Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sacramento CX #4 at Lange Twins Winery: Nov. 21, 2010

With rain Friday and Saturday and threatening skies on Sunday this looked like it would be a muckfest of a race but Sunday turned dry and, while muddy (more on that later) the race was generally clean - all things considered. Here's a map of the course.

The start was at the bottom of a flyover that, I assume, is part of the winery where they must dump grapes into a big two story crusher contraption sort of thing. As a race obstacle it was a steepish, but short climb, with a flat section followed by an equally steepish, yet short, descent. After that was a sweeping left hander onto a short sidewalk and a 180 onto a dirt path. After that was a left hander down into the turf section of the course. With the rains the grass and turf was plenty soaked. But instead of standing mud puddles, the turf soaked up the water and turned into a soul-sucking peanutbutter like consistency that grabbed everyone's wheels and had us grabbing for ridiculously small gears just to slog along. A few barriers and up and down a big berm finally turned into the "spiral of DOOM." It's that cinnamon roll looking part on the map there. In warmup, I could tell this was going to be the most hellish part of the course and it certainly was. Each time through was an interminable spiral in through the lecherous muck searching in vain for good lines that maybe were just slightly packed enough to get through slightly faster. Right when the legs were screaming for a break, a 180 degree turn came and the slog to spiral back out began. Then came more wheel grabbing sections of muddy turf going up and down and around and finally the short merciful section of pavement came to the start/finish and all too soon it was back into the grind.

For once I grabbed a good spot for the start. I launched and clipped in well and had a really great position at around 12th going into the technical stuff. I even moved up a few spots as riders bobbled the first turns. Going into the first barriers there was a slight bottleneck and I got swarmed a bit (got bashed into pretty good too but that's just part of the fun). Coming out I had trouble clipping in and lost a few spots.

That was about as good as my race got. By the first time into and out of the spiral of doom I was falling back back back and getting passed. All I could do was just keep grinding away and shake my head that I simply am not on the same level as the rest of the field. What a frustrating experience to be that overmatched. It's just become a regular occurance this year for my giveadamn to simply quit at that point. I spent the rest of the race just slogging along in no man's land getting passed by most of the 45+ field and the 55+ field to add insult to misery.

My final result was 34th of 40! Ouch ouch ouch ouch. I think that's the worst result I've suffered in the two years since I've been back racing. I really don't know what the heck is going on. I just don't have any horsepower all of the sudden. This wouldn't be a big deal if I wasn't training my ass off lately. But I am! Hell, maybe I'm working too hard and not letting my body recuperate but it doesn't feel like it. When I'm doing intervals I'm getting tired but I seem to be recovering okay. I can tell I'm sluggish in climbing lately too which further adds to the "where the crap did my power go?" equation.

Ah bike racing. It can be a cruel wench when it's not going well. But that's usually the fun of cyclocross where you don't get dropped and spend the day riding by yourself. Or do you?

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Sacto CX #3 B 35+ @ Lembi Park: Nov. 6, 2010

Hard to believe it's November! The weather today was very uncyclocrosslike. Instead of wet, cold and miserable, it was sunny, pleasant and almost too nice to think about racing. But racing was in the plans anyway.

After getting registered and getting wheels in the pit and a brief warmup ride out on the road I did as many laps as I could sneak in between the A racers. The course looked pretty straight forward. The main obstacles were:
- some off camber turns in the grass with tree roots to make it interesting,
- a sand pit with a turn in it,
- barriers at the bottom of a short hill
- and another set of barriers before the last turns towards the finish line.

Most of the course was on grass but there were healthy doses of sidewalk and parking lot pavement mixed in. Heck, here's a picture.

My tires were already overinflated from a warmup/checkup ride on the road yesterday and I made the grave mistake of leaving them like that. I ended up racing with about 75-80 psi front and rear! They felt okay on the warmup laps and I figured the small sacrifice over the off camber and tree roots would pay off on the paved portions. I realized that over-thinking ended up being a big mistake under race conditions when I was bouncing all over the place and having to slow down too much in a few critical corners. It also caused me to crash a couple of times that wouldn't have happened if I'd been running nice and soft... Woops.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. After the A race the course was wide open for practice. I took a look at the barriers before the small hill and determined they were rideable. I was right, they were rideable but on my second time through I endoed and drove my left quad into something and gave myself a heck of a charlie horse (as I right this, it's quite stiff and swollen, o joy). This seemed to shoot my confidence. Where I had been feeling really good up to that point, I ended up performing quite clumsily after that. And my giveadamn seemed to be broken from that point on.

This is one of the worst race reports I've ever written. Disjointed, out of order. Kind of fits how the actual race went. I don't want to get into any other details other than to say that some folks just take their racing way too seriously. Many guys seem to intentionally cut guys off when passing and I got into a verbal altercation with a guy after he swept my front wheel three times in the space of about two minutes. It was stupid but he went roadie-nuts, overreacting and flying off the handle cursing and talking shit and that kind of ruined the day for me (delicate readers will know that I'm not adverse to letting some profanity fly but there's a big difference between "You fucking asshole" and "I was fucked today.").

I ended up something like 25th given my lack of motivation and racing on half of one leg and generally just being a tad overweight and out of shape. Blech. Here's some pics stolen from Shane Huntoon ( I'm seriously thinking I may need to swallow my pride and enter a race as a C pretty soon. I don't think I cracked the top half of the field today.

Here's the barriers I was jumping before reality kicked in and a standard dismount made 1000% more sense.

Lower lip sucked in, strained neck tendons, yep, I'm having a bad day... Left quad is looking swollen already in the pic, I think.

Normally I would have a shit-eating grin or at least a contration/strained look doing this but I just look pissed off. Not cool.