Thursday, October 28, 2010

Downeast Cyclocross

Friday 6:00 am- up and getting ready for school
7:45 am - The first class of the day begins
3:15pm - Done with work, jump in the car, drive to Portland
7:00 pm- Get into the airport and check in for flight, get some food, try and take a nap.
9:00 pm - Flight departs for Newark - try and sleep on plane
Saturady 5:45 am - Arrive Newark - try to sleep for two hours on the floor of the airport
7:45 am - Leave Newark for Portland ME
9:00 am - Arrive Portland ME - Run around, get bike, get food, pack lunch, check over bike, pack gear, head to race course.
12:00 - Arrive at race course, warm up, pre-ride, change.
3:00pm - RACE!

I had decided a couple months back to take some miles that were about to expire and visit my family in Maine as well as sneak in some racing in a couple UCI races back east. I knew this would be difficult with my teaching schedule and only being able to get one extra day off. It wasn't meant to be a point hunt as I had no illusions about being in the top ten of these races with some seriously fast guys. Regardless, I wanted to go out and race in New England, visit my family, and see what the scene was in Maine.

Driving to the course brought back memories of New England falls. Colorful foliage, the rocky Maine coast, beautiful farms, stone walls, old historic houses all greeted us as we drove. Arriving at the course on Sat I was excited, I felt tired, but seemed like I had some energy. It was clear, sunny, beautiful, and just a little bit windy. The course was great, twisty, technical, and fast. There were lots of tight banked turns, off camber corners on slick grass, and quick power sections that required accelerating into more twisty turns. I followed other riders around a few pre-ride laps and then just stayed warm on the trainer.

A good call up position found me in the second row. The gun went off and I missed clipping much for my start position, people were streaming past me. I got on the gas, chased my position back, the first lap was chaos, everyone was together, elbows were out, pushing in all the tight corners, trying to sneak around in all the wrong spots. I couldn't relax...I was riding like an idiot, taking too many chances, wasting energy, stressing out, riding the wrong lines, generally spazzing. As the race strung out, I settled down a bit, but most of the damage was done, I was tired, and exhausted both mentally and physically. I found my position and speed that I could stay at and just hung on. It was a little of a shock to the system, but it was a good effort and I was glad to have gotten out, checked out the course, and seen what I was up against.

An early night and a great sleep found me back out at the course on Sun feeling a whole lot more refreshed and ready to race. The weather was a little colder, but less wind, and some clouds. The course had been changed only slightly with some tricky dismounts, but mostly the same. This time I wasn't so lucky with the start position and found myself at the very back. Still, I had a good start and followed some aggressive riders up through the field and into the first corner in a decent position. The first laps were more of the same as the group (with he exception of the front) stayed fairly tight. Every corner seemed to be a battle, I found that I could ride corners and technical sections a lot faster than most folks, but they often had more acceleration and top end speed...I kept yo yo-ing back and forth with riders through technical sections. Eventually I made it through the group I was with and got a gap on a climb up through the woods. I put in a tough lap, rode smart and started to make contact with another group of three in front of me. More of the same, I would catch them in the technical infield and then they would get a gap on me on the more open sections. With two to go I started making passes in the infield, with one to go I was on the front of this group, sitting in the top twenty and happy with where I was and how I was riding. Last lap, I went down the bumpy descent in the woods and as I started to climb out my chain bounced over the top of the chain guard...a few pedal strokes confirmed that I would need to jump off...I got off the bike as fast as I could and got it back on but the group of three behind me caught up just as I was jumping back on. Chase ensued, I managed to catch back and pass one of the group, but that would be my finish position as we rounded the corner and sprinted towards the finish. I was really happy with my race in the end. It wasn't necessarily the result I would have liked, but I raced as hard as I have raced all season and pushed myself to my limit. In the end I felt like I couldn't have gone any harder and that to me is what made it a great race.

Overall, it was a great weekend. It was a crazy amount of travel for a little racing, but I also got to see my family and my little niece which most definitely made it worth it. And as an added bonus on the way home I took a bump and got some $ for flying next time. Not bad.

Stay tuned for some photos. Here's a write up of the race from Sat I did for cyclocross magazine
-a flickr set from day 1
-a flickr set from day 2

Another double race weekend of fun coming up, can't wait for the madness. Check out Serena's and Damian's blogs from their weekend of mud at PIR.

1 comment:

Gary Bonacker said...

Great write up of your races back east. I have never been that far east, but hope to someday. I can see the colors in my head. Continue to do what you do in Astoria. Trick or treat.