Monday, September 22, 2008

Cross Season 1; Adam 0: Hermann Lightless Cross

Expectations were high, bikes were clean, and team kits were fresh out of the plastic. But by the end, egos were crushed, breaks were vaporized, and bikes blended with mud. Yes. Cross is humbling. Very much indeed.

Hermann Lightless Cross
We jump in the Shad-juar and we're off... again. Myself, Joe, Shadd, and John Giles (the star in my CX practice movie). But, just to be a bit under the radar, as if the 3 bikes on top of the car wasn't a huge attention getter, it was decided that we should be on the down low...... You know, FBI style.

I'm racing for a new CX team this year: KCCX. It's a CX team put together by Bill Marshall and KLM Marketing to promote the sport and 2008 Cross Nationals being in Kansas City. Expectations were high going into this race. We had 4 guys on the front line so we better at least start off the season looking good.

The course: Start line, 100m, U-Turn, 40m, 1,2,3,4 U-turns back to back to b- get the idea, 10m, U-turn to 2 barriers, around a hut, down a screaming fast hill, 3 more U-turns, MUD like this, 200m pavement, U-Turn, more pavement, Stairs, finish line. Oh the "Stairs" video is from the race.

I forgot to mention, the whole thing was at night! Yup, first CX race at night! How cool is that?! It hides the faces of agonizing pain I'm making the entire time. Ha.

I got my first ever call up in a CX race.
I started out okay, better than I ever really have, 5th into the first U-Turn, which meant I had good placing until the course opened up again in about 1/4 a lap. I sort of tensed up on the downhill and lost some spots, got them back and was sitting at 7th at the end of lap 2.

That's when the problems started.... Crashed into the barriers, I think someone ran into me from the inside? Got back on terms, only to have mud shoot into both of my eyes later in the lap! Shit! (literally, it was) Riding at night on a U-Turn infested course without the ability to see is equal to a blind man driving during rush hour traffic in Dallas! I lost about 8 spots and was sitting 15th. Totally gassed, and demoralized.

I decided I should at least ride around for the remainder of the race just for a workout. That's when I noticed I wasn't losing time to any of my immediate competitors up the road (thanks to a tow from Bill Marshall). So, I went back into race mode and started really riding again. Caught a couple, a couple had mechanicals, a couple crashed and I'm in 8th place. Through all this Jeff Winkler was right on me, forcing me to race the entire time. Normally, that's good as I need to race the entire time. But tonight, it was tough. Jeff is an excellent rider and every move I made was neutralized. However, in the end I barely managed to hold off Jeff for the final spot. Check Results here. Now, on to the next step...

Clean Up.
Bad. My bike had probably 7-8 pounds of mud and grass caked on. Now I need to overhaul the thing.... Blah.

My synopsis of Cross..... Hard. Really hard. Humbling. Embarrassing. I forgot how long 60+1 is in a Cross race, especially if you're actually racing! Oh and I HATE U-Turns, but the promoter didn't really have much of a choice other than U-Turns or 3 minute laps. The rains of last week (Hurricane Ike I believe) flooded the better part of the park and we were lucky to even have the race at all. I don't turn on grass fast yet. What happened to those days where I would slide out on purpose? Time to relearn bike driving skills. I'm not fit for CX at all! I couldn't even race for 3 laps (14 minutes) without going into melt down mode. Apparently, I have some work to do.....

The race was, overall, excellent. The best was made from a crappy situation with the flooding and it was a cruel reminder to everyone that there is work to be done.

Josh Johnson: You seem to have corrected your slow starting issues from last year. Great ride, you were my "favorite pic" in this race.

Bill Stolte: Ride of the day. Sorry Josh. Bill started in DFL and was in the top 10 on a tight, technical course before the first lap was over. He did it the way bike racers do, by going flat out and taking risks. 4th place.

Joe Schmalz: In the top 10, started DFL +1, but decided it was too easy with all that air in his tires... then he realized that flat tires don't roll so good. But he DID have the 5th fastest lap of the night.

One improvement: I would have liked this race to have been in the middle of the afternoon. Not so much for the lighting thing, but for the Hermann thing. I don't think I talked to anyone who was staying overnight. I would have appreciated the opportunity to clean up, and go wine tasting all evening. Perhaps for the MO state CX championships, there could be a more "tourism friendly" schedule.