Monday, October 29, 2007

Canton Cup Cyclocross – Doing The Double

Since I was volunteering for this event which gave me a free entry and NAV owed me an entry for a race I couldn’t make it to earlier in the season, and because of the way the categories worked out (2/3 and Pro 1,2,3) I could conceivably do two races at this event. I’ve been meaning to petition to get into the women’s Elite races. I figure if Lyne Bessette can sand bag the men’s B races I can do the same with the Women’s Elite races, and I promise not to use the term “retard” even in the French sense of the word while I’m doing it. In reality I’ll turn 35 (I move in geological time) before I get around to that so I’ll be able to take my beating from the Scary Masters’s before I do the Elite race at local events if I so choose.
Woke up early, grabbed myself a “Venti” “Red Eye” at the Starbuck’s on the way to the highway (yes I patronize Starbucks, but only when it’s nowhere near a Café worth a damn),
promptly got on 93 going in the wrong direction. Pretty much all Mt. Bike events are to the north, I was on auto-pilot so that’s where I headed, then I turned around and went back in the direction of Canton. It was a lovely morning, the inclement weather of the day before had blown away, leaving the world a bit damp, but otherwise quite pleasant. There was no real hope for mud seeing as it has been dry for longer than I can remember. First it was global warming, now it’s global drying. Showed up to the venue a good five hours early…I require a very thorough warm up, that and I was volunteering at registration. I got to register a whole bunch of Cat 4’s then watch them come back all bloodied and battered a while later, telling tales of slick corners onto bike paths and other treacherousness.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Girouard

Around eleven I threw on my kit and went out to warm up. On the back side of the course there were these miniature barriers, I thought I should, on principal, hop them, I am a Mt. Biker after all, it would be expected of me. First attempt I clean the first one, Rock Star! Come into the second a bit slow, give the pedal a kick to give me some more height, come down all askew in the front end, skidding laterally on the front tire, front tire rolls off, jams in fork, I vault off the bike looking as graceful as a pig running on a wet tile floor (they have cloven hooves, they don’t run on wet tile floors too well, trust me). So I run off to borrow a wheel, I explore a few options before winding up with Tal Ingram’s wheel, thanks to Rachel and Greg for the offer of theirs, I’m lucky to have so many generous teammates.
At the start the host teams get call ups, I’ve never had a call up before, I usually start in back and work my way up. I was up there with five other teammates, it was pretty cool. The start was uphill which gave me some hope, Tal, Mike, and I ended up in good position after the hole shot, I think I was about 9th, I could see the front of the race for once which was odd and nice at the same time. The difference between starting at the back and working your way up and starting at the front is that when you do the latter the guys around you are generally as strong as you or stronger and often have decent skills which makes it an entirely different experience than what I’m used to. The course was excellent, three sets of barriers, one run up, a track section, lots of turns, a high speed winding bike path section on the back side, and plenty of spots to lose it.

At the end of the first lap a Bike Barn rider came by like a rocket monkey, I hopped on his wheel for about two seconds, realized I couldn’t hold it to save my life, and hopped off. This was John Peterson, the guy that had won both days of Gloucester in the 2/3’s. If I remember correctly I held onto third place for about a minute, then faded and let a few guys past. I could see Peterson ahead through the marsh, closing on Auerbuch at an alarmingly fast rate. Peterson’s victory was a much of a foregone conclusion as the victory of that group of guys that aren’t from Boston but who get paid a lot of money to live in (gated communities outside) Boston and call themselves “The Red Sox” over that other group of high paid guys who aren’t from Colorado but call themselves “The Rockies” in that thing so inaccurately called “The World Series”. For you super fans, I’m kidding, now don’t come to my house and turn over my car during a joyous riot.

Writing ‘Cross reports is way harder than writing mountain bike reports. Mountain bike races are usually four laps tops, they are slightly slower paced, there are fewer riders in them, each eventful thing that happens sticks in your mind. ‘Cross, it’s a bunch of panting, drooling, riders passing, riders falling back, it’s harder to keep track of what went on and when. All I know is that I need to go out and do some more ‘Cross practice. Last season I made light of my ignorance pretty regularly in my write ups, then I learned some of the ropes, but by now I have forgotten almost all of it…I am a complete spazz out there, a total mess on two wheels. Every time there was something that was Cyclocross technical I would freak out and lose countless bike lengths. I think I’ve said it before, the saying goes “It’s just like riding a bike” not “It’s just like riding a bike WELL”.
The 2/3 race ended with me getting gapped on the pavement by a hard charging Cambridge Bike rider to finish 6th out of forty something, I was happy with that. I wasn’t really sure what to do during the hour interim between that race and the Elite race. I kind of pedaled around, had an Accel Gel and some drink, chatted to some folks, then prerode the course once again before lining up to for the kick in the pants party. It was nice lining up for that race, I was way more relaxed, just ready to go out and ride hard for an hour, I knew that flagellation and humiliation were imminent, but I didn’t care so much. We went, I was third to last into the hole shot, geez, I thought I was going faster than that, I guess Elite guys go fast, who knew? I’d thrown a bit more pressure in my (Tal’s) front tire, it made all the difference, I was able rail the corners way better than during the previous race. My legs were shredded but I felt like I was going faster, I felt like I was riding my bike better, and most importantly I was having more fun.

Photo Courtesy of Jason Girouard

Eventually I caught up to Jon Bruno who was going mighty fast considering he hasn’t ridden a bike in months, he lost a leg in a shaving accident, and all he’s eaten in weeks are Cheetos and mayonnaise. Jon could have beaten me with a thought, but he just didn’t feel like it so I carried on, gapping up to some other dudes. Then I saw the pink and blue CCB kit ahead, it was Bernhard, it was time to redline, time to die. Not sure when Todd Rowell came into the picture, if I caught him or he caught me, but I spent a lot of time riding with him, trading off, I think I used him to reel in Bernhard. Once I got Bernhard he wouldn’t say die, I finally gapped him with an uncharacteristically smooth ‘Cross Ninja maneuver, remounting after the uphill barriers my right pedal was right where I wanted it, I landed on it with all my weight, clipping in the left foot nicely as well and powering up the small rise after. He didn’t let up for a couple laps after that, always lurking, clawing back to me.
During the last lap I tried to rid myself of Rowell (I didn’t know who he was at the time, now I know he’s a wicked fast roadie) by attacking on the one straight away in the series of corners before the run up to the track. I got around him and lead into a corner where he had gone down earlier, hoping he would over cook it again, no dice. The gaps were small, but they were there, he ate them back up for the most part on the track, leaving me with almost nothing going onto the pavement after the last set of barriers. I think he actually apologized as he blasted away up the finishing straight. “That’s the problem with single speeds” he said as I high fived him after crossing the line. Nope, that’s the problem with this guy right here trying to outsprint anybody, nevermind a legitimately fast Cat 2 Roadie.
It was a fun day, a long ass day, and I can’t tell you how pissed my body is right now. I’m an arthritic three toed sloth on Dilaudid. Still, I wish I could do the double again, but the way the categories work, I usually can’t. Oh well, guess it’s no holds barred ass whuppings for me from here on out.
Thanks to C Todd of IBC and Todd C. of NAV for putting this thing together, altogether a great event, can’t wait to do it all again next year.


Colin R said...

I'm a bit slow with numbers, are you saying that you're a cat 2 or a 3?

Because I seem to remember you in some 3 races last year. Well, I remember your ass, anyway, at least at the start.

And if you're a 3 you can basically double up anytime your foolish heart desires.

Thom P. said...

Technically I'm a 2.When they went to the numerical system that's what I ended up with. Now if they would only hand me an upgrade to 3 on the road for no apparent reason...

doug said...

got some photos from saturday on my flickr account.

Colin R said...

goddammit thom, you stole my verge point!