Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Weekend Update: First Time Crosser

Life has been super hectic lately and I can't seem to get caught up with anything. Every time I turn around there is something new staring me in the face that needs to get done, things are piling up badly! This past weekend was supposed to be an opportunity for me to get caught up a little but that didn't work out the way I had hoped.

First let me take a step back and talk about the week prior...

We had a mid week trip to Inter Bike...

Got a autograph with a cycling LEGEND.

(Happy) Mann Sandwich

... it didn't provide any solid leads on additional support for Allison's racing though. Not to let that dampen our spirits we seized the opportunity to cut loose on Wednesday night.

Got to mingle with the fast and famous.

Allison and I can ride bikes, but you won't see us on "So you think you can dance"

I drank way too much and Thursday was hurting, but I was all better by the weekend...

Saturday I had a BIG list of stuff to get done. Unfortunately I only checked a few items off. Allison and I did a great ride together on SJT (2.5hrs with some good efforts, around 58 minutes to Cocktail Rock, then the loop and down), visited 3 of the 4 Rock N' Road locations (bought many items, got the CruX fixed and ready for racing), and had a generally good day that ended with Mannimal Dan coming up to spend the night before the race in the morning.

Sunday was to be our first CX race (not just this season, ever.) Actually I wasn't sure I was going to race at all because A) I don't own a CX bike, and B) I have never ridden one before. Allison insisted that I race and borrow her sweet CruX Pro so that I don't feel left out of all the racing action and I gave in. I felt like a shit show in the morning, we arrived a bit later and I strained my neck/shoulder carrying the tent and other items down to the expo area. Pain and anxiety then took over and I was very short with Allison (sorry boos!).

I wanted to get a feel for a completely foreign bike/discipline so I suited up and jumped into the warm up for the race before mine. Luckily for me Ben Jones was rolling around on course as well and that set my mind at ease a bit, I have enjoyed racing with him and reading his blog. We were rolling around and chatting until I put a kink in things. I was trying to figure things out on the course/bike and decided to pass him on the outside going into a corner. The next thing I know there is a horrible spoke clanging on metal sound and we were both on the ground. (Sorry Ben, I am such a newb!) I kept a bit of distance after that...

My race time came around and Allison let me know that she needed her bike back ASAP after my race for her warm up (no pressure). I felt super awkward on the barriers, the run-up wasn't very long, my knee feels okay going uphill (flat ground or going downhill is not so bueno!). I know nothing about CX so I guess I missed the "staging" time. I had to work my way back to my group (Master's 35+ 3/4) through the Master's 35+ 1/2/3's. I picked a spot near the back and joked with the guys around me about not having a clue.

The start of CX is not what I am used to. In MTB we get a 30 second warning, then 15, then 5, then GO. CX was way different because I was standing there wondering if they were going to give us a warning, then a beep and I was left by myself wondering WTF... :) Needless to say I didn't have a good start position!

I was at least 20 spots back and had no idea what I was doing so I played it cool. I mostly sat in, got a feel for how others were riding, figured out race pace in a strange discipline on a strange bike, and tried not to fall on my face over the barriers.

While still on the first lap I figured out that I could save a lot of energy if I could get away from the roadies that couldn't rail the corners (they have more fitness than me and could afford to sprint out of every corner). I also figured out that people weren't going to be friendly as I got squeezed to the tape (both inside and out) several times.

By the end of the first lap I was getting comfortable, felt like I could actually race, was a bit peeved by the tactics, so I put the hammer down. I started making passes.

Anyone that tried to squeeze me would get it right back as soon as I was past them. I took one guy right to the tape after he spent several corners squeezing and blocking.

I was super stoked that I hadn't fallen over a barrier yet!

I had no idea where I was at in the field and just kept on the gas to move up as much as possible.

My cornering skills from MTB XC and DH racing definitely helped. I was able to close gaps in the corners and save energy not having to sprint out of them!

Coming to the finish on the last lap I had closed a gap on another rider and could have sprinted to the line but sat up instead. I figured that he was in a podium spot with the way he sprinted. I guessed maybe I was just outside the podium spots...

Wrong! I had won Master's 35+ 3/4. Big shocker for sure!

After the race I felt like I had given a good hard effort, but it didn't hurt like a MTB race even though I had picked up some goosebumps in the heat. The race just wasn't as long as I am used to working. I was no where near cramping.

So now I am requesting an upgrade. I want to race with the 1/2/3 guys. Not because I can do well, but because I like the challenge. I guess I should also look into a bike, not sure Allison will continue to be so kind loaning me her bike. She doesn't always share so well.... :)


Minh said...

What a sandbagger! =P

Vu said...

Congrats on your first cross race man! I didn't think you would dabble in cross because of your knee injury. Is that a person on the stripper pole in the background of that photo?

Justin said...

Yeah. I don't think she is a bike racer though.

Steven said...

Way to go Justin! Keep it up for the Annual in Nov. This blog is awesome and will look forward to more.