Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rainy day

No racing for me yesterday. I'm always up for a nasty mud-fest, but that's ok. I don't think I could handle back-to-back double race weekends right now. I enjoyed a nice rainy day at home with the family. What a nice way to recharge after a hard day of racing.

Lower Allen 'Cross was fun, as usual. The course is always great and I think this year was the best. Hebe worked his magic to design a fantastic track. There were plenty of tricky turns and off-cambers, but many of the turns were opened up allowing you to take them with more speed.
This added a nice risk-reward element to the racing.
More speed through the turns reaped big rewards, as long as you didn't crash. And the more speed you carried the more likely you were to crash. The racing was fast and there were many racers pushing the limits of traction and hitting the deck.

I had one nice crash on a fast off-camber left hander. I'd been taking this one fast in warm-up and the first few laps of the race. I think I got over-confident.

good start, right up there with the big dogs

I had gotten a good start right around top-10 and was in a really nice group with Harshman & Morgan. We had a little gap behind and it was that point in the race where you're trying to grab a little recovery from the start before pushing through to the finish.

rolling in a fast group with friends

I took the same line I'd been taking all morning, but maybe a little faster and I went down without warning, sliding on my left side. I got back up pretty quickly and when I remounted I saw my chain was halfway off of the chainring. Luckily it hopped back on when I pedaled.

This was a fast part of the course and my group was now riding away from me. I don't know why, but this crushed me mentally. I made the cardinal sin of 'cross racing...I started to think!

suffering, drifting backwards, & pondering why???

In 'cross racing, raw aggression and instinct are your friends. Thinking is the enemy. I was thinking about how much I was hurting. I was thinking about how much I wanted to just do a long, mellow ride in the woods on my new singlespeed. I thought about how it would have been nice if I'd just stayed home and made pancakes with my family. I thought about how many guys were going to pass me that lap. Auer, Fort James, and Wes all yelled encouragement and I felt bad that I was sucking so bad.

Eventually I got pissed off and started racing again. I just put my head down and tried to block out the pain. My only focus was on turning the pedals. Pissed off is a good state of mind for 'cross racing! 8-)

head down and racing again

I ended up re-passing a number of guys and managed to ride cleanly the rest of the way. I had a pretty good duel with Zack Blaser the last couple of laps. We traded spots a few times and he led it out coming up the gravel finishing straight. I was on his wheel, but once again didn't have a sprint. I think it's mostly mental...I just need to get hungry and be more aggressive at the finish. I was too willing to concede a place.

I finished up in 18th, which I'm happy about. There was a point in the race where I was going backwards and questioning whether I would even do any more races this year. I easily could have faded way back or even DNF'd, but I pushed through the negative thoughts and kept on racing. If I had given up I'd be really bummed right now.

The MAC B's are tough, as always. From top to bottom the racing is intense. I had a shot at flirting with the top 10 again, but a crash and mental weakness cost me. I really want to put together at least one race this year where I ride strongly and cleanly from start to finish.

This weekend I'm doing the double in New Hope, PA. I have no idea what to expect from the courses, but I know the racing will be hard...and fun. The weather forecast calls for rain all week so I'll probably get to enjoy a couple of nasty mud-fests after all.

*photos courtesy of Gina Harshman

No comments: