Sunday, September 30, 2007

Forecast, Sept 30, 2007: Moderate to heavy cyclocross conditions all day.We went and had ourselves a genuine 'cross experience today in Orono. After two presoaks and countless rinses, my kit is clean again. I had to hoark the neighbor's garden hose to spray off my steed. I'm still picking grit out of my eyes and ears. I thought Hurl's Slick 50 ride was muddy, but this cross race was amazing. The organizers let the A category go off first. That meant the A's got everything good and greasy for us. They were aided in their cause by Mother Nature who unleashed a moderate shower for most of the hour they were on the course. Once the A race was over I hit the course for one more warm-up lap. By the end of it I was already covered and my bike was caked in sweet, brown goo. Time to line up and get going.

My start was okay. I'm still trying to figure out my best combo of gearing, etc. A lap around the cinder track abruptly ended with a sharp muddy switchback onto a straightaway leading into a sand volleyball court. Hooray! I'm pretty good at riding sand, but it was deep. I rode it on my practice lap and exited the court with a drivetrain that sounded like it was full of gravel. I decided running it was the best option. A couple of long L's across a field led us into a chicane with two 180 degree turns into a set of barriers. On my third lap I thought I'd be smart and show off my stellar ability to ride my bike on the narrow strip of unmolested grass next to the fence and out of the mud. Great idea until my left brake hood caught the fence and down I went. Mud makes such a pleasant crash surface though. A short gravel/dirt road section led into the back side of the course where some of the best mud lay in waiting. One wicked 90, some S turns and a set of doubles were the icing on the mud pie. I did fine with handling but the mud made for fatiguing pedal strokes. Remounting from the doubles in the woods you spit back out on the road headed toward the start finish area. This was the part of the course where I felt I had no punch the entire race. I don't know if there was a wind or I was tired from the mud, but everytime I hit this open section of road I watched the riders I was chasing start to gain distance on me. Back into a field we endured another couple of short, extremely greasy hills. They were rideable most laps but I biffed a couple of times here from spinning out and watched more precious seconds slip away. Into the finish area was the last barrier and a classic run-up about 15 meters long. It was good and rutted and posed a worthy obstacle for many racers. I ended the race feeling pretty good. But I was really pissed at my remounts and clip-ins. I botched and missed so many that I commented to Johnny on the ride home that single factor probably cost me a couple minutes and several places at the finish. (He rubbed it in by saying he didn't miss any remounts. Ass.) Maybe someday I will actually practice a little technique. Lots of folks pay more than a $25 entry fee to get covered in mud. Here's the Fleckster at the finish -- 18th. Dave C took 14th.

While the A race was going on (and the heaviest showers were falling) I was hunkered under the tent at Camp Cory sponsored by Dave and Tom. This meant I missed out on photos of the A guys including my Hubster teammate Joel. I also did not get any shots of Paul since he and I both raced the B's. But there were lots of other interesting characters to photograph.

Two of the most dedicated 'cross fans you'll ever meet -- BLAR and Tom Cory. Thanks for the hand-up, Bill. And, Tom, your diplomatically delivered words of "inspiration" are always appreciated.

A little C race action courtesy of Ben Scherer (left) and Johnny Nebraska as they wade through the sea of mud on the final hill. Q Folks represent! For that matter, I should mention that Andrew Pierre took second in the B race, James Buddenbaum rocked in the B's again this week with a 4th, and Jason Prudhom won the C race.

Ben used his Green Lantern-like speed to pull ahead of Johnny and defy the meager abilities of my camera's shudder.

Johnny wouldn't roll over and die, however. Here he even manages to crack a smile while effortlessly besting this taller-than-average barrier.

I'm bestowing my "Spirit of the Race" Award on ATW Ray. He broke a derailleur hanger last week and couldn't race. This week he hung in there and slogged it out. In this photo he shows off his secret Michael Jordan tongue out technique for mastering the run-ups. The crowd was slim and not very spirited. I appreciated Ray allowing me to give him a push on the last lap -- audience participation Belgian style!

Unfortunately, Ray was picked off by this eager youngster who proved that you don't need a $3000 bike, or even a bike that fits, to race 'cross. The race series almost always incorporates kids' events and it is awesome to see these young racers get as fired up as the adults. The future of the sport is right here ...

Johnny K, my 18th place counterpart in the C division. He's already talking about moving up to B's. Go ahead, "Technique Man" -- let's see how good those remounts really are in a head to head Battle of the Johns.


BLAR (who manages to sneak into an amazing amount of my photos) enjoys the award ceremony with Paul, Ezra and Ezra's daughter. EZ raced the A's and then the B's too, winning the B race on his SS. He is our hope for SS Cross nationals coming up in Portland.

Johnny treated me to lunch at the Highland Grill(there can be only one) after the race. Carrie had just gotten off work and joined us. This photo reveals she obviously sees something in him, 'cause she's lookin' awful hard.

The legs of a champion. Johnny shows off his 'cross tan for the patrons of the grill.

The aftermath of another fine day of cyclocross. Do you even have to wonder why I love this sport so much?!


Lunatic Biker said...

I borrowed the the run-up picture of me. Thanks for the push. Fun times in the rain.

Anonymous said...

John's legs are sooo sexy.

Good to see you buddy.