Monday, October 18, 2010

The triple... UCI3 cross festival, Cincinnati

When I said "more to come", I really meant "we're going to try to wear out the new clutch in our Focus by driving it nearly 2500 miles in less then two weeks."  Triple race report, only a week or so late.

Cincinnati.  The only 3 day cross festival, well, anywhere really.  Three days of hanging out on a gorgeous weekend in October with friends from cross - Diane, FatMarc, Bad Kat and Andy, Wes, Weaver, Kris, Breyla, Meatball- it's cool how fun the cross community is.  They cheered for me and asked Shea (who rode in the last race each day) how he finished the next morning.  Good gang.

Friday - Cyclo-stampede.  Put a park on the side of a hill and then throw some spaghetti on it - that's what the course was.  Friday's course had more climbing and descending than some mountain bike races I've done (yes, Fair Hill and Wakefield, I'm talking about you).  Stand to get up there, grab brakes at the corner at the bottom of the next downhill, repeat.  I actually sorta liked it in a masochistic way.  It was truly a course in which I was either a) standing to climb, b) wishing I was standing but not having the power, or c) putting my bum off the back and grabbing some levers, hoping those carbon brake pads morphed into something just a little more powerful.

Front row start in a smallish field.  They stage the Open 3/4 women ahead of the masters (35+ women) and then start us all together.  I led onto the grass - I wanted to - I didn't have a great line on the first off camber to the right and figured that making others follow me was better than the alternative.  On lap 2, I got passed by a young woman on a really sweet bike.  Turns out, she would win, and the bike (a Stevens) was brand new.  I watched a masters' rider go through the tape twice on the same turn after the barriers.  I contemplated riding the mini-waterbars they had on a hill.  But I didn't.  It wasn't a 100% ride for me, so the dismount and run was faster.  I don't think any of the women's elite riders rode it either.

I had a big gap in front and a big gap behind.  I finished 2nd.  Pleased, but wanting more.  I then proceeded to walk around, talk, wait in line for things, stand around some more, then run around the course watching Shea ride to 3rd (his first cx podium - a 12 year old won his race).  Yeah, so in other words, I completely screwed my recovery in ways that I paid for on Saturday.

Saturday - Java Johnny's - oof.  Legs feeling a hot, hilly day yesterday.  A big ring course.  Oof.  Nothing like needing some power.  A pretty flat park, with some sketchy acorn tree corners, a pain in the butt sandpit x 2 (think U-turn in the sand, just an excuse to get me off my bike), some fun ups and downs behind the pool.

A good start.  I led onto the grass.  I was second by the time a stake and some tape yielded to my bike with a crunch on a sweeper.  Turns out FatMarc nailed the same stake several hours later, only they'd beefed it up a bit.  I rode the tricky S curve around a tree/uphill.  Whoops.  I didn't ride it all the way.   A quick flip of the front wheel and I was laying on the ground, under my bike.  3 spots down, but only one was in my race.

I just couldn't hang onto those masters' riders.  It was where I needed to be to get help and get back up there.  Kat was on my wheel.  I tried to keep her there - we were racing for 5th and 6th and if 4th had started to fade at all, I wanted help in the chase.  But no such luck. Kat dropped back on the last lap and I finished 5th on the day.  The announcer noted that I'd missed the podium.

After being very diligent about my immediate recovery, eating a fantastic iced pumpkin muffin from Java Johnny's and taking a little nap, a college friend showed up and I got to explain 'cross to her while talking about what it's like (for her) to be a medical resident.  Then we watched Shea get badgered by announcers and hecklers alike as he rode to 4th behind 3 guys not old enough to drink.  Two of them were under 15.  To say that Cinci has a great juniors development culture is an understatement.

Sunday - the infamous Harbin ParkA course preview didn't really show me what was everyone was talking about on this course - JPow and others had declared it an all-time fave.  But what's the big deal?  Well, balance, folks, balance.  Some winding around the trees technical sections was spaced out from the off camber ups and downs by a couple of power sections.  The high speed off camber section was followed by a no-brakes-but-I-really-want-to-grab-em downhill where you can easily hit 30mph.  The sand pit was maybe rideable uphill, but I ran it to save matches.  The second pass through per lap was downhill - with speed and a good entry, you could gain seconds in it.

Another front row start.  The Ohio ladies like to gravitate to the second row when they get about 8 deep in the call-ups.  Fine by me.  Second wheel onto the grass, I was about 3rd by the time we hit the steep up-down-up off cambers.  Good thing.  I felt/heard someone clip my rear wheel and definitely heard several people behind me crash.  A tell-tale hiss meant a flat.  But it wasn't mine, and I was standing in the pedals, trying to get a gap up the rather steep finish line hill.

I rode in second for about a lap - Leah was already off the front.  By the start of the second lap, I was plodding through the sand.  I got passed.  Twice.  FatMarc yelled at me.  I got on their wheels and stayed there for about a 1/2 lap.  I got dropped but was holding about a 7-10 second gap.  On the first half of the 3rd lap, I had a good sand pit.  I tried to bury myself and make it back to 2nd, knowing the other rider in that group was in the Masters' category.
Photo: Jeffery Jakucyk

I stood up, on an uphill.  In my easiest gear.  My legs laughed at me.  On a different day, that was a big ring uphill.  But not Sunday.  I backed off.  The gap was reasonable behind me.  No need to crash.  I rode pretty hard still, though.  The barriers were swimming in my eyes on the last lap.  I squeaked up the finish line hill with a smile.  Hey, I regained that podium spot.
Photo: Jeffery Jakucyk
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