Tuesday, January 17, 2012

2012 Masters Worlds

Decided to skip Nationals in Madison and put all of my eggs into one basket for Worlds in Louisville. I wasn't the only one to do this, after looking at the logistics of travel and weather conditions, it had to be one or the other and given this is the first year a cyclocross WC has been held on U.S. soil, well, you get the picture. Next year will be more manageble with Worlds the first weekend in February putting a solid 3 weeks or more in between.

I'll be honest, keeping myself fit and motivated between the last races in NC in mid-December and Worlds a month later was hard, especially with Holidays right in the middle. I may have eaten a few too many cookies. Mike gave me some good workouts but I didn't get the mental relief I really wanted in the time I had off from work to get a solid training block in and be more mentally fresh.

Gina, Maddy and I rolled out of town on Wednesday morning with the plan to spend the night in Huntington, WV to meet up for dinner with her niece and a college friend. That leg of the trip was about 6hrs and Maddy held up pretty well in the car. I was worried traveling with her would be too much stress but she was a champ. Thursday morning we had to get on the road early but not before Maddy got her first breakfast in bed.
All week the weather in Louisville was changing. Earlier on it was calling for 40's and sunny but by the time we left Wednesday, a cold front was bringing rain and cold temps. Word was that the course was a mess and by the time we arrived late Thursday morning it was obvious is was going to be a mudder of a weekend. Got there just before Mike went off for his seeding heat. Early lap times were upwards of 12-15min for a 30min heat that was supposed to be 3 laps. Promoters were obviously expecting dry temps. At the end of the day the course was a rutted mess and word was they were shortening the course to get lap times down but also dropping the seeding heats to 2 laps which was fine by me.

My seeding heat was Friday morning at 9:30 and overnight the temperature dropped into the 20s causing all of the muddy ruts to freeze. A couple of pre-race warm-up laps and I realized it was going to be more of a race of survival. The run-ups were frozen solid and the footholds were just begging to break some ankles, even the sand pit was frozen and unrideable. I had a second row start for my heat and moved up quickly on the pavement but the whole thing just went to hell after the first U-turn heading up the hill towards the barrier sector when some guy crashed into me smashing some very pointy piece of his bike into my right calf. After getting going again I realized I was pretty much at the back of the race and struggled to find a rhythm riding the frozen mud ruts. I basically rode around in survival mode trying to not break anything, myself specifically but managed to crush my rear wheel somewhere along the way. Finished 15th putting myself at least 4th row for the finals.

Saturday started out as a much better day. First, the sun was shining and second I didn't race until 3pm which would hopefully give the course time to thaw and at least be muddy all the way around and much more enjoyable than my heat. Pitted for my teammate Jon in his race at 1 then hustled to get myself together and ready for my race. Didn't really get to warm up as I sent most of my time fixing something on the pit bike or simply getting dressed. On top of that, the skies got cloudy and the temps dropped again but the course was sufficiently muddy but still full of frozen ruts even though the promoters had done a lot of work to re-route parts of the course and groom the worst sectors. Still really bad were the run-ups which were frozen solid but with a mud sheen on them to make them extremely slick.

My forth row start wasn't that bad, moved up on the short paved start into the top 10 but as we made the slight left onto the course, a couple of guys got tangled up and went down hard right in front of me. I grabbed a handful of brakes and scooted left enough to miss the bodies and bikes but had to run over a guy's front wheel that came out of the fork. Thinking this may have been the casue for the crash in the first place, tighten those skewers! This essentially put me back to where I started or further as all I saw was a long line of guys in front of me heading into the first big U-turn on the course and heading up towards the first real choke point at the barriers.

From there on it was chase mode. For having a bad start I was having a blast riding the mud and muck. My tire choice was perfect, the Challenge Limus which hooked up on everything, even the frozen ruts covers in slick mud. Jon and Mike worked the pits and were on top of the bike exchanges. First pit I went out on the Ridley with a Grifo front tire and immediately realized it was useless in those conditions. It took me a few minutes to get used to the handling of the Ridley and the lack of front traction in the fast but slick turns. Jon and mike got the Stevens back to me a half lap later and Jon Put on his Dugast Rhinos. Rolling again with good tread I continued to make up spots I had lost while on the B bike.
On the pit bike with Jon's Rhinos, they hooked up well but I think the Limus ruled the day

Everything stayed together well until the last lap. As I passed the pit one last time and entered a tricky section of frozen ruts before passing under the flyover I hooked the course banner riding a thin line on the far right and got turned sideways. A guy coming from behind slammed into me full speed and his bike went right into my quad. Immediately I thought my leg was broken as I couldn't bear weight on it. I managed to get back on the bike by sliding it underneath me then slowly pedaled one legged the last 1/3rd of the course which also included the treacherous frozen down hill and rock ledge run ups. I probably lost 5min or more in the last section of the race. Ended up rolling across the line 27th, exactly where I had started the day.

Thanks to Gina for supporting me while I go destroy myself for nothing more than personal glory and to my teammates Mike and Jon for working the pits and keeping me rolling.

A few more shots of the races from Gina.
I love this shot of Maddy's head as Jon goes by. It's like she was Photoshopped in.

The stairs (near vertical) of the flyover.

The seemingly vertical ramp on the flyover. Lap 2 of the seeding heat I power slid down this thing, bottoming out may have been what caused my rear wheel to crack.


Anonymous said...

Nice post, Chris.

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