..
Please say hello to Alexander Joseph !

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Woolley Cross 2013 Race Report and Cyclocross Photos

Photos of everyone else can be found at SpotShot !!
Eight men out (of their minds)
Eight men sporting the maglia bruno made the journey to the grounds of the former Northern State Mental Hospital to partake in the the spectacle that is Woolley Cross.  We were all in the same race which was a treat.  Hottie was faithfully along for the day and Betty the Beast was at her final race in Washington for 2013.  
Does this make my butt look big?
With Halloween this week, Evo felt inspired to dress for the occasion.  After a week of seemingly endless fog, I was afraid to be cold so I was glad we had some awesome Fuel Coffee.
There is just something about Coffee !!
Oh Yeah....
The race organizers moved the start away from the haunted buildings which helped kept the mood less...Stephen King-like.  I'm not kidding. I'm not.
Evo wasn't the only one is costume....
We warmed up and the course revealed itself to be a combination of sketchy gravel speed sections, long grinding gradual climbs on alternating stretches of bumpy grass or loose gravel. There was a real run up and later a steep descent that made you want to grab the brakes.  It was mostly dry with just a couple wet sections to keep us honest.

This race in a highlight on my calendar for a few reasons. First, the venue is so weird it has to be seen to be believed. When the course is wet, the race is nothing short of epic. The biggest reason is that the race series is low key and uncrowded.  Instead of sixty guys in a race category, this series has twenty to thirty guys.  Forgive my using this as an example but instead of a five minute hike to the portable toilets where you stand in line to use one of the dozen or so blue shacks I walked one minute to find the five port-o-lets four of which had green signs indicating they were vacant.  

The cascade cross series has a great vibe as well.  It matters.
Some of us just have style...
The race got underway and a bunch of us were mixing it up.  I settled in and felt okay.  As we neared the end of the first of five laps I was getting really, really hot.  The long sleeve shirt and tweed sport coat along with the thick wool socks were causing me to overheat. 

I felt a certain responsibility dressed as I was to maintain a requisite level of class and had promised myself I would not unbutton my coat.  
Did I mention at times stuff was steep ?
As the race wore on I settled into a level of effort I could maintain without melting.  
Yeah, there were barriers
Some sliding on the gravel in combination with my costume made this a great day not to hang it all out there.  After the race Matthew would be wiping blood off his hand, arm and leg as a result of an up close and personal experience with the gravel.  

On the third lap I hit a small lip on the inside that was one of the few wet spots on the course and got my back wheel to slide to the right and it launched me on a perfect line to the run up.
Note the pristine elbow patches
The run up was short and it made sense to me not to even shoulder the bike.  On the fourth lap I approached the same lip and my front wheel slid out and I went down.  I was on my back with my bike in the air over me.  El Chefe was right behind me and his brakes were working just fine. Thank you DG !  Looking as if I planned it, I rolled over and with bike in hand, attacked the run up. A fan yelled, "Good thing that jacket has elbow patches."  I was feeling the power of the Tweed !
During the the race I had been getting lots of cheers for my costume. People were calling me Tweed guy, Bill Nye (The science guy), Bow tie guy and Professor.  I was reminded of a single speed race years ago when I was battling with a guy in a big bird suit.  The fans were all yelling for him and I felt like chopped liver.  Today I was that guy and everyone was cheering for me. I enjoyed that.
Note the dirt and grass on the elbow patches post-crash.  
My race was nothing special as I was so hot in the outfit.  I did beat the two riders I was dueling with on the last two laps in the last two hundred yards which was a small victory. After the race I took off the coat and it was soaked through with sweat. The shirt was clammy as if I had just pulled it out of the washing machine. I peeled down and changed into temperature appropriate clothing, and called it a day.  

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Bike Commuting Update Fall 2013

Look Ma, no hands !!
Although I haven’t mentioned it for quite some time, I’m still bike commuting one or two days each week.   Last year I tried to commute on Tuesdays and Thursdays and do intervals on the bike on my way to work.  This year I’m using spin classes for my intervals and using my commute as recovery.  Come December I’ll reclassify the commute as base miles, but for now, they are just easy miles.

After some thought I decided to make my commute more comfy and I’m riding a steel frame with a leather saddle and fat tires. Before you assume I am going all “Randonneur” on you; rest assured I am not.  Although I am often wearing wool, I haven’t felt the need to photograph my meals or buy food at gas stations so I am clearly keeping any randonneuring urges at bay.

My commute hits the sweet spot as far as distance at about seventeen miles (twenty-seven kilometers) each way.  The distance is enough to get dressed for and justifies bringing a bottle of water as well.  If it were much longer it would really take too much time compared to fossil fuel powered alternatives.

I am lit up like an ambulance with three powerful red lights flashing behind me and one red flasher pointing ahead along with a headlight that is so bright it warms the pavement.  I shamelessly subscribe to the lighting policy of, “Better to offend some and be seen by all.”  Riding in the dark with a dim tail light is tempting fate with an eventual outcome as predictable as playing the slots in Las Vegas.  

My teammate BigJohn has a bright orange helmet that can be seen in the peloton as easily as if he were wearing an orange traffic cone on his head.  For commuting I admired his visibility enough that I took a can of spray paint from my garage and turned my black helmet orange. 

I picked up some Planet Bike fenders that are wider and keep the water away from me.  I keep trying new things and refining my set up with no end in sight.

I have been on the same route now for more than two years. If you asked me what the worst section is on that route, I would point to one stretch of about 2k where I detour because of a bad combination of narrow shoulder and lots of traffic. 

We should all be careful what we wish for because that very section has been torn up for months with new water and sewer pipes going in and the entire road being replaced.  Why this isn’t being done in sections is beyond me, but the result is a long stretch of mess between my home and my office.

On my way in to work I am early enough that the construction guys haven’t arrived yet. The last few weeks I have been able to ride past the detour signs and through the construction mess on what is now gravel.  I can see that the new road will be wide and likely feature a healthy bike lane.

In the meantime, I can either detour like I am used to doing (and on my way home this remains my only option) or fight my way through the gravel which is often harder than I expect, especially with tired legs.   In the darkness before dawn the gravel does have a unique allure that draws me to ride it.  I find my shoulders rocking as I spin through the gravel with my tires wanting to wander.

My morning commute has been in the dark for some time now and my return journey in the evening will be in darkness when we move the clocks back in less than two weeks. We have had a run of thick fog that makes this ride an adventure and ensures I have my lights charged and flashing. The darkness and fog result in tunnel vision and forces a zen-like focus just to stay on route.

The cooler weather also necessitates more clothing, further slowing the journey. We had an unusually warm and long summer and I haven’t yet cycled through all of my long sleeve jerseys.  Booties and long gloves have been hiding in the back of my drawer waiting to be called to action.  I look at the gloves and winter clothing as if they are neglected friendships. I am excited to use them again. After a spring of road racing, a summer focused on big miles and a fall full of Cyclocross I am looking forward to the transition to some slower rides.

There was a recent article featuring Cyclocross racer Tim Johnson where he discussed how he felt the label of bike racer pigeon-holed him as he considered himself more a cyclist than a racer. I have a respect for bike commuters, road racers, mountain bikers, Cyclocross racers, summer cyclists, randonee riders and track cyclists.  Sometimes it is nice to ride a mile or more in someone else’s world.  It would be disappointing to have to choose only one aspect of cycling.

Back to the subject of commuting… 
I still marvel at the crap that ends up in the bike lane.  I chuckle at the stuff I see behind the signs that say, “FREE.”  It scares me when people pull out of their driveways with their car windows fogged up. It touches me when I see a man throwing a ball for his dog to chase in the park at five minutes past six in the morning.  I laugh out loud when I am riding through thick fog and I can see a TV in someone’s house with a weather man telling them it is foggy outside.

I still get anxious as I approach intersections and exercise my faith in my lights when cars come up on me from behind. I give dirty looks to people who don’t pick up their dogs poop and smile and greet pedestrians and runners when I can.  I try to memorize where the potholes are now that it is dark and I can’t see them and I rejoice when they get fixed.

I feel bad that I tend to neglect the drive train on my commuter bike and I hope if I ever run into Lennard Zinn, I’m riding a different bike.

It feels good to have the various aspects of the commute dialed in.  When you bike commute there are so many little things that have big consequences if forgotten that you really appreciate getting them right.  Things like my bike lock, keys to home, keys to the office, my phone, not to mention forgetting my glasses can all be game ending mistakes. 

When I get home the preparation for the next commute starts as I hang my gloves to dry. If my shoes are wet they go on the boot dryer.  Rain jacket and booties get hung to dry. I have two riders worth of clothing to wash.  A quick shower and a nice hot meal and life is good.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Endless Equation of Cyclocross

One of the many things I love about Cyclocross is the continuous problem solving that is required for competitive success.  On the road you have tactics and training. In road racing equipment counts for something (and setting aside tactics) but the person with the stronger legs nearly always prevails.

Cyclocross has a nearly infinite number of inputs. Fitness matters but bike handling skills, equipment selection and preparation and experience play a more important role than perhaps any other cycling discipline.  When you add in the literally infinite combination of courses and conditions the equation enters the realm of calculus.

Go to a track or road race and you will see nearly all of the riders on trainers warming up while sipping their chosen drink mix from a water bottle. At a cross race you may see riders some riders on trainers while others are spraying their bike frames with PAM cooking spray and their drive trains with de-icer before heading to the start line. 

In Cyclocross the topic of tire tread patterns and tire pressure stirs strong emotions and sparks endless debate. The skill set for bike handling on dry grass corners is separate from the skills required to pilot your rig through muddy turns. Knowing when and how to dismount can mean the difference between finishing on the podium and finishing in the pack. 

Each race adds to the saddle bag of knowledge.  It is only through an accumulation of countless, “Whoa, THAT didn’t work” experiences that you begin to gain valuable Cyclocross wisdom.  Sometimes the learning relates to equipment, other times the subject of the lesson is clothing, bike handling, tactics, training or even nutrition.

Much of the learning is counter-intuitive and must be actively implemented to become habit. Shifting your weight on the bike to corner faster only comes with practice and time.  Trusting your tires to stick takes a faith that does not come naturally. Continuing to pedal as you approach a corner even though you know you will be braking in a fraction of a second seems pointless until you do it in a race.  

When the pros are racing I try to watch and learn from every aspect of the event.  I’ll talk to the pro mechanics before the race to gain some equipment tips.  I will watch what the pros are wearing when they warm up as well as when they race and take note of all the little things.   Watching a pro ride with a rear fender during warm up laps to keep the wet mud off his butt inspired me to drop $13 on a clip on fender.

I’ll use a different lube on my chain for early season races when the courses are dry and a thicker lube when the conditions turn muddy. I’ll try and anticipate the conditions and bring the proper tires.  I study the photos of the pro bikes to spot things like using a section of old inner tube to keep water from entering my frame at the seat collar.

I am generally happy to dispense what I have learned with friends and teammates. A couple years ago I had another rider dismiss my suggestions.  He was convinced running his tires at 65-75 psi was the way to be fast.  I thought back on the price I had paid to gain my knowledge.  The races where the bumps had almost knocked my teeth loose and the off camber at Evergreen Elementary where anyone running over 34psi in their tires slid out. I knew I was right but he didn’t want to listen.

I looked at the newbie and his dangerous combination of enthusiasm and over confidence.  I couldn’t deny him the learning experience that was waiting for him.

“Go get ‘em,” I said, smiling.   

Monday, October 21, 2013

MFG #4 Magnuson Park Race Report and Photos 2013 Cyclocross

Photos of everyone else can be found at Spotshot !
No Mud Today !
Last week was so hard that only half of my teammates who braved the misery of Tall Chief showed up this week for a follow up pain treatment. Guy, Feral Dave, Seph and Mr. T. all leveraged their wisdom and/or schedule conflicts to avoid this week’s allotment of suffering. The race this week was challenging but did not necessitate Davo digging into Evo’s Big Book of Adjectives in order to relate the experience.

Once again we had a pre-dawn departe’.  The venue and race this week was a “compare and contrast” exercise.  This week and last week were similar in that both were in foggy/cloudy conditions. It seems like weeks since we’ve seen the sun. While it didn’t rain for either race, the ground was wet with morning temperatures below the dew point. Both courses featured lots of grass and were, at their heart, power courses. The temperatures were again cold enough that after finishing you had to change quickly to beat the onset of hypothermia.

There were other aspects that were starkly different than last week. We covered almost twice as much distance in the same amount of time.  This race took place at an urban lakeside park complete with modern buildings and modern art. Last week’s race was off in the sticks and even the moss was old.  Last week featured lots of smooth (albeit slow) grass and this week the grass was bumpy and there was pavement, gravel and cement to round out the course. 

Despite being a power course, last week’s event rewarded bike handling skills and Cyclocross race experience. This week required only a minimal skill set.  
Evo whistling while he works.....  using minimal skills
Where last week was muddy, this week the course was fast and generally dry.  By the end of the day the grass in some of the corners was getting pretty mulched, but there were no wheel-eating bog-like conditions.  Our bikes were still recognizable at the conclusions of this week’s festivities whereas last week mud hid your bike’s identity. Last week the course favored runners and this week only required you to unclip to step over barriers.

Last week we were in the bottom of a valley and the fog felt like a lid closing the valley walls around you.  This week featured a small hill that would have afforded views were it not for the low clouds and fog that kept the sky a nondescript flat grey.

Last week tent set up was haphazard and this week our tent locations were controlled with an iron fist. I’m not advocating one approach over the other, I’m just pointing out the contrast.

The temperature wasn’t supposed to reach ten degrees C (50 degrees F for my imperial friends) all day so we brought along a heater.  We didn’t bring just any heater, we brought Mr. Heater.  We had a strong showing of juniors and when they weren’t racing their lack of body fat had them gathered in front of the heater not unlike the way men gather in front of a TV to watch a football game.
El Jefe’ brought some Fuel Coffee and we were darn glad he did.

My build up to the race was also different than last week.  I had a good week of training including a Thursday Thrilla. On the Thrilla I felt like I could hit the power when I wanted and was feeling strong. I did, however, also spend a chunk of my Saturday working in my yard moving and stacking firewood, cutting grass and raking leaves.  As a result of the yard duty my back was aching Saturday night and felt only slightly better Sunday at race time.

My warm up was slightly better than last week.  I had a decent starting position as well.  Last year for this race I was tired from racing the day before at Wooley Cross and remember my legs feeling heavy on the first lap. 

As this year’s edition got underway the outside of my right quad revealed a sore spot that I had never felt in a bike race before. If you have ever bruised your thigh by crashing into something and then felt it during exercise you can understand the feeling.  I still have no idea what caused this, but it hurt.  After the race I rubbed the area and sure enough, there was a lump about the size of half a hot dog.  Oh well, I thought, something is always going to hurt.
Rolling on cement
After the initial curvy grassy section we approached the first of four long power sections where I had historically done very well. As I approached I was counting down in my mind as I prepared to ramp up my effort, “ready…set…go....Ah shit!” I had no power.  Between my back and my quad my accelerations would be pretty poor today. 

 “Time for plan “B,” I thought to myself. Then I settled in and spun my way toward the back of the course. “Okay, ride steady and smart,” I thought to myself.

Unclip, run up and over some steps on a fifteen foot hill, remount and then down and back up again.  
Up, up and away..
Then a left turn on to the only corner you had to pay attention to and then you were on the second long power section.  
If I pass you, this is what it looks like !!
This led to the sustained climb (the third power section) and then a loose gravel descent and onto the starting/finishing straight (the final power section) and you had completed a lap.

On the second lap, as we sorted ourselves out, I noticed Spinner John who had been sidelined with a shoulder injury, behind me by about fifteen seconds. His eyes were bulging with his jaw jutting forward. While I am sure he would deny it, he was flogging himself to move up.  If ever there was a day I was vulnerable today was the day and if ever there was a course that favored a less technical power rider this was it.  
Spinner John chasing
Today was John’s big chance.  Please don’t tell him.  Really I'm serious, don't tell him.
More me.
On my Thursday Thrilla I had ridden with too little pressure in my tires and had to alter my riding style to avoid getting a pinch flat.  In this race I had to alter my riding style from power accelerations and late braking to flowing and spinning.  When I saw four laps to go I was feeling the rip tide on the power sections as I was losing ground to other riders.  I usually am passing people during this stage of the race and it was disheartening to get passed by some fast young Cat 4’s.  Despite my lack of power the gap to Spinner John seemed to be growing slowly.  A review of my lap times in the evening on STRAVA would yield remarkably consistent lap splits.

When I see one lap to go I am always happy. In addition to meaning that I will be done soon, it means I didn’t get lapped.  I can always suck it up for one more lap.  I did all I could on the power sections and my sore spots prevented me from hitting my max heart rate as I usually do. Spinner John finished nearly a minute behind me but was glad to be back mixing it up.
Go Evo Go !!
I spent much of Sunday evening working The Stick over my tender right quad.  Monday morning found me tired and my triceps inexplicably sore.  I bike commute to work on Mondays and count that as a nice pair of recovery rides.  It is always a bit of a treat to enjoy an easy ride after putting in a hard effort on Sunday.  As I replayed my race in my head on the way in I could not help but think on the complexities of the problem of Cyclocross.