Saturday, September 24, 2011

NEOCX #4 Stark Velo

Well another race is in the books. Didn't go as planned, actually it went exactly how I envisioned it, but didn't go as I planned. The course was located at the Kent State Stark campus. I had ridden there with my group I do cross practice the week before and know somewhat of how the course would go. I know that it was going to be generally flat, with a couple technical places, and only one hill to really contend with. I knew this may not be the course for me. This was a course suited for the powerful riders I had one hope, and it looked plausible leading up to the week before the race. My last hope was mud and rain. If the conditions were bad, then I might have a chance to make up time with my bike handling skills.

Friday morning I woke up to clouds and rain. Good, it had rained a couple days this week, and I had gotten my one ride this week in wet conditions, purposely leaving dry weather tires to get used to sliding in mud. Then it turned worse, it got sunny!! And it stayed sunny all day Friday and I woke up to sun on Saturday. Well, this wasn't going to go well for me.

Lined up on the outside of the start line knowing I would be to the inside on the first turn. The race started and I had a killer start, up to second place and closing on the leader. That's when things started to unravel for me. I just didn't have the legs for the long straights with no recovery time. Each lap took more and more out of me and I slid from 2nd to 18th by the time the race ended. I had a slow training week as I only had one day on the bike due to some last minute changes in schedule. Not happy wit how I finished but that's life. I'll get back on the bike and ride hard this week to be ready for the Brooklyn rec race that my team is putting on.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Why I love Cyclocross

First and foremost. It is by far the most difficult racing I have done. Sure, I've probably put more effort into a mountain bike racers, and suffered more during a road race. But there's just so much more involved in cyclocross. It's the pure fact that everyone is packed into a smaller course, during a much shorter course. It all comes at you so fast, and you have no time to recover.

Second, it's a whole hell of a lot of fun. If you step back and look at the sport, you can see the absurdity of the whole thing. Let's take road bikes with slightly knobby tires, make a arbitrary course in a park somewhere and make them ride around in the mud, jump over plywood and watch as they trundle up hills. All during a time when most our hanging up their bikes. Unlike road racing or mountain bike racing where you go from point a to point b, there's no destination. It just looks like a bunch of road cyclist got lost in a field and can't find their way out. I love that, and it takes some of the pressure of me as a racer. I can just enjoy myself, and truthfully, that's when I do best.

The fellowship, we are a close knit group of masochists who enjoy the suffering.

The gear! There's not sport where it's normal to show up with two bikes, and panoply of wheels. Along with a ton of different clothes to match the weather. I'm a gear nerd and love perfecting my bike, and my tire selection. Playing around with tire pressure.

It gives me something to do after a long season. I'm surrounded by roadies and mountain bikers who are all sad because their seasons have ended or are close to ending. I on the other hand have something to look forward to and I can get excited about. Something that's similar but different enough to keep me interested, after doing the same routine since January.

Lastly, and for me this year most importanly, it gives me a second chance. If you've not met the goals for your road or mountain bike season, you get a second chance at redemption. There were 2-3 weeks between the last road race and the first cyclocross race which gives you a couple days of recovery and then you can start from scratch and reinvent yourself.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Cyclocross Season has arrived

Today marked my return to cyclocross after taking a year off last year due to injury. Today was an important day because it would tell me where I was in my fitness and how much I loved the sport. I had been gearing up for cross for about a month now of actual workouts geared towards cross, although truthfully, I had viewed everything I had done this summer geared towards cross. I had been excited for it last year, but my broken collarbone took me out a week before the first race. So my main goal for this year was simply to make it to cross and enjoy it.

Well despite some scares, I made it to the first race in perfect health. So I went into today with realistic hopes, but fear bit of apprehension. I haven't done this in a year, I had no clue how I'd react. I banked my whole season on these races, not only for doing well, but for completing my races for the year. So I had better enjoy it, because I had signed myself up for the entire season.

Two races went off before me, and between each race I was able to do a warm up lap of the course. It definitely was a good course. From what I heard a lot more singletrack, which was fine by me since part of my training has been riding my cross bike on the mtb trails in the area. The course has a couple obstacles to deal with, a sand pit, 3 log crossings on the singletrack (two you could hope, the third you had to dismount) and then two barriers before the end. I picked my tires, figured out their pressure and got ready to race.

The race started well for me, I got a great start and had finally successfully placed myself towards the front of the race. I lost a couple positions in a gravel turn as I got pinched on the inside in the loose gravel. But held my place up until the trip down the sand pit. After that point I started ever heating and couldn't get cooled down again. As my core temperature rose i lost more and more of my power until the third lap when I came undone. My mom luckily was there handing me bottles each lap and each lap I would take in as much water as I could and toss the bottle. On the third lap I had to stop because I was getting dizzy and was about to throw up. I composed myself and carried on hoping to finish the race. Coming into the stadium section of the start area I blacked out on the top of the climb just barely composing myself before I went off course. At that point I decided my race was done and there would be another race to fight for. So I pulled off.

Truthfully, even though it was a pretty poor race for me, bordering horrible. I feel really good after this race. Everything I had control over went perfectly. My dismounts and remounts were good, tire choice and pressure was perfect. My cornering was good, I was holding enough speed that I was on the course tape coming out of each turn. I had some fun in the sand pit, I still think that if I had not been so out of it because of the weather I could ridden that section, as that's the kind of thing I'm good at. The only thing that went wrong was something out of my control, and that was record high heat. So everything I could control was perfect and my race was undone by something out of control, and something that won't come up again this season. So it's time to get ready for next week.