Monday, November 12, 2007

Plymouth South Cyclocross

“Mom I don’t wanna go to the race today, I want to stay home and watch cartoons all day…and drink beer”.

The alarm cycled three times before I was able to open one eye, then the other a moment later, rolling to my stomach, then into a push up position, a while later into a downward dog Yoga pose. From there I backed my way off the bed, pulling my ear plugs out as I went, shutting down the alarm once and for all. I stumbled heavy-footed to the bathroom, splashed cold water on my face, something I call “The Sploosh”, without which I cannot start my day. The coffee maker was set to brew on timer, I filled a mug and padded into the living room to sit on the couch and contemplate the absurdity and futility of racing in the state that I was in. This was the first time all season that I didn’t want to race, I wasn’t feeling it, I wish I could tell you what motivated me to grab my milk crate of race accoutrements and get in the car but I can’t.
After I got to the venue and had a pre-ride on the course I was psyched I’d made it, it was killer, a few good corners, some singletracky bits, two sand pits, and one set of barriers. There was an actual climb, way too steep to ride up comfortably on the single speed, I thought I’d be running it, it was nasty. This was just my second Elite race so I was taking a relaxed attitude toward it, “I just don’t want to get lapped ha, ha (Mark McCormack rides by) heh, um, ya…not get lapped”. I lined up in the back, took the Lantern Rouge going into the hole shot, and tried to settle in.
Going through the first couple corners Todd Wheelden laid his bike down on a paved section, he remounted and ended up one rider in front of me, this rider wasn’t going super good so I came around him as things opened up. There was this little uphill deal with a sharp, loose corner at the top, Todd crashed again, forcing me off course, I rode it out through the brush and high grass, hopping the tape and coming back on course at the bottom. Now I had a gap on Todd and the other rider.
Things had already spread out ahead of us, this was course was ideal for seeing just how badly you were getting your ass kicked and I could tell McCormack wasn’t riding just as fast as he needed to, he had dropped pretty much everyone and was well on his way to lapping me. I was catching other riders though, John Peterson pulled off to the side, possibly with a mechanical, then I caught Patrick Goguen, he dropped out as we passed through the start/finish area. Nice I was still beating one guy…who just caught me, that’s just swell. Wheelden caught back on then promptly dropped my ass, gapping up to Pete Smith. Luckily I had a Popeet container of courage in my back pocket, I took the courage out, closed the gap to Pete, then collapsed the amazing telescopic, accordian type device back to a very small size and stashed it my jersey. Of course Pete dropped out as well, leaving me dangling in the breeze, between Mark The Shark and my first ‘Cross lapping. The last time I got lapped was at The Massachusetts State Mt. Bike Championships in 2003. I was fat and out of shape, riding like crap, and Jonathan Page showed up, he came by me like a ton of bricks in the trunk of a Lamborghini (no need to point out that Lambos don’t have trunks because even if they did they certainly couldn’t hold a ton of bricks).
A big problem I was having was recovering after the climb, I’d have to tack up half the thing, using all the strength I had in my legs, at the top I’d have nothing, I’d gasp my way to the next little descent, never really getting over it. The laps were so fast, we probably hit that thing about twelve times. Then the sandpits came at you, the first was unrideable most of the time, it was in a corner, then you’d run over the barriers, remount and do the straight shot sandpit. One lap there’d be line, the next it would be buggered and you’d get knocked off. I was so spent half way through the race that these things were eating me alive.
During the last couple laps I could see the gap to McCormack coming down in reverse, he was eating up ground like Takeru Kobayashi goes through hot dogs.
The lapping was imminent. For whatever reason I drilled it, laying it down, looking over my shoulder every two seconds, as I came onto the pavement, Mark was coming out of the sandpit, he was less than ten seconds behind me. The announcer said as I passed the start/finish “Thom Parsons riding for International Bicycle Center…if he’d just slow down a little bit he’d save himself another lap…but he’s not going to”. Not getting lapped felt like a huge victory at that point.
The lap was basically my cool down, my body shut down after I crossed the line, it was incredibly hard to get up the slightest rise. It would take two donuts, a large coffee, and three hours on the couch before I was ready to take my cool down ride to the bar on the Schwinn Varsity.

The shot at the top of this post is actually a Michelle Hurley photo from Northampton, but it portrays the effort I had to use to get up the hill so well I thought I'd use it here (that and I had no photos from this race).


Wheels said...

Thanks for not running me over at the top of that hill, nice evasive action through the shrubs! Sorry to be a speed bump, glad you didn't get lapped.

jeff said...

i like the Kobayashi reference. and the not getting lapped part. good man.