Thursday, October 17, 2013

Half of Cyclocross Season: UCI Races and Rants, Grassroots Fun.

Let me start by saying, I love cyclocross. Its by far my favorite cycling race format. I get to be equal parts roadie (nerd) and mountain biker (Mountain Dew Slammer). The races are short, which makes them attention span friendly, and for the first half of the season, the weather is warm. 

UCI Ass Kicking:
There were 4 so far. We start at Nittany Cross. I wrote about that last time...

Charm City went a little better. The race itself is awesome, one of my favorites, despite Baltimore being about as sketchy as Bangkok. Last year at Charm I rode better than usually and found the money in a UCI race. I felt amazing that day. I tried my best to repeat that, and had a great ride on day 1, but in typical fashion finished 2 spots out of a payday, burning every match I had, and racing for a total of 71 minutes. That's a really really long cross race. One thing I was happy with was my sand pit skills. I typically suck there, but I was actually able to use it to attack my friends on the last lap and win my group. Day 2, went a little worse. Bad start, tired legs. I resorted to having fun, but still trying to make the lead lap. I found some guys to race and we moved up together.

UCI RANT: I got pulled. Normally I am cool with this,. I get the 80% rule and I do not want to get in the way of the leaders. Here's what happened. I had 2 riders in front of me. They were riding better than me and got a slight gap on me after I had made the bridge. We were entering the bell lap, meaning as soon as we all crossed the line we would never be passed by the finishing leaders a couple min behind us. I entered the 180 degree turn onto the road section with a 20 foot gap to close. I wanted to close the gap so I could draft in the headwind sections coming up, so I launched hard and started to close the 1 second gap. The pair of riders goes through. I get pulled. I literally had to ride 50 more feet and would never be touched by the leaders as they were wrapping up behind me. I obeyed the official and pull off. I realize what has just happened and sans profanity start arguing with the official with the logic I just laid out. His response "I'm enforcing the rule" in a stern tone. I told him to use his head and let me race the 2 guys in front of me. He then sarcastically said he would "mark it down that I should have beat them". If I was 100 lbs overweight surrounded by ridiculously good looking skinny dudes getting rad, maybe I would be upset too... but there's no reason to be like that. I rolled over to the officials trailer, and they also wanted none of it. I should expect this from the UCI/USAC but the blind enforcement of a rule that made no sense in the time it was executed is par for the course. 
Always time for these. Photo Dennis Smith
Town Hall: PACX, The fields are not as deep but payout isn't, so racing at the front it pretty tough. New England Holy week took away a lot of the big names which left myself and some familiar faces at the front. On a course that usually spreads the race out pretty quickly, 5 of us formed a group. I admittedly was hurting a bit and couldn't move out of 4th after taking the holeshot and leading much of lap 1. It was an exciting race. Gerry took off first, then Greg Whitney, I got gapped a few times then clawed back in it, On the top of the "St Luke's Staircase" I attacked, moved into 2nd and had a 3 to 5 second gap to catch Gerry. Gerry held me off, but my surges held off the rest of the chasers and I held 2nd. The promoters handed out Bells Two Hearted. Promoters take note. 
Men's Elite Podium


Whirlybird: A MAC race, but not UCI... a field smaller than the payout... means you MUST finish or else you are leaving money on the course. I got a last row call up... I moved half way up the field, and promptly blew my rear derailleur apart, along with messing up my rear wheel. I bounced around on my pit bike for 6 more laps, nearly killing myself to beat Hal Batdorf with Craig's roadie tactic help. I wound up 15th and broke even payout wise. This was disappointingly fun. I missed my group because of the mechanical, but had a fun time on a great course. 

 

Cooper River Cross (CRCX): This race is a prime example of how to make a great course on a difficult to work with piece of land. Dead flat and very long/narrow... but the course had flow, fun sections and obstacles. Starting in the back due to no NJCX series points, I had to ride up to where I needed to be. I took it easy the first half a lap and didnt force anything. It was too much of a shit show to be aggressive. finally it opened up and I moved forward. My one regret was watching a split in the field from still to far back and missing the junction. Instead I chaired a large group with Eric from MTBNJ which we spent 4 laps trying to break up. I threw every trick I knew at it and thinned it some, but not enough. I had to attack, often on the last lap and go way into the red to stay clear. Jack Drummond make me work pretty hard to stay clear, but I won the group... and finished... dick spot. 1 out of the money. 11th. 


Lap 1. Dave Casale yard sale on the stairs.  Kelpius Helmet cam footage

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