Monday, December 29, 2008

KCCX Day 3

Okay, I've finally got some time to finish these posts up. Here we go.....

Masters 30-34.
Getting home and to bed at midnight sure made that 7am alarm go off very early. It's a bit like groundhog day at this point. Get up, eat something HOT for breakfast. It's winter now, I've got all day to be cold, why would I want to start the day like that? Make lots of piping hot coffee. Throw my race bag into the back of Matt's Man Truck with all the bikes and head out.

By the time I got to the races and got my stuff ready to go, Joe was just starting the Men 19-23 race. He ended up riding to 18th place which is awesome considering the competition. Intersting observation though... At the 35 minute mark everyone in the top 20 absolutely blew apart! Lap times got 15-25 seconds slower and all the small groups shattered. That's how hard the race was. Incredible. I rode next to Joe during parts of the race, giving him updates on how guys were riding. It was probably the best warm up I've done in a long time. That's forshadowing....

Masters 30-34.
Back row. I shouldn't even have had a number, just the initials DFL would have worked. The number series started at 500. I was number 2232. Ha! I utilized three different techniques for this race. 1) Jed Schneider: I lined up a full row behind the field. This allows me to clip in and get a running start at the other guys waiting for everyone in front of them. It also gives me a moment to look for any lanes that may develop. 2) Jensen: I went flying up the right side of the road, on the shoulder and away from any slow starters getting in my way. Then avoided a nasty crash across the finish line and into the grass. 3) Stolte: drive around guys like they're traffic barrels, don't be nice. I probably was in the top 25 or so guys coming off the pavement, which helped. Now is when the race gets hard.....

Groups were forming and fracturing, only to reform +/- a few guys. People were jumping and scrambling for better position. I made it a point to hit the, "GO!" button for the first lap and see where I was. At the end of lap 1, I heard I was top 20 and moving towards the group going for 13th- 18-something. Ahead of them by about 4-6 seconds was a group going for 8-12th. That's when I started noticing the absolutely incredible home-town crowd!

Some athletes claim to not hear crowd noise, some say they can spot a certain someone in a mass of humanity. The crowds weren't that big, relative to what was to be on Sunday, but I heard people yelling for me everywhere on the course. Thanks to all! Your support enabled me to perform that one bit extra. You allowed me to race with emotion, with the desire to excel beyond what I've done in CX before. I could not have done it without everyone!

At the end of lap 2 I had caught up to my team mate Matt Ankney who did me a magnificent favor by hitting it, full gas, across the finish stretch to put me on the tail end of the 13-18 group. Still the 8-12 group was in front of me dangling. Close, but farther than I would have liked. I jumped across on a steep uphill section. Why not? I wanted to do well, the crowd was going crazy for me, and what did I have to lose? Might as well try. I jumped, and my Scott CX bike flew across the gap on my super light wheels. Wow! I made it to this top 10 group. Myself making it the 8-11th group. Two guys were on the same team, motoring and making it a bit difficult to follow. The cumulative effect of the slinky in CX when you're at full throttle is brutal.

I made some attempts to be in second place but the guys weren't having any of it. There was a little bumping but nothing out of sorts. Actually, all of us raced very clean and very hard. The way sport should be. I decided, after about 2 laps with this going on, that I just needed to attack the two guys and see if I could separate them. Maybe I could even drop the other one too. I did drop the first of the two team mates, and the other one, but still had one with me. We rode a good race, unable to drop each other. Until two to go, when the fourth guy came back to us in what had to be an amazing recovery. In the end, he got away and I was racing a very good rider for 9th place.

I guess the important thing about CX is knowing how to ride to the maximum of your strengths while exploiting the weakness of your opponent. And that's what I did. My opponent was bigger than me and had a good jump on the flats. I'm not known for sprinting, but I can find a way..... I jumped him on a slight uphill section about 250m from the final asphalt section, went around a fast corner, up some stairs, around a hairpin corner where I saw Jeremy Haynes as I said, "It hurts," and finished 9th place.

At the finish line was Promoter/ CX team director Bill Marshall, happy about the performance. I was so exhausted I basically collapsed. And that is probably the hardest I've ever raced in my life.

Here's a pic of the result sheet. They line you up by number order. 500 was the first.