Thursday, September 30, 2010

4 races in two weeks, more to come...

Charm City Cross. 1.2 miles from my house.  Still, we drove to the race - hey I can barely ride 10 feet with two bikes in the grass let alone get my pit bike that far on city streets!  Two races.  One weekend.  Two pros from Rock Lobster crashing at our house.  A local course with 3 or 4 dismounts per lap including questionably rideable sand, a couple of very challenging off camber spots, and a typical uphill start/finish.
Photo: Anthony Skorochod
Day 1: Twisty course.  Legs felt good.  Head, well, it felt good. It just didn't behave.  I made dumb mistakes and got frustrated about it.  Crashed before the first run-up.  Took a bike change for it (shifter was way twisted).  Got my A bike back a 1/2 lap later (awesome pit support from Shea!) and promptly ran it into a barrier.  Grr...  Another lap later, I was bouncing it off of barriers.  Not a clean day.  Wound up 7th on the day after unremarkable last two laps of holding where I was.
Photo: Dennis Smith
Day 2: A little more power oriented, but still, 3 or 4 dismounts per lap and a really smooth turn section out by the ball field.  I've worked a lot on my barriers and it shows when I'm racing.  I passed people at Nittany, I passed people on Day 2 at Charm City through the barriers.  Perhaps that's why my mental mishaps on Day 1 were so frustrating.
Photo: Tracy Patel, also shown, Laurie W
This was one of the most fun races I've had in a while.  Decent start, wound up in the lead by the first time past the pits, felt smooth and focused.  Eventually we did some elbow bumping and I got passed a few times.  Stacey came past me then crashed about two seconds later - somehow I grabbed the TRPs and managed to stop without running her or her bike over.  She was very apologetic - I didn't mind - that's racing and it's not like she was trying to crash!

By the last lap, I was duking it out with Erin, who'd ridden away at Nittany.  Stacey was ahead about about 20 seconds and uncatchable for me at that point.  So it was down to a race for 4th.  I closed all the corners to hold my spot.  The once or so I lost it, I passed through the barriers.  I sprinted my guts out.  I held it by a half a bike length.  What good fun.
Photo: Anthony Skorochod
Whirlybird Cross.  I missed a favorite race to go to this MAC race in PA - the Ed Sanders' Memorial Race at Lilypons.  But the field size in PA was substantial and for now I want to at least hold onto my front row starts for the MAC series.  Drizzle on the drive up, but it was dry.  Bone dry.  Hard, bone-rattling dry.  There are two kinds of places where cross races are often held - city parks and school/city ballfields.  This was the latter.  That means lots of long straightaways, short off camber sections on the edges of the fields, and, in this case, swoops around trees.  A true power course, I stayed in my big ring the entire time.
Photo: Dennis Smith
The start was uneventful, and I was about 5th wheel around the first turns but I could not get on a wheel and stay there.  I spent most of the next 3 laps in no man's land, and wound up 5th in the B race.

One of the rare opportunites this year to race the Elite race, so I went for the double.  A small field of only 12 when I signed up, I knew it was a good chance to test my legs against the big girls and yet I still would likely make back my entry fee.  I figured DFL was a possibility, but I was 9th for most of the race with one woman, Lisa, who had some early technical mistakes and was sneaking up on me.  Just before the bell lap, we traded positions a couple times and then she hung on my wheel for the bell lap...  Until the last straightaway, when I was passed.  I flew into the high speed barriers, passed Lisa on the run/remount through them, and dropped down the S turns on the hill with a slight gap that I managed to hold in the sprint.  It was fun racing. 
I think this is the finish. Photo: Dennis Smith
So a pretty successful day - two top ten results (one in a field of only 12, but still) and my first elite race, and yeah, thanks to equal women's payouts, I made back the entry and even some tolls.

Life only got better when I got back to the car and checked the Steelers' score.  38-3 Steelers in the 4th.

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