Sunday, October 10, 2004

Hagerstown Breast Cancer Awareness 'Cross

AVC Breast Cancer Awareness 'Cross Posted by Hello
Saturday, October 9, 2004

B race, 45 minutes, ~9 laps

The Course

After a short paved section of maybe 50 meters the course turned left onto the grass for two more slick left hand turns around a set of tennis courts. Then there was a sharp right hander that led into a single barrier.

Once you remounted you had to make a hard left before the course bent back to the right and up a sidehill rise. The grass here was bumpy and after a few seconds there was a left that led you onto the hardest part of the course, a relatively long grassy rise. The pitch was very gentle, but the bumps and grass demanded power to maintain speed.

At the top you made a 180 degree turn around a tree before a short descent led into a sharp right and a short, but steep climb. The promoters had hoped for this to be a run up, but the dry conditions made riding it pretty easy.

After traversing the top of the climb on an off camber you dropped back down to a 180 degree gravel turn. This was tricky and really forced riders to come almost to a stop before making the turn and accelerating up a double track grass and gravel road.

At the top of the hill the course veered left down a grassy hill and stayed fast with a couple of flat left bends before hitting a hard right gravel turn that dumped you onto a paved path and the finishing straight of road.

This was a fast course with laps in the 5 minute range give or take a bit.

The course was very fun, but could have used a few more technical characteristics to slow things down and reward technique. They could have used the hill a little better with some more off camber routing or a barrier at the base to force a run up. With that and maybe another barrier to create a double the course could become a favorite with a good mix of power, speed, and technical difficulties.

Overall, congrats to the AVC team for putting on a very fun and well run race!

The Race
I was second wheel after the start and stayed there over the barrier and onto the gradual grassy climb. The rider on the front peeled off leaving me on the front. Instead of just pulling the whole group I attacked up the hill and stayed solo with a small gap until the start of lap 3.

My goal was not to stay away solo the entire race but to string out the field and create a select group to decide the race. The attack and speed of the first couple of laps served that purpose as the field was strung out all over the course with smaller groups of riders working together.

A chasing group of 4 caught me at the start finish and I swung wide to let a Coppi guy get on the front. He drove the pace and carried a lot of speed into the slippery and off camber turn 2. Unfortunately he went down hard and all I could do was run into him and flip over the bars and onto the grass.

My bike was tangled up and my bars had slipped down a little. While I got my bike sorted out those 4 took off. I spent the next several laps with the 4 in front at a stable gap and a group of about 8 (including a couple of teammates) chasing behind me. The gaps between the groups remained static until finally a YBR rider (Mark Laser, I think) attacked out of the chase and made it up to me.

He took a strong pull for half a lap and then I took over at the start line with 2 laps to go. Our combined efforts paid off as we reach the leading 4 early in that lap. We caught them just before the barrier and I was pretty stoked at that point, feeling good and ready to attack the group to take a shot at the win.

I carried a lot of speed into the barrier to get to the front of the group. I got over the barrier smoothly, but let my bike bounce on the remount and the chain jumped off the big ring onto the crankarm and wrapped around the pedal. I had to get back off and untangle the mess which let the 5 other guys ride away. That pissed me off since it was my own sloppiness that had caused the malfunction.

I dug hard and tried to get back up there but the group had just enough of a gap. The 5th guy faded off the back of the lead group and I caught him as we got the bell. I knew he was suffering since he had put in some huge efforts to even make it to the leaders so I attacked him after sitting on for just a few seconds. I got the gap immediately and drove it hard the last lap in hopes of catching one of the first four if they made any mistakes, but they stayed away with the Coppi rider winning the sprint.

I rolled across the line for 5th. It was frustrating because I knew I could have won the race but another rider's crash cost me early and then after giving it everything to catch back up to the leaders I got sloppy and bounced the bike. However, this race gave me a lot of confidence since I was able to really push it hard all race and not blow up. I was riding faster than the 4 guys up front that were drafting and working together. If I had stayed up there I know I could have attacked and had an excellent chance to stay away for the win.

However, in the end I'm very happy with the race. Before the season I really just wanted to be competitive in the B's and finish mid-pack. Though I know there will be tougher races with deeper fields I have already exceeded my expectations and therefore have found a new level of confidence that should help me in races to come.

No comments: