Friday, October 23, 2009
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Saturday - Casco Bay
This was the first race put on by the good folks at Bikeman. The venue was beautiful - right on the Bay in Portland, ME. The course looked like a lot of fun, but with all of the running sections, I was glad that I made the call to be on the sidelines. As it was, I probably ended up walking the course twice between managing in the pits, and taking photos of Mike's races.
Michele and I were pit crew and cheering squad
Mike lined up for the Master's 35+ race, along with Todd and Alexis. The initial pace was pretty fast, and Wheels initiated a gap early, with Mike running in second place. He was soon joined by Al and Ryan from Bikeman though, and was gapped. A technical challenge forced Al to pit, Mike got by him, and Al, unfortunately, had a flat on his pit bike, ending his race. With a solid effort, Mike maintained a third place finish!
All along, Mike had planned on doubling up - racing the Master's race and then the Elite 1/2/3 race later in the day. After the effort of the first race, he wasn't so sure about doing a second. He did end up registering and pinning on his number though, and lined up for another go at the course. This time, he managed a great start, and maintained a gap over fifth place (after an impressive pass on a run-up) to finish fourth (although with another lap, he MAY have managed to catch Colin M.).
Oreo was less impressed by the second race...
Mike and Pete S coming up the run up
Todd; Mike over the barriers
The weather was stellar throughout the day, and I had a blast watching all the races, and cheering on friends. Maybe I could get used to this ;).
Sunday - MRC Wrentham
As nice as the weather was on Saturday, it was the diabolic OPPOSITE on Sunday. Cold, wet, windy... But, I still suited up and trudged out to Wrentham to cheer on Mike and the Master's racers (sorry to everyone else, but it was WAY too nasty to be out for more than one race!). Given all the walking I had done the previous day, I took my chair, my rain gear and my umbrella, and planted myself under the only tree in the field. It was still cold and wet!
With the weather, and the muddy conditions, Mike opted to race his new SSCX bike - a Felt. And then he convinced Thom P to race his SS (although it was his MTB) instead of his brandy-new geared 'cross bike ;). Mike had a great start, and came by me leading the pack. He later said, though, that he was over-geared on his bike - and I could see it on the long straights in the mud - he struggled to turn the pedals over. He ended up doing well, and finishing 4th overall again.
We didn't wait around for results - too wet and cold. And I'm glad we didn't wait any longer than necessary - we ended up driving home in a snowstorm! ACK!
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
I raced at Roger William’s Park for the first time in 2006 – for ‘Cross Nationals. I remember the course being difficult, with lots of power sections and some technical handling skills required. I was happy to see that hadn’t changed ;). I had a reasonable start into the grassy section, but managed to let myself get “squeezed out” by a couple more aggressive racers entering the first turns. At one point, entering "the bowl", I had a terrific uphill line to the right around several stalled riders. Unfortunately, one of them moved into my line forcing me to dismount, and nearly kick Michele H in the head!
Knowing I was still sitting in the top 10, I pushed as hard as I could, having to yell at a Quad Cycles racer at one point as she ran a hill I was riding – she kept cutting into my line! I ended up giving up a few places in the final lap of the race – just didn’t have the legs to go any harder. I know I raced well, and I was happy with the day.
After changing up and grabbing some food, it was time for me to cheer Mike on in his race. He told me that I didn't need to be in the pits - his bike was there if he needed it. So, I found my friends Susan and ML, and we watched the race from the barriers. As the Master's men came by for the first lap, I was concerned - Mike wasn't where he should have been. After LOTS of racing, you get to know where someone should be in a race - Mike was too far back, and I knew something had happened. Sure enough, as he came through, I could see from the dirt on his leg that he had gone down.
I continued to watch from the same spot. Lots of people will tell you that I can be a little, well, loud when I'm cheering. As Mike made his way through the "spaghetti bowl" and the "whoopdy-doos", I yelled again. He heard me, and yelled that he needed a bike. Uh-oh. I literally dropped my camera, my bag and my partially eaten bologna sandwich right then, and proceeded to SPRINT across the venue to the pit - in my clogs. As I was running, I thought about ditching the shoes, but changed my mind. Later, friends would tell me that don't think they had ever seen me move so fast - guess I need to practice that WHILE RACING!
On the whistle, I wanted to get a better start than the previous day when I got boxed out slowing for the first corner in the pavement/grass transition. I sprinted up the hill and hit the hole shot second wheel behind Natalia G - sweet! Kathy proceeded to pass me on the straight grass section and then crash in the second corner. I took her advice and took advantage, got by her and continued chasing Natalia ;). (Photo by Geoff M.)
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I heard the rain hitting the skylight in the night, and inwardly groaned – ANOTHER race in the rain, cold and mud. After a season of 7 MTB races in the same conditions, my motivation for the first day of Gloucester – a race I look forward to all year, was gone. A pre-ride of the course confirmed that the race would be slick and VERY muddy. I retreated to the trainer, and actually managed to get warmed up – until we went to stage. The wind off the ocean, the sideways rain, and the cool temps negated everything I had just done. I shivered with teeth chattering until it was time for us to start.
The one heartening thing pre-race? I was FAR from alone. Seventy-five women took the line in monsoon-like conditions. Guess we were all a bit crazy. It is really incredible, though, to see that many women racing. Where were they all during the road and MTB seasons????
I did have a good start to the race, leading the pack about halfway up the hill. Most of the rest of the race is a blur to me – a lot of sideways sliding, more running than I care for, and a lot of thinking about being finished. I did actually pit my bike after a lap and a half – that was good practice for me, and also illustrated how differently my two bikes handled in the conditions. After finishing up, I changed into dry clothes, proceeded to work the pits for Mike’s race, and was soaked through again. It wasn’t until much later in the evening that I felt warm, and dry!
Mike had an AWESOME day on the bike! Watching from the pits, I couldn't see how he was managing in the technical sections of the course, but he finished the day in 10th place in the Masters 1/2/3 35+ field, so he CLEARLY was riding those sections, and everything else, well!
My motivation came back on Sunday. The weather was improving, temps were rising, and the slippery, muddy conditions were tacking up and improving. The big challenge was figuring out the course – most of us couldn’t make heads or tails of which way it went!
I chose NOT to pre-ride the course, but instead, to sit on the trainer to get warmed up. I knew that once the race started, as long as I followed tape, I would find the course and be ok ;). Sunday was more about power, but there were also a lot of turns, which I have been practicing. Got another good start, but was worried when I heard that a rider had gone down. Couldn’t look back to see if everyone was ok though – head was down sprinting for the hole shot. I ended up onto the grass about 3rd wheel, and rode a reasonably clean race. Mike’s advice on not shouldering the bike in the chicanes was good, and let me use the bike as a pivot point to get around those tight corners while running. I was able to ride into the barrier section pretty well, also, and not lose any time there. I felt much better on Sunday, and was slightly upset at losing 3 places in the final turns of the course – and losing the final sprint to my nemesis, Karen T.
The great news for me? I had a better second day at Gloucester than the first, which hasn’t happened since I started racing at that venue! I also didn’t crash at Gloucester this year – another first and a bit of a surprise given the conditions.
Mike had another good day on the bike, and released me from pit duty so I could go out and capture some photos of his race too:
We ended up spending most of the day after we were both done racing, hanging with friends and partaking in the beer tent. It was a great way to celebrate another "epic" weekend of racing!