Sunday, December 09, 2007

Illinois State 'Cross Championships or Good Things Come in 3's!


Man, I feel gyped..
all the rest of 'cross season was hot, dry, and bland. :( Today was none of those things!

It was a tad warmer than yesterday.. about 33 degrees at race time. After an awesome pancake breakfast at Rachel's, I headed back home to get ready. I decided to ride to the race instead of bring the car. With the right timing, I should get there warmed up, ready to register and get on the course for a quick warmup.

I think I've said it before, but I think I'm really zeroing in on how to dress for the cold. I was a little chilly starting out for the race, but warmed up pretty quickly, without overheating or sweating too much. That is a huge load of my mind. But, once the race started, I can tell you that the cold was the last thing on my mind!

I got there and registered. I tried to get out on the course for a pre-lap, but it seems they were running behind. At 2pm they were calling for 2 more laps for the 1/2s.. So I planned on taking a lap when they called the 4's to line up. We're usually standing there for 10-15 minutes anyway. Well, that wasn't to be either. When they finally did call us up, they went right into the race intro. Looks like I'm doin this one cold (so to speak).

So they blow the whistle and we're off. I'm sitting near the back of the pack of about 40 riders again. With the snow, mud, and ice, I would like to have been out front, but figured where ever I was, I had to watch for other people stacking it up. It was messy for the first 1/4 mile. A short starting straight led to a series of tight turns. People where hitting the brakes all over the place. One guy behind my got the right idea and ran the whole section the first time through.

This led to "cricket hill" as I've heard it called. A 2 pack of barriers led to a long b***h of a run-up. We mounted back up to ride down the back side of the hill in about 5-6 inches of deep loose snow. At the bottom, the first sucker punch. A 180 turn with a barrier immediately after the turn into another nasty long run-up.

Again, back on the bike to a sweet long snowy downhill. Shortly we reached the most technical part of the course. Several tight, back and fourth esses climbing up and down the hills either side of one of the bridges in the park. A somewhat technical descent to a loose lefty under the bridge, then sucker-punch #2.. another quickly lefty RIGHT into a barricade.. damn, didn't see that coming. A quick run-up, more esses, then back down on the other side of the bridge and under again. From here, it was mostly flat, a chance to pick up some speed, with some not too terrible turns. Then I spot a cool little 20ft. down-up. This should be fun. I hammer the peddles to get up some speed, and BAM! Sucker-punch #3. Some sadistic so and so put a barrier RIGHT AT THE TOP OF THE HILL!! I could really have used some practice on this one.. It took a good two laps to figure it out since you had to pick up enough speed on the downhill to coast the last part of the uphill while dismounting. Not easy. The last bit into the start/finish was not too bad, save for several branches that seemed to want to reach out and slap you off the bike. There were lots of spectators in the start/finish, making it easy to drop several gears and hammer through, aided by the fact that this was the only solid, non-muddy footing on the whole course! Ultimately my strategy of keeping the rubber side down served me well. I heard several people bite it behind me, and saw at least two go down in front of me. I stayed up and picked up places.

Man, that was fun! I wish there were more like it. I kinda wish I had done the Masters race. But, alas. There's always next year.

Thanks to Thomas and Katie for coming out and being an AWESOME cheering section! And for taking pictures. You can see all of Tom's pics from the race at He's an awesome photographer! More of his work is at

Good night!

Now playing: Gotan Project - Track 04
via FoxyTunes

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Blogger josh said...

SOUP! Thanks again for lighting a fire under my ass at the bridge section - it really helped.

NIce write-up, and man if that kit does not look great. Congrats!

10/12/07 10:44 PM  
Blogger Soupy said...

Thanks, man.. Glad to be of service.... Dig those pink socks!

11/12/07 12:25 AM  
Blogger Danielle said...

Nice job! Hopefully we will see you at the Versluis Snocross race!

11/12/07 6:10 AM  
Blogger Soupy said...

thanks, Danielle.. I'm there for sure!!

11/12/07 9:40 AM  
Blogger benlikesbikes said...

great write up and great race Mike. I totally agree about feeling like we missed out on "good cross conditions" this year. maybe we should all transplant to Portland for a few months in the fall and soak up some of thier mud.

11/12/07 9:45 AM  
Blogger SMH said...

Sweet Photos Mike!

12/12/07 11:28 AM  
Blogger R. Zach Thomas said...

Lookin' good in xXx!

Let's go ride in the snow sometime soon.

19/12/07 10:07 AM  

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