Sunday, October 26, 2008
Somehow, the last three to four weeks of posted 'cross race results have had errors. I am mainly aware of errors in the women's fields, so can't comment on the men's results. I understand that it is difficult for the officials to keep track of everyone, especially with large fields, but when racers pay their money, their expectation is that they will see where they end up in the race.
I have seen racers placed incorrectly, not listed at all in the results, and listed as DNF in races they have finished. I've even seen incorrect names associated with a race number. What can I do to help? Is there a better way for us to be scoring these races and keeping track? I am willing to help craft a solution if anyone has an idea.
And to racers: you need to be vigilant about checking the results after a race. Once posted on-site, you have 15 minutes to protest. If results aren't protested, they get submitted and posted, after which time they will not change. It is YOUR responsibility to check and be sure that you are listed in the correct place BEFORE you leave for the day!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
I like the Canton course - it's challenging and has something for everyone: pavement, double-track, bumpy grass fields, tight turns, a track, a loose run-up and three sets of barriers.
Going into the second lap, I was really pushing the hairy edge of the eyeball. I could see both Sue M and Marci T-H just ahead, and went slighty past where I should have trying to close the gap. Remember those sky scraper barriers? I ended up taking the first one in my shin! Man that hurt! But, determined, and still able to see them just ahead, I kept on going, trying to catch (I never did). I ended up racing against Hannah K who beat me by a few seconds on the final lap going over the barriers. I was happy to be finished, and knew I pushed hard when my leg hurt so badly I couldn’t put weight on it, and my stomach stayed upset for over a day ;)
Monday, October 20, 2008
Mike and I went up to the house in Bethel on Friday to check things out and ensure all was well, since we hadn't been up since August. Thankfully, the house is still standing, and we haven't [yet] been over-run by mice seeking warmer housing. It was definitely chilly though - temp on Sat morning was a balmy 27, and there was frost on the car.
OK, so the REAL purpose of our trip was to go and race 'cross at New Gloucester. This is our 3rd year racing at this venue, and I can't say enough good things about it. I know that the schedule conflicted with Mansfield this year, but a visit to Pineland Farms for an excellent 'cross race should be on everyone's fall list of things to do. They've re-done the store/indoor farm stand and we found some yummy Maine-made salsas, honey and cheese to bring home with us.
After debating about which races to do, we both decided on the Elite races later in the afternoon. That meant no "crack of dawn" wake up, which was really nice. After arriving, I asked Mike to go out with me on the course to help me with all of the sections to have a better race. He gave some great tips, which really helped later on, although I did abandon my attempt at riding the run-up (I tried 3 times during warm-up and ALMOST made it).
Because of the conflicting races, the Elite Women's field was small - 6 starters including Marianne, Linnea, Sue M, Susanne and myself (the 6th woman was unknown to all of us, and missed the start of our race, although she did go on to finish...). I had a terrible start, and was forced to chase down the high-speed pavement into the 90 degree right hand turn, but I caught on in time to see both Marianne and Linnea catch a little bit of air over the first hump before the barriers. What is it with me and starts this year? I can't seem to get going to save myself... I'm going to have to practice this in earnest before the next Verge race!
I also flubbed going into the barriers the first time, dismounting WAY too early. From the photos, it looks like I took about 7 steps before actually getting over the first barrier. Mike was great, yelling at me to not get off so early - I listened, and nailed that section for the remaining 3 laps (YAY!). Barriers are another one of my weak points. I think I need to start making a list ;).
I ended up racing with teammate Susanne for the entire race - the first two laps on her wheel (or chasing her down to get on said wheel), and then ahead of her as she had an unfortunate tip over on the off-camber dam section. With Susanne just behind, and seeing that I was gaining on Sue M each lap, it made for great incentive for me to keep on pushing through the whole race, trying not to get caught by Susanne, and trying desperately to close the gap to Sue. With one more lap, I think I may have caught Sue, but I think Susanne may also have caught me, as she finished right on my wheel. It was fun though, to actually be racing so close to other competitors - that doesn't always happen for me.
The men's 1/2/3 field was also small yesterday - only 9 guys taking the line in a race that paid 15 deep. You do the math on that one ;). They were racing for an hour, which is 15 minutes more than Mike is used to, but he figured it was worth a shot. I was poised by the barriers as they came into the first lap, and watched with dismay as one of the riders overcooked the corner before, forcing Mike and Tom G to slide out to the side and into the tape. That put Mike in about 7th position right from the get go. As I waited for him to come back around, I chatted with Tim and Todd S who had both raced the 3/4 Master's race earlier, and were now playing pro-spectator. We were all surprised to see the leader come through, with Mike hot on his heels!
This was exciting - Mike was in 2nd place in the 1/2/3 race, and while Brendan had a small gap on him, he also had a gap on Ryan K. As I chased around the course taking pics, this is the way the order stayed for a number of laps, with Brendan's gap slowing coming down. As I was making my way back toward the finish area, I was talking to my friend Ivy when I saw Mike come through AHEAD of Brendan! Unfortunately, Brendan had crashed and had trouble with his chain, putting Mike ahead of him in 1st place!
Mike's lead on Brendan and Ryan continued to grow as the race continued. I cautioned him to ride smart (like he needs MY advice ;)), and he did, winning his first ever 'cross race! Ryan ended up passing Brendan in the final lap, and that was the order of the podium.
Mike's down playing his win - he says that there weren't any big names there, it was a small field, etc., etc. But a win is a win! And between the two of us, we ended up coming home with over $200 in winnings for the day - guess we made the right choice on which races to do.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
What do Oktoberfest and the Gloucester 'cross races have to do with each other? Absolutely nothing, but I felt the need to spread some Gemutlichkeit anyway, and to celebrate my roots (I come from a town in Canada that hosts the largest Oktoberfest outside of Germany). At least the Erdinger folks thought it was clever!
I've been waiting all year for this race, since it's one of my favorites. The venue and course are fantastic, and at no other time during the season (ANY of the cycling seasons) will you find Women's 3/4 fields of over 60! I realized after a weekend of racing that there were women in my races whom I know, but never even saw...
Here are my top 10 learnings from this weekend at Gloucester:
- NEVER, EVER take it easy on a start. Hole shots count, and everyone wants it. Drafting will come LATER. I thought I would go a bit easier and try to get on a wheel, but that was a bad strategy out of the gate, and something I didn't do on Sunday.
- Hitting the ground at speed HURTS, even if it's grass. Recovering from hitting the ground at speed takes more than overnight.
- Crashing when you are fighting for a top 10 is VERY disappointing, especially when at least three people pass you while you are still on the ground trying to determine if you are ok.
- For one lap of a race that matters, I can ignore the hurt of a crash. Any climbing after the crash hurt pretty badly, but I ignored it to try and still finish the race strong.
- Finding out you finished a race and won a sprint with a wheel that wouldn't turn helps take some of the sting out of finishing outside the top 10. This is the ONLY time I ever wished for a Power Tap - I can only imagine the wattage required for that final sprint up the hill.
- Cheering and screaming friends can help and hurt. They helped me win the sprint ("Someone is right on your wheel - it's Michele!"), but for Michele, it meant she couldn't sneak by me ("Go get her, Michele!"). I have found this in previous races where someone I am trying to pass will make an extra effort when they hear someone on the sidelines yelling for you to pass.
- Running around the course taking pictures of your husband racing is NOT a good warmup ;)
- I suck at steep, loose run-ups.
- Try not to pull your main nemesis around for the final lap - she'll out sprint you at the end. I was ahead of Karen on Saturday before the crash, and for all of the race on Sunday. Unfortunately, I knew she was sitting on my wheel for most of the final lap and there was nothing more I could do. She beat me by 1 second.
- Wearing Lederhosen to a 'cross race attracts a lot of attention (and got me free beer)!
Mike had an awesome weekend of racing. He lined up in about the 5th row both days (not great starts in a well-stacked Master's 35+ field), and managed to work his way up and finish 16th both Saturday and Sunday (and coincidentally, I also finished 16th on Saturday...)! Great races for him in fields of between 85 and 90 starters. Unfortunately, Verge series points run 15 deep... Oh the agony.
Now we have to wait another whole year for Gloucester to come back around. I'll have to make sure to get the Lederhosen ready ;)
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
My major goal for the race was not to get lapped. Last year, both the junior leader, and the women’s leader (Rebecca) lapped me on this course. As I was coming through the finish for my final lap, I could hear that Manny Goguen was behind me and about to finish. Determined to suffer through one more lap, I went as hard as I could to cross the line before he did, knowing that all that were still on the course behind me would no longer be a threat. I eased through the final lap with some weird noises coming from the bike (it was my first ride on carbon rims with tubulars, and it really sounded as if the cassette was off the hub), and finished somewhere around 13th. Not great, but I did achieve my goal, and would have remained upright through the race if not being forcibly taken out.
Despite predictions of rain, the day in Vermont turned out to be partly sunny, and PLENTY humid. That made for some dusty and tacky conditions, depending where you were on the course.
The course was long – almost 2 miles, and had more climbing than most of us are used to in a cross race! Despite a stair run-up and BMX-type uphill climb, it wasn’t a very technical course, and was described by many as more of a grass crit. That grass, however, sapped the strength out of your legs every time around…
After another week off the bike to go to Vegas, I was raring to go on Saturday. Unfortunately, I didn’t get my act together in time to pre-ride the course, so opted to do my complete warmup on the trainer, and see what was in store for me later (I did get some good course intel from other racers). A second row start wasn’t bad as I was quickly able to pass a number of people headed up the grass and onto what turned out to be my type of course. I knew it would be [relatively] short – only 30 mins, so I went into the red zone, and pushed as hard as I could, treating the race just like a TT.
At the end of the first lap, I was sitting in 7th place behind Blake and Christina from MRC/Landry’s. I managed to pass both of them going into the second lap, and pushed to try and stay ahead. Unfortunately, I made a tactical error thinking I could ride the stairs (yes, I tried it in a race situation first!), and lost some time when I was forced to dismount. Christina ended up pinching me out in the corner approaching the BMX uphill, and then couldn’t follow through over the hill, forcing me to stop and dismount! That set me off, and I chased, but was never able to catch back on. I did lose another place to Silke Wunderwald who was doing her first ever cross race (FWIW, she finished 7th in the W1/2 field at Fitchburg this year)! The course suited her well also, as it wasn’t that technical. I ended up finishing in 7th place overall, but ahead of Blake ;).
We spent the rest of the day watching many of our friends compete in the Men's 2/3 and Women's Elite fields, and then a number of us headed into downtown Burlington for a few beverages and some dinner. A fun way to end a great day of racing. Click here for more racing pics from Saturday (thanks to Steve L. for the photo on this page).
Sunday - Verge Day 2
Unlike the monsoon weather many of our teammates were facing in Bedford, Sunday in VT was again humid and started out foggy with a few sprinkles, but no heavy rain. The humidity and mist did cause the course to be wet, making the more technical course a little more slippery than the previous day.
The course was different than the previous day – more technical in nature, but still long and with some good climbing. The changes today included a long slog up to a run-up with three logs across the hill, a section of singletrack in the woods with a bridge crossing, and a screaming fast downhill that put you into a VERY tight chicane that while rideable, was faster to run. We then crossed another bridge and came at the barriers in the opposite direction from the previous day. It was definitely more challenging than the previous day, but also more fun.
I made sure to get out and pre-ride on Sunday to know the course before the race started. Things were a bit slippery in places, and there were definitely some good and some bad lines out there. I had somewhat over-cooked a corner on Saturday, and while not going down, managed to scare myself pretty darn well. I needed to be a little more conservative today…
I got a not great start off the line when Stacey M didn’t quite go on the whistle… Still managed to make up some places, and really moved up when I passed Leah and another racer who crashed in one of the first ruts on the course. The whole race for me was about catching the racer in front, which I managed to do a number of times. I even managed to catch and pass Silke at one point, but it was short-lived – she passed me back, I tried to get on her wheel, and she made me eat her dust.
In the end, my race ended up being between myself and Mary F – one of my main MTB competitors this season (and overall winner of the Root 66 Sport Women’s series). Going into the final chicane, I was ahead of Mary by a small amount, and Luke Keough was about to lap us both. Luke held back knowing we were about to finish our race (a real class act, especially since he was miles ahead of his next competitor), and I started to sprint up the finish hill. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Luke’s wheel, and then heard him say “C’mon, let’s sprint it out” as both he and Mary passed me by. At that point I didn’t have the legs to respond, and I ended up finishing 9th, one place behind Mary.
The race Sunday hurt, and apparently the pain was evident as I crossed the finish line with nothing left in the tank. Overhear on the loudspeaker was Richard Fries announcing to everyone that I was finishing, wearing a “mask of pain” ;).
Click here for more pics from Sunday.
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
It was a long week with lots of walking, but we had a great time! While Wayne and Mike ogled bikes and new bling for said bikes, Jean and I stood in lines for free stuff, and autographs ;). We ate at buffets, did the free beer surf, and of course, went to both 'Cross Vegas and the US Crit Championships.
Here are some pics and vids of the cool stuff, people and places we saw on this adventure - enjoy!
Cool bikes and gear
Redline cross bike; Any beer bike is cool, but a PBR bike is a must!
Look MTB; A replica of Tomac's first MTB
It sure looks fast!; Find 9 friends, and you have a great ride from Santana!
Awesome detail on a musical Waterford; MKR is lusting after this Ridley
Ritchey's 'cross bike; Sustainable bike building - from bamboo!
Campy's fancy display for the new 11-speed groupo; If he can't have the Ridley, he'll take the Ruegamer
The ecclectic Gary Fisher; Our own PK joining a select group of MTB Hall of Famers - congrats!
Joe Parkin wrote The Dog in a Hat; Oh wait - those aren't celebrities!
People and Sights
The lead pack in the race.
The chase group (and excuse my enthusiasm at Lance doing the dreaded double-hop remount...)
The finish - Trebon and Johnson (and is that our sponsor, Dave?)