Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Ice Socks... Wha?

That was some seriously un-cyclocrossy weather! The Cincinnati UCI3 Weekend has come and gone and I employed the ice sock tactic at a cyclocross race. Unbelievable.

I seem to forget how hard these 3 day cyclocross weekends are. Stage race hard. So, I was talking to (name drop coming up) Jeremy Powers on Sunday and we decided that this was definitely harder than Joe Martin. You try to do 3, one hour time trials in a row and see how you legs feel. Anyway, it was all in the name of fun and UCI points.

Friday was a new course from last years slog in the mud, but no less brutal. Very, dry, dusty, and some said "mountain bikey". It was one of those courses where you couldn't really ride it easy. With temps in the mid 80's too much time above red-line and there was no coming back from it, the theme for the weekend. I got an uncharachteristicly good start and slotted in 3rd wheel behind Powers and Trebon, exactly where I didn't want to be. I was afraid I'd go too hard, too early, following those two, but the pace wasn't terrible so I decided to follow for a few. Eventually I settled into a group with Chris Jones and Troy Wells, racing for 6th place. We weren't really close to catching anyone, or being caught. I was comfortable for a while, but started feeling it with a few laps to go and went out the back. I was able to ride the last few laps solo and avoid being caught by Jake Wells in 9th. I was toast afterwards, but pleased with the placing.

We stayed at Chris and Kim Chartier's as we do every year for these races and it was awesome, as it is every year. I knew my legs were milked, so I tried to do the "professional" thing and drink water instead of beer and give my body a good shot at recovery.

Saturday was hot and dusty again, but the course had less elevation change and was more wide-open. I spent the time before the race trying to convince myself that my legs felt ok and that they'd be fine once we started racing, and I did a good job of it. I lied. I felt like trash for every second of that race. Not only did I have shit for legs, I had shit for brains. I couldn't seem to hit any of my lines and I felt like I was giving up 10 seconds a lap, in about 5 different spots on the course. It was just one of those days where I couldn't put it together. Group after group spat me out the back until I limped in in 13th place. Bummed, but optimistic for the big C1 on Sunday.

My legs felt infinitely better turning the pedals during warm up for Harbin Park. With all the traffic, the course was disintegrating by the hour and I spent a good amount of time pondering tire selection. I checked the with others and some were riding Mud tires and others, semi-slicks. There was no continuity as to the tread du jour. I Felt like my FMB semi slicks were hooking up well, so I went with them. I decided not to ride the course between the women's race and our race, which in hindsight, may have been a mistake. I got an average start, but I guess I was just far enough back that I felt like I had a million bees buzzing around my head through every corner, so I took to moving up through the first few corners of the course. No sooner than I take the "hot line" through a slippery off-camber corner, I find myself on my ass. Crashed. Chain dropped. Race riding away. I scrambled to right the ship and get to chasing. After one balls-out lap, I found myself in the group racing for 13th. I'm ping-ponging off of riders trying to get through that group and in search of the next targets. Just as I'm about to head out the good end of that group I come up on Derrick St. John at the bottom of the screaming descent with the "g-out" at the bottom. Since I was in kamikaze mode, I didn't touch the brakes. Apparently he isn't familiar with the Ricky Bobby mentality and was just fine with 13th place and taking it easy through that corner. Before I knew it I was on his ass, and soon after that we were rubbing wheels and I was body slamming myself on the fastest part of the course. Perfect.

I ate it hard. While I was going down, I thought to myself; "welp, there goes the collar bone. I can't believe you've done it again." I managed to tuck and roll and avoid breakage, but I had knocked the air out myslef and proceeded to roll around on the ground for a minute, regaining composure. I thought about dropping out, but decided that was for losers (so is finishing 23rd, but less loser-ish than quitting). I found my bike, straightened the bars and shifters and set out riding hard out of anger and desire for gas money.

It was really nice to hear all the cheers for me even though I wasn't preforming well. There are so many awesome supporters in the Ohio Valley and honestly, I didn't want to set an example for all those Red Zone kids that quitting is the thing to do. I was nearly last after the second wreck and managed to make it up to about 19th or 20th, but riding with reckless abandon for an hour caught up with me on the last lap and I gave a few spots back as I limped in.

It's hard to say that the weekend was a failure, because it was so much fun and I managed to get one decent result, but it was nowhere near what I was looking for. I feel like I missed a huge opportunity by letting the C1 points slip away, but as they say, "that's bike racing". I wish I could personally thank everyone who came up to me with something nice to say, or encouraging words during the race, it really means a lot to have such a home field advantage when I get to race a UCI in my area. Thanks to everyone who cheered, regardless of how fast or slow I was going this weekend.

Coming up we've got our OVCX race in Bloomington this weekend, BloomingCross. Barry Wicks is coming down to do a clinic on Saturday at 4 pm and then we're doing a bonfire/party after the clinic. The after the bonfire/party we're taking Wicknasty to Kilroy's for a Jager Bomb, Bear's for a Hairy Bear and Upstairs for an AMF. All the while, I'll be drinking water. Gotta find some way to beat him on Sunday.

See you this weekend!

Thanks to Lyne from Podium Insight for all the photos!