Ah, the true joy of racing cyclocross at 9000 feet above sea level.
Frisco was the first stop on the Colorado Cross Cup campaign for the 2011 season on Saturday. I chose to attend almost on habit, and on the VERY outside chance of picking up some cup points for the remainder of the cup races. Now, Frisco has always dealt up to me a bit of humble pie on extra large plate. Of course this year was NO different.
After a two week lead in that featured a nice head cold/Bronchitis outbreak and a fine DNS at Xilinx, I was in prime shape for a course that is as hard as that little bugger up there. At least I was no longer actively sick for this start. A beautiful day, with blue skies and great aspen gold everywhere, distracted you from the impending suffering.
Thanks to the officials removing all the upgraded folks, my 60-something-ish final result from Colorado Cross Cup last year allowed me to make the last of the call-up list, netting me a 3rd row start in a 70 ish rider field. Of course, with the route starting up a tour de france "beyond-catergory" climb, I knew any advantage would not last long, and it didn't. (OK, OK, it's really not that big of a hill, but it does not do any favors for watt-challenged folks like myself.....)
By the top of the start hill, I had accomplished 2 notable things. One, gone hard enough to be light-headed, dizzy, and not really sure where I was, and two, lost like 20 spots in the line. Pretty much my normal way to start at Frisco. My first 2 laps were a blur of light-headed gasping, as my sickness addled lungs refused to do their job. Every hill or power grass section was a blur of slow motion progress & random bodies riding by. Finally, going into the third lap, I started to feel more like my normal self, and arrested the pack-sliding, even starting to move back up a bit.
Got into an "epic" 3-way battle with Rich of Frites & Mayo fame, along with an ICCC guy, duking it out to fill out the top 50 spots. Spent the rest of the race in the following back & forth battle:
- Get passed like I was standing still on the paved climb by Mr. ICCC.
- Work myself into a hypoxic dizzy spell trying to remain vaguely in contact with ICCC guy.
- Fly down the "woodchipper" descent & catch Mr. ICCC.
- Hear Rich come back up to us on said descent.
- Pass Mr. ICCC before the loose drop into the softball field.
- Fight to hold any gap across the grass.
- Rich & I drop ICCC guy in lower technical bits.
- Rich comes right up on my shoulder on the run-up.
- AND Mr. Comes flying by on the climb.... again.
This continued long enough that we even got into talking about it on the climb....
Mr. ICCC - " Leapfrog again here..."
Me - "See you on the descent"
Anyway, the good thing for me was I had enough left to gas it a little on the last technical section and run-up, and into the pavement on the last lap, sprinting in for a blazing 49th place to "make the top 50" (out of 68 finishers...). my normal "performance" at Frisco. Only 30 places out of the points. Whee.
While I usually am pretty focused in a race, probably to the point of pure suffering tunnel vision most of the time, Every once in a while I might see or hear something in a race. One of my teammates has been known to "drift off" in his concentration in races, up to the point of asking things like "did you see that hot mom on the back side?" or some such. Usually I see nothing but what is going on right around me. THIS time, they managed to say something on the PA that broke right thru my mid-race haze of suffering. Apparently, hearing "free Beer" on PA can get my attention at almost any level of suffering.
The HPM team did a lot better than I did, putting 2 guys in the top 20 and the Cup points for the 35+ 4s for this season. Good ride there, on a HARD course. I decided to make SURE I blew all the junk out of my lungs, and get a hard day in before the USGP weekend, and TRIED to pull a double, racing the 45+ race as well. THAT did not go too well, and after battling my way out of DFL on the first lap, I actually quit a race, just because it was "too hard". I was beginning to feel my hip/back locking up, and with the leaders closing in with 2 to go, pulled the plug on THAT brilliant idea. Also was having the minor issue of getting so goofy in the last laps that I was not able to really drive the bike anymore. Crashing or re-injuring myself seemed like not a good thing at this point in the season, so I stopped by the officials and pulled myself early.
Next weekend is a week of lower level goals. Racing 45+ both days at the Ft. Collins USGP leads to only one goal for me.... Don't get Lapped. Shall see if that is realistic. Should be fun to see all the big guns up there, showing us hacks how it REALLY should be done.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, this weeks Video Collection.
SM35+4 - Seatpost Cam - all of Lap 1
SM35+4, Laps 1-4 in various places
SM45+ Laps 1 and 2
SW Open and SW35+
SM55+ Start and Lap 1