Tuesday, December 02, 2008

MABRA Cross Championships

couple of medals

MABRAcross Championships (and State Championships)
Taneytown, MD
Cold, Wet, Muddy day
HEAVY, slippery track

The story of the day was teamwork.  Everyone pulled through and threw down for their teammates.  It feels really good to be part of such a special and supportive group.

Our main goal for the day was to move Auer into the 35+ Series lead.  Marc Gwadz held a 6 point lead going into the race.  Therefore, we needed Auer to finish at least a few spots ahead of Gwadz.  We felt confident that Auer would have a good race, but we also needed to place some guys ahead of Gwadz...no easy task.

As for the race...

Fatmarc made a strong opening statement by coming from back in the grid to grab the hole shot.  I slipped through a couple of tight spots in the opening series of slippery up and down turns to move up to third wheel, right behind Gunnar.  Marc continued to rip it up front riding the mud with just the right mixture of power and finesse.

Halfway through the first lap Auer made his way to the front and then off the front with Gunnar.  Marc had done such a good job of driving the pace from the start that there was now a slight gap behind us.  He and I rode together for a while with Gwadz just a few seconds back. We pushed it hard knowing that we needed to maintain our positions to give Kris a chance at the series title.

Eventually the effort started to take its toll on me and I made some mistakes (mental: unclipping my low-side foot on a slippery off-camber and physical:  eating shit trying to square off a turn too soon on another slippery off-camber).  As I watched fatMarc continue to ride strongly in front of me I saw that the chasers (Fuentes and Root, with Gwadz just a few seconds behind them) begin to close the gap.

I had been hoping to get enough of a gap that I could cruise it in at a solid, but not puke-enducing pace.  It was now clear that I would have to resort to puke-enducing.  I'll just say that I put everything that I had into the last lap and a half.  I was fading and I looked and felt like shit, but I wasn't going to give up.

I had some friends and teammates cheering around the course and by the tone of their voices and their choice of words on that last lap I could tell that it (I) wasn't looking too good.  Dave Fuentes finally caught up to me just past the pit with maybe a minute left to go.  Luckily it was tight from there to the run-up and through to the ensuing slippery downhill.

I figured that I could keep him behind me until we got to the road, giving me time to recover enough to have a shot in the sprint.  Happily it didn't come down to that.  Just after the run-up I heard a noise just behind me.  It sounded like someone stacking it.  I took a quick peak behind me and sure enough Dave had clipped the telephone pole on the edge of the course.

I put my head down and negotiated the next tricky off-camber cleanly to get onto the road with enough of a gap to make a sprint unnecessary.  After crossing the line the cold and the effort hit me.  I felt like shit and was shivering.

After a celebratory muddy hug with Auer and Vettori I stumbled off to find a way to get dry and warm.  Luckily one of my teammates told me to go see Tom McDaniel.  Tom had his usual pimp compound set up with hot shower and warm changing area.  Tom saved the day!  Huge thank you to Tom McDaniel for the post-race support to combat hypothermia!

So I got cleaned up and changed with Kris, Gunnar, and Jan.  I was even forced to see Gunnar's naked ass, though I understand that many before have had that honor.

In the end we did it.   Auer 1st, Gunnar 2nd, Vettori 3rd, Me 4th.  Jan is more of a fan of a fast, dry track but he still gutted it out for 11th and I think a Delaware Gold Medal.   Kris locked up the 35+ Series.  Kris, Marc, and I swept the 35-39 Gold, Silver, and Bronze for MABRA and Maryland States.  It was a good day for the Elite Masters team and a great day for the team all around.   We won more than a few races and medals.  Good stuff.

Postscript:  I had been fighting a cold since Tacchino and a day slopping around in the cold rain and mud at Taneytown put me over the edge.  Instead of a cold it's a chest infection...outta work Monday & Tuesday, cold sweat at night, hacking up brown sludge from my chest.  Nice.  I'm starting to feel a little better today, but training may be out for the week.  I'll have to rally for the last race of the season Sunday in Reston and squeeze something out of the fitness I've built up thus far.


Heidi Swift said...

It's not often you get the pleasure of reading about such brilliant team tactics in cyclocross.

Great report and great effort!

Unknown said...

well done chris- you, kris, and marc v earned it!

-marc g

Chris said...

thanks bro. it wasn't easy. you fought hard and wore the jersey with honor all season long. see you at Reston.