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Monday, November 14, 2011

Mt. Pleasant mudfest.....

Yesterday........or should I say today since I haven't slept yet, was Bubbacross #9, Mt. Pleasant winery. I had been feeling a bit under the weather on Saturday. I actually had thoughts on skipping out of the race because of it and I didn't do much for training during the week other then a couple hours on the trainer on Wednesday. I woke up sunday to cold and wet conditions. I had a lot to do before the race since the race was an hour away and then had to make the drive to Chicago after that in my old, loud, rusted out, lacking of any power 94 Jeep Wrangler. I knew it was gonna be a long drive. Short of waking up with the flu, not racing was out of the question, especially since it was really the first race this year in true cross conditions. Aaron called me on the way to say it was coming down pretty good, great, more rain was not what I wanted.

I got to the winery an hour before the start. It was cold, wet, and had,the makings of something really miserable, but I usually do pretty good in the mud. I was able to sneak onto the course for half a lap to check the conditions. They pretty much sucked. Aarin had said it was a skating rink out there, but I had to experience it for myself. As I rode back to the car my nemesis Peter, from Bigshark was sitting on a trainer under a tent.......hmmm, propably the only smart way to warm up in those conditions. I had to get my heartrate up, especially since I hadn't really done shit all week. I did a few quick sprints in the parking lot.

Everyone was already lined up, I lined up right behind Peter. We started out neutral through the slick pavement area and then hit this grass, or should I say mud. Everyone was taking it very cautiously around the turns. It soon started to get thinned out with only four of us. Peter, Matt, myself, and some other nameless guy I'll refer to as mt. Bi,er dude, only because somebody else refered to him as that. The race at the front started to get established. Peter, then Matt, myself, and then mt. biker dude. There were gaps being created between all of us. A few laps later I suddenly passed Matt. I could see he was in some sort of difficulty. I ran passed him on the big hill. I didn't see him again until the end of the race. I was having all sorts of difficulties navigating the big off camber turn in front of the sellout crowd. It was fun hearing all the cheers and heckling. I was able to ride it about a third of the time, the other thirds I was crashing, having to run it. I think my lack of practice and tire pressure on that did me in. I also took it too hot. I seemed to have forgotten that one rule that sometimes its fast to go slow! I started to slow and soon the mt. Biker dude caught me. We played cat and mouse for a few laps. He'd catch and pass me before the big hill, but then I'd end up passing him on the climb and then put a gap on him. It was during theses last few laps my fingers were so numb from the cold I couldnt even shift or brake without feeling pain if I could even do it at all. Finally, before the last lap I figured if I just stayed with this guy to the hill I'd easi y pass him. That idea didn't pan out. I went down on Amen corner which allowed him to get a gap that I couldn't recover from. I'd say he only got 10-20 seconds on me, enough for second, and I got third. About a minute or two later I was surprised to see Matt come in for a sprint finish for 4th with ss Pete.

After the race I made the trip to Chicago in my old faithful Jeep. Almost 20 years old, but still keeps truckin along. The natural 70 mph governor kept me at the speed limit, but it was a long and slow drive.

My next race may be in two weeks. I'll more then likely be up here in Chicago for the holidays. Jinglecross over in Iowa looks like the closest race this weekend.

Two'fer cross weekend.....

Another two race weekend. Saturdays race was at the Concordia Seminary where I took third last year in my only bubba race, and Sundays race was in my backyard at Creve Coeur Park. I really needed to get some points this weekend after the fiasco last week when I forgot my shoes and had to drive home and try to make the B race. I missed the start by about two minutes. I ended up just doing the A race, which wasn't bad. I ended up 13th out of 18 racers. I did beat Denny though, my nemesis from crossresults.

The Concordia course was set up similar to last years, which was a good thing, technical and fast. I finally got my spare bike built up and was able to get it in the pits. It's actualy nicer then my regular bike. I was able to get a partial lap in for my warm-up. I had a decent spot in the first row. There were 32 starters for this one. From the start I was able to get a good jump. I tried not to start out too hard, but definetly wanted to be in a good position before the tree section and definetly before the log obstacle. I figured too far back and I'd get caught up in traffic. I was third going into the woods. There was one guy I tangled with a bit, I tried to squeeze by and he shut me down. I was finally able to pass him a bit later. I can't remember if I was first over the log, but by the time I got back to the start/finish line I had the lead. I think I had a pretty good gap with only a few guys in the chase. I was eventually caught by Peter J, and SS Peat with Patrick G not too far behind. We were making good ground and Peat took over the pacemaking on his singlespeed. I knew Peat had just raced and thought he might fade so there was no sense in taking the lead. Peat was struggling up the slight incline after the log all day and Peter decided to hammer it and we eventually dropped him.

It was a two man race after that. I had the luxury earlier in the race to follow Peat's line outside the staircase while Peter was in the lead. On the last lap I took the outside line while Peter ran up the staircase. It gave me just enough time to get out in front and put a small gap on him. I didn't even think of it being illegal at the time. There was no tape and several other people were taking that line. I just thought of it as being another risk vs. reward obstacle. There was a post that was situated to the right that really could've created havoc if you got your bar caught on it. From a strategic standpoint, Peter didn't have the advantage of watching Peat take that line. I don't know if it was because of this scenario, but apparently there was a thread started on the stlbiking messageboard about people taking that line, http://stlbiking.com/forum/index.php/topic/29086-riding-around-obstacles/. In any case, I stand by the line I took. I put a small gap on him, but I knew I had to work because he was just a bit faster then me on the slight incline after the log. When I remounted after the last staircase he was right behind me through the twist and turns. One bobble and he'd pass me. We came out of the trees and I sprinted the last 200 meters to the finish. I waited for him to come around, but he never did.

I've had a few seconds and thirds in road, mt. bike, and cross, but my first victory since my xc mt. biking days in the mid 90's. As much as I enjoyed that win I think Denny was actually happier then I was.

It was back to work on Sunday to try and get back those points for the overall. After checking out the points, it looks like it may be an uphill battle with the amount of races left. It was nice having this race in my backyard, but the course setup did not suit me at all. It was mostly flat and not too technical. Before the race I saw teammate Dwayne G. It was his first cross race. He asked for a bit of advice, but honestly what could I tell an off-road superstar that he doesn't already know. I just told him to treat it like a mt. bike race and he'd do fine. I got a couple practice laps in and knew it would be a tough course for me. We lined it up and from the start I was out in front for the first two laps. As we started the third lap I had Mark H and Dwayne behind me. I didn't want to lead this race and blow myself up so I let dwayne and mark go. Dwayne really poured it on as he passed and soon he and Mark had a gap. Matt D eventually caught me and I pulled him for a few laps before I decided I shouldn't be doing all the work. He took over and we soon caught and passed Mark, but still had a contingency of riders just behind us. I soon fell off Matts pace and was caught by Peter, Mark, and I think Patrick. I still kept the lead throughout the last lap half heartedly thought I could make it stick. Pete made a well timed pass at the end to get in front of me. He had the jump on me on the last turn and we sprinted for third. He won. Teammate Dwayne showed his ability by walking away from the rest of us to take the win by a decent margin. Great job Dwayne.

Next up is Pleasant Hill Winery.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Cross season in full swing.....race reports

As the title states, the cross season is well under way. I started out the season slow with only hitting one Pride race where I raced the Masters, and then the Chicago Cross Cup race. Those were my races to get the cobbwebs off the old pistons. It's now three weeks, and five races later. I've been concentrating on the Bubba Series B race(cat 3/4). This is only my second season doing cross so I'd like to do well in the B's before moving up to the A's and get my ass handed to me.

I've been doing relatively well placing in the top 10 through the first five races. I'm actually in contention for the overall sitting in fourth place. Two of the guys ahead of me have have now upgraded to CAT 2's so now I'm actually in second place, but I really need to bear down and pull out a victory to gain maximum points. The other guys in the top 10 are still very strong and it's gonna be tough to maintain high places for the rest of the series. My travel and work schedule make it hard to get some good mid week training in, but I've been making do. I've been trying to put up my race reports, but usually after every Sunday race I'm getting in my car and making the five hour drive to Chicago which doesn't give me a lot of blog time.

Bubba #1 Queeny(night), 5th
Bubba #2 Queeny, 6th
Bubba #3 Fort Bellefontaine, 7th
Bubba #4 Faust Park(night), 4th
Bubba #5 Faust Park, 3rd

Bubba #4

This was a night race and I was pretty tired. I helped Denny pour concrete in the morning. He supposedly gave me the easy job, but it was still back breaking work. My upper body was a little tired and sore eight hours later. I was able to get on the trainer for about 10 minutesbefore the race, enough time to get the heartrate up a bit before heading to the start line. There was about 35-40 racers and I was able to get into the first row. There were plenty of costumes at the start line. The best was the dude with the creature strapped to his back. I felt how heavy it was and I can't imagine him having much fun. While I was there Sunny G.(triathlon superstar) squeezed her way right next to me. She was in a nice Sequenced short skirt, I didn't know if I wanted to pass her or stay right behind her. As the race started Devlin took off and I stayed right behind him. After about 3/4 of a lap I had to make the pass along with a few other guys. It came down to myself, Frenchy, another guy named Pete, and Matt D. We had a four man lead on everyone else before I started to fade. Those guys were really hammering and the course and played to their advantage. I was in no mans land and I could see Peter J in his bright orange carrot suit hot on my tail. The last couple laps I started to have drivetrain problems. My chain was slipping and I was just hoping to keep it in one piece to the finish. I was able to hold him off for fourth place. The next day I looked at my chain and it turned out one of the links got bent, so I ended up replacing the chain.

Bubba #5

This race was a crap shoot. I felt like crap. I dug so deep the night before that I had stomach cramps that kept me up all night. I had to take a little pepto just so I could fall asleep. The weather was made for cross, mid to low 50's, windy, and a little drizzle. Once again I was able to get a front row spot. There was only 30-35 racers for this one. Right from the gun I got the holeshot and just kept on hammering. Before I knew it I had a decent sized gap. I started wondering if I had started out too hard, but the body wasn't telling me I had. I decided to slow up just a bit. I led for about two laps before finally being caught by Patrick. Later he told me he was actually yelling at me to wait for him. I didn't hear him, but it worked out and he caught me. Patrick and I took turns for a few more laps. I could see Matt D slowly creeping in on us and I told Patrick we needed to get on our horse because that guy really has a motor. It didn't matter, he ended up catching us and we had a three man paceline going. Myself and Matt ended up taking turns pulling as Patrick sat on complaining about his back. Matt really did more of the work, but we also had a Mack guy slowly catching us. He got really close a couple times, but Matt and I really kept the hammer down as best we could. On the last lap I had just taken a pull through a bit of an uphill section as Patrick came around us like he was shot out of a cannon. Matt followed, but I just didn't have any gas. I did what I could to keep the Mack guy at bay. Patrick took the win and I took 3rd.


Bubba #5 Faust Park, 3rd