Monday, September 17, 2012

Nittany CX UCI

The first stop in the "Lauren and Mike Take Back Cyclocross From the Hands of Elderly Cadillac Drivers Who Live In Mobile Homes World Tour" (LAMTBCFTHOECDWLIMHWT) pulled into Trexlertown to race Nittany. I would be my first UCI C2 level event, ever, and only my 5th elite race, ever. It would be Lauren's first cx race since 2010. My goal was simply to not get lapped. Lauren's was a little bit more exciting.
Saturday: 
Lauren killed it. She started on the 3rd row, and rode up from the mid twenties to the teens in a 1/4 of a lap. She put it in seek and destroy mode for the rest of the race, before linking up with her teammate Dana. Dana and Lauren worked in pursuit of the lone leader from JAM Fund, with Linda from Bicycle Therapy in pursuit. Another girl ended up seeking through when the girls ran into some of the masters and lapped traffic. Linda was able to take the lead of the group entering the final part of the lap. Lauren did her best to take her in a sprint but came up a bit short. 4th overall. Welcome back.

After taking what seemed like 23 warm up laps with Steve throughout the day, I think I had the course down.
Jeremy Powers was the stand out big name. There was enough regional talent to keep him going pretty quick and I was going to have to try pretty hard not to get 80% ruled. (must be within 80% of leaders time) 
Photo Dennis Smith
When I went through the team tent area on lap 1, I believe all I said was "oh my god". The start was faster than anything I have ever done. I hung on and found a good group. 

Photo #notcoolgorka
Sitting there much of the race all was well until I had some trouble with my rear tire. It lost some pressure and with 2 to go I pitted to get a new wheel. What I didnt know was I had maybe 30 seconds until I was pulled for the 80% rule. It took 45 seconds to get the wheel on, and as soon as I exited the pit I was pulled, and insta-pissed off. had I not taken the wheel, I would have finished on the lead lap. S'alright. 

Sunday:
After Lauren's good ride the day before she told me in the car she wanted to put her hands up in the air. She did, but in frustration... the cross gods were not nice to Lauren Sunday. Starting in the 3rd row again as series points are not calculated overnight, Lauren was forced to ride through traffic again. The task proved a bit too much as the bunch caught the masters riders who started a minute in front of the 3/4 women in roughly 16 feet... kidding but the stagger was overcome probably 1/2 way through the lap. The 3/4 was wasn't spread out enough yet and the traffic caused some issues for L. At least 2 more times she got held up behind some bobbles and after struggling most of the day ended 14th. Her best placing in 2010 was 15th... with a smaller field. Lauren wins.

I was pretty mad at myself after Saturday. To make things easier on myself, I was awarded a nearly last row start. #UCILotto. There were 4 people behind me at the start. No worries though, I found my way to dead last after hitting a small speed killing rut early on. I looked behind me and realized I was last wheel. We went up into the run up. I have never experienced such chaos. It was unbearably loud. It was so dusty I couldn't see my feet. You're running through people and bikes, it was dark. It was awesome in every sense of the word. 
I didnt see it but the leader through that section did this: 
Photo Pat Engleman
I didn't hit the panic button and sat on until things opened up a bit. it did and I worked on moving up the best I could. Somebody must have bumped my rear derailiuer in the run up as it was now clinking my spokes in certain gears. Pit bike, amazing hand off from G lo and Lauren. Sram support fixed up my hanger and after a lap of gimping around on my teammates bike, I found mine again after another perfect handoff.
4 to go. Determined to not get pulled today, I kept working through the riders I could catch. I was chased hard by a group of 3 the last lap, but managed to hold them off. 34th. On the lead lap. Insane. 

The whole weekend was rad. The race was very well promoted. My teammates and friends rock, the heckling and small amount of cheering really helps. I heard all of you, although I the tunnel vision prevented me from making eye contact with anyone.

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