Monday, November 16, 2009

Ah, The Joy

Only in the sick & twisted mind of a cyclocross racer would a day spent in the snow & mud at 30 degrees bring such a beaming smile to anyone.

Sunday's Boulder Cyclocross Series race # 4 at my "home" course at the Xilinx campus was once again the kind of day you love to see for a cross race,  but we really get so little of here in sunny & dry Colorado.   Cold temps,  7 inches of melting snow and the sweet courses that can be run at Xilinx combined for a stellar day of play in the goop.

Had gone down to Bear Creek Lake park for the ICCC race on Saturday morning,  but ended up only doing the tandem race down there.  Video and the rest of the story for that day will be coming soon.  That was just the prelude to the main event for me,  the return of the mudbogs.  This was in my "plan" to come into the day at the end of a pretty hard week,  and was planning on trying to get in at least 3 races over the weekend to help address my end of race fade issues leading up to my big mid to back of pack finishes planned for states and "nationals".  Given that and after getting over to the race early for Kirk's 35+ Open race,  I signed up for the back to back fun of the 35+4s and the 45+ Open races.   Warming up and course inspection showed that it was going to be a GREASY day,  staying smooth and keeping rubber & carbon UNDER you the whole day was going to be both hard to do,  and very important to doing well.

After lining up and getting the (poor) call up that my 48th place in BCR deserves,  and thanks to the Cat 4 effect of all the fast people moving on & up,  I still found myself sitting in the second row,  ready to slide about the course.   The start was pretty sketchy,  even with just less than 60 guys (The weather & road conditions had it's effect on the field sizes...) lined up.   The sweeping Right turn 100 Meters after the start seemed a bit too much for the handling skills of some,  and after most of the first 20 or so guys all seemed to try and funnel into the same 5 feet on the very right side of the road in a multi pitched howl of squealing brakes and rubbing shoulders,  everyone managed to emerge on the straight run up the paved hill in one piece & still upright.   The Chaos on the inside had opened a reasonable hole up the left,  and pushing into the pavement exit into the first glop let me get up into the top 15 for the first trip thru the "woods" much nearer to the front that I have been used to.

The "woods" section was a slick off camber traverse into a sweeping right hand drop to a rideable log,  thru a muddy left hander,  twist thru the trees and then to 10 feet of sidewalk.  Thru a dip and up a VERY slick,  off-camber traverse up to a bigger log (most ran this one..) and then thru that trademark "ditch" at the top,  before slithering out to the pavement.  Quick jaunt across the upper parking lot,  then across the muddy field to the fast and slimy descent down to the lower field,  including the nice off-camber rise over the drainage structure before dumping you out in the increasingly soggy lower field.  Lots of twisty, soggy,  draggy mud in the filed,  and a couple more good off-camber sections brought you back to the pavement and the joy of climbing back up to the woods again.

With all the snow out of the "singletrack" mud path,  after the first lap,  most of the passing seemed to be going on on the paved climb,  and the draggy mud was stringing things out pretty quick.  After a few guys came by in the second lap,  I seemed to be hanging out behind the front "group" and in front of a group of 4-5 a bit behind me.  I was trying to NOT go flat out the whole time,  and had "sat in" a bit early in lap 2,  before actually passing a couple going up the hill and getting out into no-mans land.  With about 2 to go,  most of the pesky group behind me had bridged up and went by on the hill.  One shot off,  never to be seen again,  but I was able to actually pass back the other 3 going back into the mud.    While I was busy patting myself on the back for pulling that move off,  the rest seemed to just sit on and let me suffer at the front,  as they all seemed to still be right there in the lower field.   By this point,  I was not being nearly as smooth as the first few laps,  and shed no one in the twists & off-camber stuff.    This strategy seemed to set all three of them up PERFECTLY,  as they all came bolting by me in the last straight grass/snow section,  leaving me flailing around trying to stay with them to the pavement.   Of course,  my non-sprinter legs had no answer to such end of race sillyness,  and I watched them all contest a sprint up the road without me.   Knew it was close to that "coveted" 20th place and the last of the Points,  so I was a bit bummed to let three guys get by me in the last 500 Meters.   Turns out I was barely there,  snagging my second 20th of the year,  and that single point (apparently,  pointS is not really in my vocabulary...).

So after basking in the glory of that finish for literally seconds,  gasping for a few breaths,  and not even getting to trash talk any of the guys I knew in the race,  I grabbed a fresh jersey,  number,  took a swig of pre-race drink and rolled back for another race.   About this time,  I realized that doing 2 races was a pretty stupid thing to do.  Sitting on the back row of the 45+ with 30 seconds to go,  I was getting twinges of a cramp in my quad.  That did not seem like a good way to start a race.  Soon enough,  there was a whistle,  and we were off (again).  Either I was a lot slower for the second start,  of the 45+ open guys are a lot faster,  as I was pretty much dead last up the hill into the woods.  Thankfully some of the guys in the back were not handling the mud that well, and after a couple of laps,  I had insured that I was NOT going to be DFL by picking off a couple of stragglers.  After that,  everything was a haze of sore arms,  gasping,  and rapidly deteriorating bike handling skill.  Thankfully,  my driving held out long enough to get pulled just before getting lapped by the leaders on their run in to the finish.  I was pretty much praying that the officials were not going to want to wait around another 10 minutes just for the last few of us to waddle about the course again.  Thankfully they put me out of my misery a lap early.  29th out of 31 finishers,  and did not get truly lapped.  Pretty happy with that for 2 back to back races.  And yes,  doing 2 races back to back is one of the dumber things I have dreamed up in quite a while.

Some tasty race burritos and a few beers waiting for Kirk to get his second race in with the 3's ended the day off well.   Is it a rule that anyone pitting for someone HAS to bring beers to the pit?  If not it should be.

Now for an "easy" week,  and am planning to skip the upcoming weekend races as rest for the "final tune up" going into the States and the trip to Bend.  Where did the season go?

Video is here for the 35+ Cat 4 races (Pictures & video courtesy of Lisa Robinson,  as usual).    Have some 35+ Open,  55+,  SW 35+ open from sunday coming in a day or so,  as well as some fun "Stoker Cam" footage from the tandem race on Saturday.  My thanks to the people at Xilinx for letting us rip up their beautiful campus.    Enjoy!

Boulder CX #4 - Xilinx  -  SM 35+ cat 4
Lap 1

Boulder CX # 4 Xilinx - SM35+ Cat 4 - Lap 1 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.
Lap 2

Boulder CX #4 - SM35+ cat 4 - Lap 2 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.
Lap 3

Boulder CX series #4 - SM35+ Cat 4 Lap 3 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.
Lap 4

Boulder CX#4 - SM35+ Cat 4 Lap4 from Dale Riley on Vimeo.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting these. Always great to watch what we love to do!

    Mike Steinberg