Monday, November 27, 2006


Lake Pleasant Cyclocross

There is no rhyme or reason as to why I do well or completely flail at a race. Over the past few days I have eaten like a sumo wrestler in training, I have not ridden my bike, I have stood on ladders in the cold painting a house, last night I hardly slept, and I woke up this morning with two by fours where my legs should have been. This was the type of morning where if I hadn’t preregistered for the race I would have bagged it, that would have been a shame.
I woke up at the crack, drank coffee after coffee until my right eye began to twitch, loaded up the car in the dark, and headed over to pick up Adrian
We made better time than I’d anticipated, then proceeded to get lost due to a thick fog both on the roads and in my brain. We wound up at the bike swap which was being run in conjunction with the race first, a guy there gave us directions to the venue. When we arrived at the venue we found it wasn’t your typical ‘cross event. Most folks were just parked along the side of the road and any overflow was on a dirt road off to the side, the start finish was down a cleared path through the woods, interesting. As I pre-rode it became even more interesting still, it was the most wallowed out, rough, nasty ‘cross course I’d ever seen, or a real tame mountain bike course…bonus.
The course: The start was on a wide open fire road, into a narrow corner, onto a more gnarly fire road, then a left into some powerlines which were all whoopty and crazy with corners and ruts everywhere, then the barriers came, they were super slow motion and really far apart, then you barrel down a hill onto another fire road which thankfully began going uphill at a slight grade (yes, I’m still all single speed all the time) , then a left onto some jeep trails, a few swooping corners, into some singletrack, more singletrack, more powerlines, another set of slow motion barriers, a downhill (pretty scary for a ‘cross course), bit more mountain bike stuff, a run around a steep, slippery hairpin,

Fletch Foto Video
more downhilling, then the penultimate climb which lead right into a steep long run up, the combination of the two likely constituting a human rights violation, a hundred yards to the line and repeat until your lumbar vertebrae are beaten to a fine powder and your hands feel like you’ve been hanging off the ledge of a tall building in the rain while Rutger Hauer tells you about how he's seen things you wouldn't believe like attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and C-beams glittering in the dark near the Tannhauser Gate.
My start was typical, typically bad that is. It was a flat fire road start but I could have done more I think, I ended up well to the back, next to a guy on a mountain bike (who is probably saying “ya, I had a wicked bad start, I was back with the guy on the pink singespeed”). Actually when I prerode I was wishing I’d brought a mountain bike. I did have to have the rider next to me at the line switch my number from the left to right side of my jersey (a little miscommunication at registration), all the while having to shout “wait, wait, we’re not ready!” of course everyone was ready except for me. When the gun went off I was adjusting the Velcro on my glove. I immediately went into my “oh well, I guess I’ll pick off as many guys as possible” mode. It’s always amazing to me how strung out things get right away, as we came into the powerlines the leaders already had a substantial gap. The first time we hit the fire road with the slight uphill grade of maybe 2% I was able to blast by a handful of dudes, pick off a few more in the corners, another four in the hairpin runaround corner as they tried to ride and I dismounted and ran the inside line, and came past a few more guys on the massive run-up, and finished lap one in a much better position than I began it.
The following laps were more of the same only less dramatic as I passed riders steadily, I could see Ryan Kelly the UNH rider up ahead, he had whupped me in the sprint at Plymouth the week before and I knew if I could reel him in I’d be in good company, easier said than done. He was moving right along, the gap was closing, but not fast, the upside was that as I tried to draw him in I was passing more people all the while. Eventually I overtook him, he kind of overshot a corner, and I was able to open a small gap up. I didn’t know where I stood so I kept pushing. With one lap to go I saw a couple guys who were within my grasp, I made contact with Dan from Circle A Cycles just as he was coming up on a Cyclenauts rider, then Cyclenauts bobbled and dropped his chain, allowing both of us to get away. I accelerated out of every corner, trying to drop Dan, he didn’t go anywhere. When we came into the nasty descent I went brakeless, taking big chances, hoping my alleged mountain bike skills would buy me some daylight, but I turned to see I had done nary a bit of damage. Somewhere in the last few turns I did produce a gap and drilled it up to the run-up, totally redlined, gasping and heaving my way to the top, but Dan had closed it back down, he was literally bumping my wheel. We both hopped on our bikes at the top, I thought I was cooked, that he’d come around me in the flat sprint like Ryan and Pete had the week prior, but I guess he was as hurtin’ as I, because I held him off to the line.

And here’s the funny thing, I didn’t know I’d won, a few people told me I had but I’ve been in that situation before and I wasn’t taking anything for granted. Eventually I accepted the fact that I’d just clinched my first ‘cross win. I felt like going back and riding across the line so I could at least get a victory salute in, maybe some dance move from Michael Jackson’s Thriller video with an inadvertent impression of Hincapie’s crash at Paris Roubaix thrown in for good measure. So not a bad day on the bike, got myself some cash and a pint of fresh honey, thanks Adrian and Kerry for cheering me on, you were an enormous help.


jeff said...

go one-legged man, go! that's the shit, you killed it.

thoroughly enjoyed the race report, the bladerunner reference really brought it all together.

JJ said...

very cool. congrats, yo.

Ryan said...

The entire race I was thinking "Shit...where is Thom Parsons and his amazing singlespeed?"

And then I blew that corner. Ah well. G

reat race, though.