Friday, October 06, 2006

Rainy Day Blues and Racing Cross

I started this post Friday but never finished it. Friday was a shitty day, the fact that it was Friday was the only good part about it. The constant rain and feeling run down was no way to go into the racing weekend.

We hung out with Cynthia, Sean, Sean's B-in-Law Joerg and her friends Friday night for a bonfire and smores. The skies had cleared up and I started thinking Saturday's race was going to be a good mud-fest but not a soaker. Well, come Saturday morning we awoke to pouring rain, even worse than Friday. I loaded up Special Sauce and got Gina out the door (on time and in the car promptly at 9am, that was my big win for the day). She's a trooper though, I wouldn't have wanted to go out if I were her, I barely wanted to go myself but I like the mud.

As we made our way over the mountains past Fredneck the skies were clear and the roads were dry, so maybe a mud-fest wasn't in the cards. We got to the race venue at the fairgrounds which to my surprise have been converted to a municipal park with soccer and baseball fields. I grew up near Hagerstown and played all of my youth sports in and around the city and spent much time in the emergency room of the Washington Co. hospital for everything from sprained ankles and a broken collar bone to anaphylactic shock (that shit can kill you as I almost found out).

Any hoo, we arrived early enough that I got to pre-ride before the masters race. The course was rather short and not anything special. I returned to the car after 3 laps to find that I managed to break off the handle to my trainer with the car door making it impossible to tighten the wheel so I was forced to warm-up on the roads around the fairgrounds.

The race was staged at the top of the course on a long stretch of pavement. The Killer B field was about 45 riders. Instead of giving us the entire 200m of pavement to sort out the start before the 180 switchback onto the grass, Joe gave us a whole 50m, you do the math. Close to 50 guys trying to make a 180 degree turn at the same time, I stayed towards the front middle figuring 3 wide would work but not get pushed too far outside and not be too far inside to get pinched. Needless to say some jackass comes flying on the inside, can't make the turn and rides straight across the turn into the middle of the field, and right in front of me. Both feet unclipped I'm waddling uselessly down the course to try and get around. From top 10 to barely top 20. Great start.

Yeah, that's me there in the center standing unclipped so Jocko can get turned and heading in the right direction.

About all I've come to learn so far from racing this season is 1) My starts are horrible and 2) that I make the worst faces and Gina is always there to snap a shot.

My "barrier" face...

My standard "race face of pain"...

My "off-camber, don't dump it" face...

And my favorite, the "this run-up is totally ridable 11 times" face.

Anyway, this course was as much mental as it was physical. Surprisingly, at race pace the course was very technical and fun. It was short with alot of turns so you could always see the front of the race around the next turn. The hard part was closing the gaps. Towards the end I was riding with Mike O'Hare and Mark Russel swapping positions back and forth. On the past lap I was leading going into the second set of barriers when I totally flubbed it and lost my concentration re-grouping on the other side. Both got around me and I just couldn't catch back on. Another top 20 but not what I was looking for this weekend.

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