Monday, October 20, 2008

Carpenter Cross Race Report

I arrived in Carpentersville in time to photograph the Men 3's and Women 1/2/3's. It takes up a bit of the day, but it's so nice to be at the race venue with plenty of time to hangout, get dressed, warm up, and race. I don't recommend the show and go method. My pals at the Bone Bell can tell you about that.

With the temperature hovering around 60 degrees I opted for arm and knee warmers, and got in lots of warm ups. I had a chance to ride the course a couple times, which had changed a bit from last year. A much shorter starting straight lead into a series of sharp, somewhat tricky turns over very bum-bum-bumppity terrain. The single barrier followed by the ditch jump was still there, but this time you had to make a hard left hand turn into the barrier. They threw in a longer pavement second with a 180 leading back to the rideable ditch crossing, and then the sandbox. This is a tricky pit to ride due to the 1) very bumpy ground leading up to it making it hard to get up to speed and 2) the 4-5 in inch drop into the sand that, if you're not careful, will put you on your face! Once again they used the bump of a hill in the middle of the course as a run up. I love this one because it's a short intense burst run rather than a long slog like the toboggan hill from last week. And the short remount period at the top really pays dividends if you're on your technical game, and just in time as the finish is right around the corner.

I felt great all day warming up and at the start. I was in an ok spot in the second row. But a bad start, and then a big jam up in the first turn soon put me in the hole. Everyone in front of me suddenly came to a stop and my wheel was pinned against the wheel in front of me. I started to fall to my left but before my foot even hit the ground someone ran into me from behind. Let me just tell you, being violated by a brake hood is NOT the way to start a race. I rode that d*mn thing from one side of the course to the other, ticking off a few riders in the process I'm sure. I couldn't sit again for the rest of that lap!

The field was so deep that I was still in the thick of things, though decidedly at the back of the pack. By the second lap, though, things started to thin out a little. I began gapping up to riders ahead, recovering, and then getting another. On the final lap going into the single barrier/ditch combo I banged my banged my rear wheel off the ground either right after the barrier or on the bank of the ditch. Either way, my chain jumped off. The same thing had happened to me in warm ups, but then I was much faster at getting the chain back on. Just as I got the chain on my buddy Naz from Half Acre caught up to me. I remounted and said "Ok, its you and me, Naz!" I knew we'd duke it out to the finish. With Naz hot on my trail I couldn't let up a bit. I stood up on the pedals on the pavement and making the turn I could see he was still there. Last time through the sand pit I rode it again and Naz caught me, running, by the end, but I was able to pull away quickly. I could feel him setting me up for an attack at the run-up. So after the off camber section I clicked up a couple gears and hammered the long stretch around the field prior to the run-up. Naz hung on strong. I had to clean the barriers and make a clean remount or get eaten up. Jump. Jump. Sprint. I pedaled away and took a look under my arm. Still there! A few more hard pedal strokes to the finish and I held him off!

After nearly collapsing at the finish, I made my way over to the Half Acre tent to re-hydrate! :D The only thing I like more than good beer is friendly people with a cooler full of good beer. What a great way to spend a Sunday. Thanks to all the folks involved with the Chicago Cross Cup series. Great job once again!

PHOTO CREDITS: Top: Luke Seeman Middle: Velogrrl Amy Bottom: Me

The rest of my pictures can be found on my Flickr site.


Blogger Naz said...

Mike - it was a pleasure to have the "race within a race" with you. I lost your wheel for a bit but managed to get myself psyched to catch it again and as you said, it was me and you to the end!

It's this kind of stuff that makes cross fun, the race within a race rather than the overall race at large.

21/10/08 9:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice pics and great report.

22/10/08 10:36 AM  

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