Monday, November 24, 2008

Race Report: Chicago Cross Cup #9, Woodstock

We had a great day yesterday at Woodstock. I conquered some demons during this race. Not in relation to my finish, more about how I race.

The course. Very spread out. Several short climbs. Some nice longish downhills that felt more like a mountain bike course than a cross course. Nice wide and long start area, then around a few turns into the first climb into the woods. Down the longest downhill, a wide right turn right back up into a climb, dirt then pavement. Back onto the grass, some easy turns, then alot of bumps. This was probably the bumpiest course I've been on. At least one other rider commented that he tried to shift at one point an his hand just flew off the shifter due to the bumps. Only 1 dismount, at the top of one these climbs for a triple barrier. The barriers were tough though because they were not equally spaced and were at different heights. Some fast downs including a spot where you get some air as you crossed the road. Then several tight off camber turns before the finish line. If you were in front coming out of the last turns, it would be pretty difficult if not impossible to win a position if you were not in front.

I did 3 or 4 laps before the race. Each lap, lowering tire pressure and finally settling on 32 psi.

The start. Still in 5th overall. Whistle. I'm about 15th into the first climb but move up before the long down. As we come out of the woods for the first time I can see the groups form in front of me. 1-5, then a gap, then 5 or 6 more, then me. I can "feel" at least one rider with me.

The race. I pushed as hard as I could to catch the group in front of me, which I did on the second lap. Now I'm with 5 other guys, all of whom have raced against each other the whole season. This photo by Carolyn shows this group perfectly. From right to left: Me, Vince Boyer, Jim Nowak, Michael Stanley, William from DICE and Pete Rolewicz.

We raced each other for the whole race. Each person coming to the front at different points. Sometimes one or two would get a gap and then the rest would catch back on. William was the first to get away. I told myself that I was not going to let anyone get away this race and held his wheel for a long while. I remember after pulling for awhile and Jim coming through saying to him "we've got to stay with him, he'll be gone." But then the elastic broke. Michael was the next to try and he succeeded. The rest of our group stayed together until the last lap when Pete and I pulled away. I could see Michael and William just ahead. Michael had passed William, who seemed to be fading. Lapped 30+ riders now played into race strategy. If you could pass one before a tech section, the guy on your wheel would have a difficult time staying on. Pete tried to pass me on the very last climb and I sprinted side by side with him and got just clear as we hit a 30+ rider just before the last set of turns coming into the finish and I held my spot.

The result: Out of that group, we ended up:

8th: Michael Stanley
9th: William
10th: Me
11th: Pete
12th: Vince
13th: Jim Nowak
This was a course that was hard physically because of how bumpy it was and then tough mentally to try to hold each position. I feel like I made some major gains in my head about racing.

Then we did the 1,2,3s. I really had nothing left for this as everything I had was laid out for the 40+ race. But I did it. Not very well, but I did it. I slowed down to let the leaders of the race pass me. I didn't want to be in the way.

Watched most of the other races. Shouts out to everyone: Lou with the WIN! Hell yeah! Sherer with the win. Cliff with his best finish in the 4s yet: 5th with 3rd and 4th just ahead. I'm not sure how the rest of team placed, but it seemed like everyone was enjoying themselves.
Not going to Jingle Cross. Family obligation. I expect text updates. See everyone in 2 weeks for the finale: Montrose. It was snowing a little this morning.

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