Monday, October 24, 2005

granogue

another early start on saturday for the drive up to granogue for the wooden wheels cyclocross but the 'C' race had a relatively leisurely 10am start, and i was there in plenty of time. took a walk around to try and get a look a the course and ran into marc & buddy who pointed out some of the "features" on the course then got checked in and headed back down to the car to get ready and get warmed up and take a couple of laps on the course...

the course was wet, slippery, and full of off-camber turns and roots... 2 run-ups, the second with a set of barriers at the start, but both had good flat to downhill remounts so hopefully they wouldn't hurt me too badly. the hardest part of the course was a series of sweeping off camber turns on the side of the hill that sent you along the contours for a way and then forced you to turn sharply up the hill and then back down and were already getting torn-up before the racing started.

managed to snag a spot near the outside of the 2nd row in the starting grid. buddy was lined up on the singlespeed mountain bike, thom moore and kevin dillard were over on the other side, fort james was in the 2nd row with me, syd lea was on the inside of the front row. the start went well... the field was big, almost 50 riders, and i went just hard enough to be in the front group as we hit the grass -- probably around 8th - 10th place --and then started picking off riders one by one. after a about a 1/4 of a lap i realized that there were only 2 riders ahead, a pair from east coast velo. i caught up to them just before we got to the climb to the water tower and decided to just try and stick with them for a while, at least untill we knew how many laps we'd be doing. if they were smart and stuck together they'd have an advantage on the road sections and i didn't see any need to try and attack on the first lap.

as we were descending down the water tower hill (evil slick off-camber turns mentioned above) the lead rider of the pair ahead turned to early and got caught in the course tape and his teammate either followed him of just got caught behind him. i rode around them and started to push a little harder to take advantage of their mistake. can't remember if i made it around the evil hairpin on the first lap, but by the time i got to the barriers i was on my own and starting to build a gap. came through the start/finish and didn't see any lap cards out, not a good sign, but from the comments coming from friends on the course it sounded like i was building a pretty good cushion.

on the 2nd lap i tried to stay smooth and ride smart. the ecv riders were close enough behind that i could still see them from time to time but i had a pretty consistent gap, then, on the evil turn i slipped sideways... i got off and ran a couple of steps to the top of the turn and then remounted, only to realize that my chain had come off... i coasted to the bottom of the hill, then fumbled around for a few seconds trying to get my chain back on... not having any luck and knowing that the barriers were up ahead anyway i picked up the bike and ran over the barriers and up the short hill after them, then stopped again and got my chain sorted out... after this run-up there was a good fast downhill section with a couple of nice semi-technical turns that i could ride smoothly but might have slowed down the non-mountain bikers (thanks marc, this was your part of the course, right) so i was able to get some speed and try to save my lead.

coming up to the finish i heard two things, one worrying, and the other the sweetest sound in a cyclocross race... the first was some chatter from the announcer about another rider bridging up to, and then passing the chasers - if he was doing that he might be able to catch me as well, the second was the bell, one lap left.

managed to keep the bike moving for one last lap around the course... almost got caught up in the tape on the first run-up (thanks for the heads up susan) and had to keep the pace high as the chasers were still uncomfortably close and the mystery rider was now ahead of the 2 east coast velo riders and probably gaining on me. the climb up to the water tower hurt a little more this lap and i ended up running a couple of steps at the top of the evil turn. at the bottom of the barriers/2nd run-up i could hear some fans cheering on the rider behind me and as i was getting back on the bike he was jumping the barriers and looked like he was running the hill faster than i did (note to self: practice running with the bike and work on shouldering the bike instead of pushing it) so i kept the pace up and pushed hard on the road untill about 20 yards before the start/finish and managed to cross the line for the win. 2nd place (don yungher from rutgers) came in about 15 seconds later, then the pair from ecv almost 25 seconds after him. buddy took 6th, fort james (fort-gpoa) came in in 10th, kevin dillard (ncvc) 13th...

thanks to everyone (susan, pooch, dave, marc, chris, etc...) that yelled out advice and encouragement, this was my first win ever in any kind of bike race and every bit helped... special thanks to my philly cheering section for some extra motivation...

time to try a 'B' race?

6 comments:

Rob said...

Wait... what just happened?

rickyd said...

Awesome! Won't be long before someone labels you a "sandbagger". ;)

fatmarc said...

great job. it was a tough day you did awesome. Your face coming out of my island on the last section was awesome. Ear to Ear grinning...

mad respect
m

Chris said...

Yeah, time to try a B race. You were flying out there and looking very smooth on the tricky stuff. You'd definitely hold your own in the B's. Great job on the win!

Tom said...

That was a good writeup. You had me on the edge.
Congrats

Anonymous said...

Congratulations, Joe. I'll assume you celebrated with a frosty beverage post-race.