Monday, November 05, 2007

Fair Hill (Wayne Scott Memorial) 'Cross

Wayne Scott 'Memorial' Cross at Fair Hill
Masters 3/4

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Normally a thorough course inspection to dial in the good lines is one way that I can make up for lack of talent and training time. Learning the best speed and lines through turns, proper tire pressure, and the spots on the course where you can rest or attack is a fun challenge and it can make a big difference in my racing.

However, if time is tight or circumstances dictate you do the best you can with what you have. That was my story on Saturday morning. I arrived in time to get one lap on the track so that it wasn't a complete surprise. On many courses this would have been ok, but on a Tom McDaniel track it's not enough.

The course was outstanding with many technical turns, a soul-draining sand section, and some tricky dismounts to test your CX skills. There wasn't a lot of climbing, but the wind made up for that.

Starting on the front row I got off the line quickly establishing an immediate gap. I kept the lead for a while but I didn't have the course dialed in so I wasn't riding the course all that cleanly. I was slowing for turns where I would normally go a lot faster. Bike driving is usually one of my few strengths but yesterday I couldn't figure out the correct line and speed for many of the turns.

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The chasers caught me, but not before I got the lap 1 prime ($25 cash and a bikereg t-shirt!). That was a nice bonus!

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I settled into second place on the wheel of der Jan. I felt fine since I had stayed within my limit for the start and lap 1. In my mind we were going to work together to establish a gap and then battle it out.

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Then I f-ed it up. Jan gapped me very slightly when I flubbed a turn but I wasn't worried as it was only a gap of a few feet. But then I had to slow for the next turn while he flowed through without touching the brakes.

Now the gap was about 5 seconds. That doesn't sound like much but in a 'cross race that's a real gap! I kept the gap in check for a while until I crashed coming out of one of the horse corrals. I tried to go fast through a loose turn and found myself on the deck. That sucked. Now I was really sketched out about turning my bike. I was choking worse than a rookie pole smoker!

3rd place (course designer Tom McDaniel) passed me and I had a tough next lap as I was frustrated from the fall and my inability to drive my bike! Then a group of 3 caught me...all strong dudes: Roger Masse, John Miller, and Kelly Cline. Behind them there was a big gap. I sat on this group for a while but then 2 of the guys attacked after I messed up yet another turn!

I ~did~ manage to stay with the wily Kelly Cline and we had an intense battle the last few laps! We took turns marking, attacking, and counter-attacking. I was feeling good now, but I was still a little hesitant in some of the turns.

Early in the last lap I got in front and attacked him again and again! I was sprinting out of every turn and letting it all hang out. I figured he would crack, but each time he rode right back to my wheel.

It was going to come down to a sprint and the finishing straight was a short stretch of road out of a tricky 180 degree turn. I wanted to lead it out but he made an agressive (and awesome!) pass just before the last turn. When he came by his rear wheel fishtailed as he avoided a tree but he kept it upright. It was impressive.

I stayed on his wheel out of the 180 but there wasn't enough road for me to even attempt coming around him. I got beat by a strong dude that is also a very smart bike racer. He played me that last lap, but I learned a few tricks in the process. It was excellent racing and yet another reminder of why I love 'cross. Yeah, it hurts, but it's strangely satisfying.

So I finished in 6th, one spot off the podium. That's probably a good thing because I had to head home immediately so I would not have been able to stay for the podium anyway. Jan took another impressive victory. He a strong dude and a great guy. I owe him a thank you for hooking me up with a cup of coffee pre-race. Without that I probably would not have finished the race. 8-)

I'm happy with my race. If I had arrived earlier and gotten more time pre-riding the course and learning the lines like I normally do I would have been a lot more comfortable in the race and perhaps would have been able to stay out front a while longer or at least held onto Jan's wheel. But that's neither here nor there. I'm just glad I was able to get out and race my bike!

Congrats to FSVS and the DCCofD for another first class race. That's two in one season. My hat is off to them. They do a ton for the cyclocross community and it is appreciated.

Next up...I don't know, but I'm racing somewhere this weekend!


Narcissistic, vanity photo spread courtesy of the talented Kevin Dillard!
The other photo links are from Anthony Skorochod.
Thank you to all the photographers out there.

1 comment:

StevenCX said...

I was choking worse than a rookie pole smoker!