Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Ups and Downs

With the first CX race out of the way for the season in Vegas, and a very expensive collision with a Wile E Coyote in the TDI on the way home, it was time to kick off the Socal Cross Series.

This year the first race was held in Downtown LA.  This urban setting was in stark contrast to the rural Irvine Lake season opener last year that was my first experience with a cross bike/race.  Since this race was a one day only race, we had Saturday free to enjoy ourselves.  (Translation: ride bikes and do race prep)  One of the big downsides to racing so much is having to race prep the bikes so often!

In any case after a fun spin on the CX bikes (LOVE my Specialized CruX!!) on Saturday and a bunch of race prepping we headed to LA on Sunday morning to get our race on.  I had a bit different of a setup on my bike with some Kenda Small Block 8's on the Mavic Ksyrium wheels from my road bike. (read lighter than stock wheels)

I had tried them out on Saturday on our ride and they seemed to work really well for our dusty dry Socal conditions while rolling really well on the pavement.  The compound feels good (soft and supple) and they have lots of siping in the tread for traction.  I can't comment on longevity, but when new these tires are quite good.

Once at the races we got checked in and wandered around talking to race buddies.  Eventually I kitted up and checked out the course.  It was a really fun course with a set of stairs, typically tall UCI barriers, and a fun "BMX" section with some small jump-like obstacles.  It was definitely going to be hot and dusty so I was really glad we brought our spray bottle of Kool N Fit!

This stuff works great and really helps I think.  You can purchase it at Rock N' Road Cyclery.

There were no call-ups for the first race of the year so I cut my warm-up a bit short and got a spot in staging.  There were a bunch of guys already standing around and when we finally lined up I was near enough to the front.  Off the start I made a good move and had the right gear putting me in the front, PERFECT.

I might have had the hole shot but I let up a bit as I was worried about going too hard.

Pretty sure the above picture illustrates that I was about 6th wheel.  I was very fortunate to not go down harder on an off camber grass right hander when I tried to pedal through it and got a pedal strike, NOT PERFECT.  As the race wore on there was  one rider off the front with a good sized gap, and three of us in a chase pack.

No need to hop this high dummy!  Wasted energy.
At first it seemed that we were going to work together but I am not so good with these tactics and pulled on what seemed like the longest headwind section of the lap.  I was feeling a bit tapped out so I hoped to sit on and recover a bit.

Chase pack in this shot.

That is exactly when the eventual second place finisher put in a dig.  The other guy in the group of three accelerated to chase, then sat up and I was indecisive.  I was worried that if I pulled again I would pop so I didn't.

Not fast enough through the barriers, these guys are good and were gaining a few feet on me here.
Lesson #1 learned.  If I can chase, chase.  For the rest of the race I was "racing for third" (quote from JV of Team Garmin Cervelo, Allison and I will forever remember that footage!) and was decisively the second loser after shutting it down to save some energy for the Elite race.

Wrong step, I was third but was in a hurry to get over for Elite race staging.
I wasn't feeling so great after the 35+ race so I didn't know what to expect from my Elite race.  I was lined up towards the back of the group (pretty sure I was 5th row) because I just didn't want to be in the way of the fast guys if I was sucking.  Again I had a decent start and moved up some but not far enough to get clean air for my intake.

I sucked copious amounts of dirt into my engine!  Maybe trying to sprint while holding my breath to not suck dirt is a bad idea...

Maybe I need one of these in case I decide to race Elite again...

I dangled off the back of the second group for a long time (it seemed like forever but was probably only a couple laps) till I made a mistake in a corner and went down.  I was really fatigued and took a moment to get going again.  A few riders came back to me from the group ahead and when Casey Williams came back I decided that maybe we could work together.  On the long Start straight I gave him a solid push and said "Lets go!".  He tucked down and started drilling it so I jumped on.  Towards the end of the straight I called up not to blow and he said he already had (could have fooled me!) so I offered to pull into the wind.

Random picture of me suffering, does not correlate with story as my leg isn't dirty from the first mistake.
The rest of the lap I pulled and he recovered.  Soon another rider drifted back and when Casey and this other rider accelerated exchanging attacks I was left solo.  Lesson #2: Casey Williams will recover and rip my legs off if I help him.  By solo I mean I felt like I was the last guy on course!  Several places where the course looped back on itself I was looking for any riders behind and there was no one!  I reminded myself that I was out here for the workout so I put my head down and tried to keep the power going.

Now my leg is dirty, the group in the background is where I wish I was!
A bit later (once again it seemed like forever) another rider came back from the group ahead.  We only had a couple laps left in the race and I just wanted to finish out my workout but this dude had other motives.  He wanted to play games and see if he could stay ahead of me at all cost.  To that end he proceeded to soft pedal and block me and push me into the tape.  It was really aggravating and after being slammed to the tape 5 or so times I got a bit mad (STUPID).  Really I just wanted to get my workout in, there is no glory in battling for 20th place!  Anyway I managed to pull up next to him and instead of focusing on accelerating past him I threw an elbow.  Not sure what happened next but I found myself slamming to the ground.  Lesson #3: Don't fuck around battling for 20th if someone wants to race like that; either get by cleanly, drop back, or better yet pull out of the race because it is so not worth it.

Crashing was all the excuse I needed to quit so I walked off course and sat down, glad that the suffering was over for the day.  (QUITTER!)  I think this is the first race I have ever quit.  I honestly don't know why I had such anxiety about it.  Quitting isn't so bad...  :)

The injury tally; deep abrasions on my left knee, left elbow, left shoulder, and a massive contusion on my left hip.  So. Not. Worth. It.  Lots of trips to the freezer for ice bags, pain, and wasted money on bandages...

Despite still being quite stiff and sore I got back on the bike today after taking Monday off entirely and did a nice steady ride with the wife. I love riding bikes with her!

Need to start being disciplined with my eating, I look chubby!
See you at the next one! (hopefully ready to rock with injuries mostly healed...)

1 comment:

allison said...

Look at TDF races from the side. Everyone calls it "belly breathing" :D

Hey there, cookie...what's that you're wearing?