Monday, October 5, 2009

Double the fun 2: Reality Check

Race 2 on the weekend was Kelley Acres Cross, outside of Frederick, MD.  Set on an idyllic mid-atlantic farm setting / the promoter's front yard, it has the elements of a truly awesome race.  Especially since they added the flyover.  Yeah, I had to google it before the race - it's the only flyover of its kind in mid-atlantic cross.

This was the day of wheel issues for a lot of people.  Several friends had rolled tubies on Saturday and were operating on limited pit support.  Shea rolled a Tufo in the first half of his first lap in the C race, after a great start and while he was in about 10th - but way far from the pits so he walked it in for his first DNF.  Ah well, luckily for him, he got into the B race for his own reality check about how fast those guys are.  My friend Matt took two wheel changes and I wound up changing wheels before the start.

Despite a bunch of protein recovery food, goat's cheese on crackers and steak on Saturday evening, my legs were feeling the effort.  I resolved to only pre-ride the course (which included a longish climb) once so as to not drain myself warming up.  Yeah, I was feeling that sluggish.  About 5 minutes before the start I was spinning on the road to stay loose and heard something in my tire - arg!  An open safety pin had lodged in my front tubular clincher - I hit the pits before my race for my pit wheel and some choice words.

The race: Front row start and a big Cat 4 field (22 starters!).  Again, no callups, but I'm getting better at finessing my way to the start line where I want to be.  I had a awesome start and easily had the hole shot onto the grass.  This was good, as there was a tight turn and a small barrier right after the gentle downhill start and I wanted to choose my lines.  I led into the barrier and for part of the first lap before being passed by a woman who had a lot of confusion before her race about which category she was in.  (sidenote: if there's any question whether you should be in Cat 4 or Cat 1/2/3/elite, that probably means it should be the latter, and never reveal such confusion at the start line).  After a strong first lap, the top 5 or so of us were still pretty tightly knit - Loretta was off my wheel again on her Superfly.

During lap 2 I was feeling the burn, so to speak.  On the backside climb, 3 riders passed me, one of whom was absolutely flying up it.  Loretta stuck on my wheel until the next time round to the barrier/log pile, which she was riding... I heard a noise over the barriers and looked over to see shock fluid leaking everywhere.  She pulled off to the outside of the turn in a smooth getting out of the way move for a DNF.  Bummer.

I spent the rest of the race battling to get Tami (who I practice with regularly) off my wheel.  She claimed I was dropping her on the downhills - I think she was being kind, though.  Either way, I eventually had a shifting error on a pitchy uphill and wound up off my bike - she pushed by and gapped me - I never could get back on.  It was fun to be chasing people that I know and being pushed by women I knew would not fade behind me.  My technical skills were on despite my lack of legs - I bottomed out a crank cornering once and nailed the barrier/flyover combo every time.  Those steps had to be taken 2 at a time, no doubt.  All in all, 6th on the day - reality check that I'm not really dominating the Cat 4's as much as my first two races might indicate.  I'm pleased, but I had to dig really deep for that finish - 3+ minutes off the leader - the double was tough on me.  It was all true Cat 4's, though I think that gave Lynda the second win for an automatic upgrade.

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