Monday, September 13, 2010

Nittany Lion Cross

I decided last minute to drive out to Allentown, PA for the first UCI cross race of the season. There wasn't too much going on around here, so I figured I could make it a quick in and out trip and hopefully get a decent result to kick off the year.

I left early Friday morning and got to the venue around 6:30 that evening, with just enough time to do some laps before dark. Pretty similar course to last year, and pretty straight forward. I grabbed a bite to eat and set up my accommodations for the evening, the back of my car. May sound terrible, but it really wasn't bad at all. A Grocery Getter with the seats down makes for an ideal "cheap hotel". With not much in the way of entertainment in my "room", I was asleep early and awake even earlier. If I wasn't already a loser for sleeping in my car, I definitely solidified my loser status by getting a "table for one" at Panera for breakfast. I took my sweet time at breakfast and was back to to venue by 10am.

The promoter was nice enough to not leave the UCI races for the last races of the day, so we were racing at 1:15. I was nervous. Seriously nervous. I always get pretty keyed up before the first race of the year, but I think I put quite a bit of pressure on myself just because I had driven all the way out there for 1 hr of racing, so it had better be a good hour. I was fine once the gun went off, but I was mess on the inside before hand.

I got a good start and slotted into 4th wheel. I just wanted to get a lap under my belt with no mishaps. Before I knew it we had a little gap and there was a group of 5 or 6 of us, with another equally sized group not far behind. Adam Myerson, Luke Keough, Valentin Scherz, his other Swiss teammate, plus me. This was the group I wanted to be in. Once we settled in the pace was pretty tolerable, so I decided to test the waters with small attack. It got rid of Scherz's teammate, but it was too early for me to try to go away alone and no one really wanted to work. Scherz was waiting for his teammate, Myerson didn't mind a group sprint and Keough fancied a sprint as well, so I didn't have much in the way of allies for keeping the pace up.

A few laps later I tried again and this time I dropped my chain shortly after I gave it a go. I couldn't believe it. I probably let out a few expletives, but I couldn't believe that the chain decided to drop now. I probably had 5 or 6 hours of riding on that bike in race like conditions, and the chain decided to come off NOW???

I surprisingly kept my composure and got the chain fixed quickly and chased the front group down within the next half lap. Then it came off again in the wooded/rooted section. It looked like the chain keeper had come loose and moved away to where it wasn't doing it's job at all. I spent the next few laps trying to baby it through the rough sections and still make up time. I eventually dropped my chain 4 times, the last one being with 1.5 laps to go. The legs still felt decent, but I had fallen all the way back to 11th. I chased my ass off and finally caught back on with just under a lap to go, but when it came time for the final throw down, I just didn't have enough left and pretty much had to watch the sprint from the back of the group.

5th place and 10 UCI points is noting to scoff at, but I couldn't help but think what could have been if I didn't have to waste so much effort making up for my mechanical issues, I'd like to think a podium at the very least. Coulda shoulda woulda, I know. Lucky for me I have another chance at redemption this coming weekend when Mike and I head out to Baltimore for two more UCI C2's.

I made it back to Bloomington late sat./early sun. morning and after a night's rest I decided I'd rather do a local cross race and potentially win a little cash, than go out and train hard by myself. I made the relatively short drive south the the Huber's Apple Cross near Louisville KY and was able to beat my head against the wall for a solid 60 minutes and come out with my first win in a bike race in way too long. Thank god for cyclocross.

CX Magazine Write-Up


Mike Sherer said...

Keep it up bro. Going to be a good season for you.

Kyle J said...

Nice work! Hopefully you had your computer out at Panera so it looked like you were a businessman already hard at work...

Anonymous said...

Hey Ryan...if you are headed out east, you are always welcome to stay at my place. Live in Carlisle, near Harrisburg, PA....Good luck this season. Dan.