Friday, October 21, 2011

Linden CX

Last weekend's cyclocross race in Linden was preceded by a super-stressful week at work. Sarah also left for Florida on Saturday morning, so I was watching both kids plus our dog, plus my in-laws' 3 dogs! We got a baby-sitter for the race, but still, it was kind of a crazy weekend.

My plan was to train through this race. So, my legs were already a little cooked before I started Sunday. The course had a little bit of everything: bumpy flat fields, fast "technical" sections, slow technical sections, and a few hills. It was fun though.

I got to the start of the "B" race early this week, so I got a second-row start, basically top 10. I didn't feel so hot at the start and got passed by more guys than I would have liked.

My performance seemed to vary with the terrain. When it was fast and flat, even in the wooded section, I felt like I was riding pretty well. In the tighter wooded section, I really struggled though. I had trouble getting around the tight 180's, and it seemed like I didn't accelerate out of the corners fast enough. On the 3rd lap, I also crashed (and dropped my chain) coming out of one of those corners. I also felt a little slow climbing all the hills.

All in all, it wasn't such a great performance.

After a little reflection, I decided to go ahead and also do the Masters 35+ race. My idea was to get a little more hard riding in and at least figure out what I was doing wrong in the wooded 180 section.

The field was much smaller, and the start was a little slower than the B race. I didn't feel too bad for the first couple laps, but I did crash pretty hard in the wooded section. I figured out part of what I was doing wrong in the tight 180's; basically I needed to put a little more weight on the front end of the bike.

After a few laps, I started to feel pretty bad. I'd figured out what I wanted to figure out, so I decided to call it a day.

So, while my race results weren't stellar, it was a useful race day for me. I figured out my handling problem, and, after some mental review, figured out some other places where I was consistently losing time.

Monday, October 03, 2011

Munson CX

It's nice to be racing. I haven't had any big injuries this year (knock on wood), my fitness is coming around. Life is good...

I was a little worried about how the race would go this weekend. I took Sarah to the Toby Keith concert on Friday night for her birthday. It was outside, in the cold and rain. We brought a tarp and some blankets, so we stayed reasonably warm and dry. I thought I might end up getting sick from being out there like that, but I didn't.

I got to the race plenty early on Saturday and got in a few warmup laps in the daylight. I tried to pay particular attention to any bumps and dips, since, once it got dark, I knew I wouldn't be able to see them. (As it was, there was one rough section that I didn't note, and it bucked me around for the first few laps until I finally remembered it.) The course was pretty typical for a night race at Munson. Just one time riding up the hill, one time running, and the rest was all flat.

One of the things I'd wanted to work on this year was warming up thoroughly before cold races. Since there aren't great roads to warm up on around the park (especially in the dark!), I brought my trainer. I really liked how well it worked! My legs felt really loose and ready to go before the race.

Unfortunately, I made a mistake and misjudged how early I needed to get to the line to get a decent starting spot. I ended up getting there with over 5 minutes to go, but most of the field was already lined up. I started right near the back. Doh!

At the whistle, I got a good start, and I started moving up immediately. Racing with the huge fields in Baltimore definitely helped me out. I was very comfortable jumping into whatever gaps opened and working my way up. After the second lap, I think I'd passed the majority of people I was going to easily pass. The rest would require some more serious work!

I felt pretty solid for most of the race. It seemed like I was just crushing people riding up the hill, but on the flatter sections (which was most of the course), I had more trouble. Still, much like at Plaster Creek, I seemed to be able to find a gear that I could "get on top of" in the flat parts. It just wasn't quite enough to get up to the leaders.

I had a good battle with a couple Cycletherapy guys near the end. We eventually shed one, but I ended up losing a sprint to the other. He set it up by beating me up the run-up (I didn't feel good running the whole race). I knew you probably had to be in front through the last few corners to win a sprint finish, since the finishing straight was pretty short. I gave the sprint a good go, but I wasn't able to go around.

I ended up finishing 7th out of a field of almost 40 guys. I think I probably could have been top 5 if I'd started near the front. I'll get to the line earlier next time...