Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Cross Crusades PIR

Photo Credit: David Fox

This last Sunday's Cross Crusades race at PIR was simultaneously the best cross race I've had in long time and the worst race I've had.

I felt good. The weather was almost perfect. And the course suites me (It's flat.).

I didn't get a very good call up. Which seems to be just the way it works this year. I wasn't at the very back but I wasn't at the front either. Meh... What do you do? 

Once the race was under way I spent almost the first full lap passing the flood of riders that got a better hole shot than me. But I was still feeling pretty good. I was maybe past my red line a little bit but I throttled it back to a more manageable level.

The course was very dry by past standards. Last year the mud and water was hub high in a few spots. This year the ground was damp but never muddy. And it seemed that as the day went on the course got faster and faster.

Besides the fact that the course if reasonably flat. The other part that I like about it was that with the exception of the barriers on the course it was completely ridable. I have discovered in no uncertain terms (I'll discuss this in more detail in a minute.) that I SUCK at running. Pretty much any run up on a course costs me time. I've been working on it in practice a little. But I obviously need to put a lot more time in it if I ever expect to improve. Anyway, back to the race...

The first lap went pretty well. But because we were on the course with the Cat C's and I never really knew where I was in the grand scheme of things but I just kept plugging away. There really isn't a place to rest on a course, which I like. One thing I could definitely complain about were the bumpy grass areas on the track. Holy crap those things were brutal! I kept trying a different line hoping I'd find one that wasn't as bad as the rest. But they were all bad.

Once we started into the second lap I had to dial my effort back a bit. I kind of found myself in no man's land between a couple of bunches and knew I wasn't going to catch the group ahead without popping. So I kept it under sub-puke and hoped for the best.

After a while I was trading positions with a couple other guys once lap three rolled around. Which was good to keep my motivation high and as it is one of the real beauties of cross racing we were all pretty evenly matched. The race within the race as it were. It always makes for a fun time.

And then it started to happen....

I felt my chain start to skip.  I looked back to see if there was some mud or debris in the drive train but everything looked okay.

I started to think that maybe it was the shifter cable sticking (A problem I have dealt with a ton of times in the past. Although usually only when its super sloppy.). So I started shifting to different gears hoping that it would stop. But it didn't. If anything it was getting worse. So I just told myself I could live with it if it didn't get any worse.

As I went from an off camber section of the trail to a hill the chain snapped.


So I grabbed the chain and start running.  Anywhere I could roll it downhill I rode and anywhere the course was flat I scooted it along like a razor scooter.

I was absolutely hemorrhaging places like there was no tomorrow. All I could think about in my brain hazed state was that maybe the pit mechanic could fix it or God willing one of my teammates has a bike there.

As I rolled around a couple teammates passed me. And I yell at them to have Adam (He raced the beginners so he was done with his ride.) put his bike in the pit. As I was running into the pit I asked if there is a team bike? NO. Can they fix the chain? NO.

So without putting to much thought into it I continued to jog out of the pit and out on the course again. I just kept hoping that maybe once I got back around Adam's bike would be there. Hell, at this point I would have taken anything that I could pedal instead of push.

My personal saviour Steve.

I was, shuffling, would be the best way to describe it. Around the course just really wanting the whole thing to be over. And as I finally made my way back to the pit area from the other side of the course I see my saviour. Only it's not Adam. It's Steve from Buy Local Cycling (The sister team to Capitol Velo.). He's in the pit putting his extra bike in for his race and I yelled, pleaded and begged him to let me finish this mother fucking race on his bike. Which he gladly did (Thanks Steve. I owe you a beer, food, or a Bugatti.).

He and I didn't have the same pedals so its was a little awkward but it got the job done. I eventually rolled across the line.

I went from 15th (The guy I was riding with ended up there. And I'm pretty sure I could have taken him by the end.) to 62nd. But I finished. And by that point that's all I really cared about.

I rode Steve's bike back to the pit and SLOWLY walked my way back to the tents. Holy shit was I spent.

Brison mid nose bleed.

Once I got back I heard poor Brison had similar luck.  He got a nose bleed almost instantly as the race started. Wrecked a couple of times and broke his derailleur hanger which pretty much ended his race right there.

Adam looking cool as a cucumber.

Adam's race conversely went pretty well. He ended up in the front third of the results (42nd out of 137 starters I believe.) He looked good every time he went by. But I guess he was having some dropped chain issues. So at least it was a total wash for us.

Once we got our crap together and headed back to the vehicles Adam and Jenni had a really nice BBQ set up. It's amazing how much sunnier everything seams once you have a beer and burger in your stomach.

So that was it. in a nutshell. What can you do? Sometimes you're the hammer. Sometimes you're the nail. And we both just got nailed that day.

But we will be back! And we shall prevail!

I'm test riding the new Ultegra DI2 on a Trek 6 series tonight. I should have a review up soon. I think I may review the bike and the groupo separately. We shall see...

Thanks for reading!

Big thank you to David Fox for the beautiful photos. All but the picture of Adam are from him.

Rubber side down,

Big E

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