Monday, November 1, 2010

MAC Beacon Cyclocross

MAC # 7 took us back to the sandy fields of southern Jersey for one of the fastest cyclocross courses I have ever raced.
Starting with Lauren's race... Lauren has had some bad luck learning how to race this season. To paraphrase my teammate Stephan, shes putting all of these little bits and pieces of information (mostly bad luck type errors) into her Rolodex for later. I think its the case as she is improving and showing a lot of toughness when bad things happen (just wait for the MAC 8 HPCX post). Lauren has an issue with her gears off the start, but recovered. She moved up steadily and although several Lauren Festa Signature pouty faces were issued on the "Amphitheater of Pain" she was racing pretty strong. 
Then while following another girl through a sandy corner, Lauren was unable to avoid the other rider while she washed out in a corner and went down. Laur crashed pretty bad into the fallen rider and gashed he knee open. She popped up and pressed on, but the pain slowed her down a bit. 
The results may not be where she wants them yet, but the determination and even the speed/skills are there. It will eventually line up. At least she's having fun in the process. Put your hands back on the bars rookie.

And then there was my race. To make things really ridiculously hard insanely fast interesting, the promotors offered a Festina watch preme for the first ride to reach the top of the Amphitheater of Pain. I had a great start and settled into 2nd right behind Gerry. Clearly Gerry had his ice cream that morning because he was flying. I worked hard to hold his wheel knowing that I couldn't let him get too big a gap, and that if I kept it close I might be able to steal the preme from him. As we hit the sand I realized that idea was not going to happen. I got gapped running through the beach, (I prefer to take long walks, not 50 yd sprints). Gerry knew he had the separation and held the gap to the top of the AoP to take the watch.
Photo Credit: Denis Smith
The next 20 minutes played out like a road race. We were averaging over 16 mph for an avg speed, which is nuts. The only place I was really having trouble was the beach, other than that I felt good as I sat in on the group of Steven, Fred, Gerry and one unattached rider that had bridged up from way back. There were attacks launched by various parties, but nothing really got away. Early on Steven and I escaped off the front for half a lap as Fred and another rider got Tangled up. It seemed like Tom from C3 brought it back. Mark Flis was in the mix as well. I threw down an attack on a section before a couple tight turns prior to the AoP but I never got more than a few seconds. Nobody was faltering and nobody was getting away. 
Everything was together at the bell lap. I was sitting behind Gerry and Steven with some version of this in my head "How am I going to win, How am I going to win, ouchlegshurt, HowamIgoingtowin, HowamIgoingtowin." Fred made a great pass and come around me on the turn after a sandy uphill section. What made it a great pass was that I tried in vane not to let him by and protect my spot. My thoughts changed to "!@# !@#$ !@#$ this is bad too far back do something gogogo!" panic? maybe? Gerry made a move and took the front. I was 4th wheel heading down a long straight slightly downhill (tailwind?) section. I launched. It was a dumb place to go. I was far back, and it was the same spot I jumped earlier in the race. It was also right before the AoP. I got a gap. 
The gamble had paid off, so far. I took some risks through the next few corners and made it to the steps with separation. I pinned it up the AoP. The announcer was going nuts. I had forgotten how close the finish was the steps but I knew I had 3 or 4 key corners to get through and just tried to break it up into pieces. I got through the last and sketchiest one and turned onto the pavement for th uphill sprint to the line. As I rounded the corner I expected to see four dudes right on my wheel, but surprisingly I still had 25 ft of gap. I sprinted, with my head partially on a swivel, just praying for the line.

 Finally I felt safe and put it in celebration mode. I cannot believe still, two days later that the move worked. 
Photo Credit: Denis Smith

The team did great. 4 guys made it into the top 15 despite some crashes, broken fingers and mechanicals. Next up MAC #8 at HPCX.
Photo: Matt Harris