Sunday Sunday Sunday! Rrrrrace fans! It was a THROWDOWN in Lyons today! My G-O-D, I am a geekdified-uber-zoopa cross fan. I admit it. I am in love with this sport. As I type this, my big toes and thumb are still painfully de-icing with a touch of frostbite. but the smiles from the memories today are still here late at night. I couldn't sleep for the pain in the appendages so I figured I'd type while the memories are fresh.
Today began in sun and 20 degree temps and tons of snow. As mentioned yesterday, I knew it was gonna be an epic, so I packed everything I owned into the grocery getter. Both cross bikes and my 1 x 1 for good measure. I got to the race site in 10 minutes as Lyons is just a stones throw away from the Republic.
I parked next to the Kappius' and just as I am getting out and getting my crap on to warm up, Russ pulls up with a big shit eating grin, all giddy on the course and the fun he'd just had. He pumps me up and I suit up, reg, and roll the course.
Brian H and family did not disappoint! It was an awesome course, perfectly matched to the conditions. The course basically put you out on a long flat snowy fire road straightaway, then did this long arc around he snowy field perimeter putting you at speed into the woods. The woods offered TONS of technical features which made my mind numb with glee. Tight off cambers, ditches, switch backs. Absolute fun. The earlier categories had matted down some good lines so it was relatively flat and fast. Brian introduced 2 sets of well placed barriers....a small/technical run up double and a fast triple. Both were designed to have all the action in the central part of this park to congregate people. TONS of tents with beers, brats and bikes were all centered there.
So after a few hot laps, the legs had this snap....a snap that I hadn't felt in a while. I get back to the car, strip off the warm up kit and leave on the leg warmers and two layers up top. On my feet I have plastic bags, and two pairs of socks. On my hands, blue latex surgical gloves under Pearl Izumi AmPhibs. I slide on the insulated skin suit and as I am trying to get it over two craft base layers....SNAP! The friggin zipper busts!! Those suits are so insulated you simply CAN'T have much under them. (So when you see the pics below, I swear I haven't been eating Gouda cheese and whole milk for the month! Ha! I am fully Michelin-ed in that skin suit with TOO much crap on underneath!). At that moment, Chris Graelish and wife miraculously walk up and help me solve the problem. Chris is calm saying, "No stress man! We got ya covered." "You need me to grab your jacket from you at the start." Absolute class. Husband and wife carefully pin up my suit with safety pins and wish me luck.
Chris, you have unbelievable class.
I get to the line for my race., the Open Men's 35+ (Master A, Vet pro....whatever you call it in your respective parts of the country...) and it's a big field given the conditions...save for no Chris Phenecie nor Timmy Faia! What's up guys?? I get the call up as I STILL miraculously have some points. They send us on our way up the long snowy straightaway and I am settled in nicely into the top 8 or 9. More or less exactly where I want to be if not a place or too too far back. I am running Dugast Rhinos today on my white bike with 38 PSI in 'em. Capital P perfect. As we're going into the snowy curves, dudes are washing out. The WB had this occur and let me come around. I freight trained it to catch up and pace with Karl K who is a few seconds behind the leaders. I am feeling light an super deep. I can get it into the 42 x 14 and keep it pinned so I am happy.
By minute 30 I am now in a position where I am 15-20 seconds to the lead group consisting of Dennis Farrell, Eric Sheagley, Karl Kiester and Clay Harris. Dave Towle and Nat Ross are calling out the race and I can hear where the leaders are by their descriptions. People are screaming insanely at me to bridge. By minute 35 (probably 2 to go), the Spike Shooter duo of Brian Maslach and JJ Clark are bridging. Shit. These guys have all kinds of accolades to their palmares. I am not going down without a fight! Brian gets up to me and we're dicing. They are good riders and smart ones at that. Brian knew when to attack me and I drilled it to try and keep tempo but no go. Too many watts in them thar legs. JJ is next and he bridges and identically he bridges, rests and attacks smartly and I have no deep response to him. Enough that I am going as fast as all get up, but clearly I can see the why these guys are special.
I finish up strong in the clear a few seconds behind JJ in 7th. I can not complain! I am stoked on the result as it proves I am back and over my sickness. It also will help me go into this next month of training solidly for Belgium rather than trying to try and overcome more flu/cold/crap and then seek motivation to get on rollers or the bike.
After my race, I ended up hanging out and simply enjoying my day as a super fan! The 3's race was great with a young Robin Eckman demonstrably better than the entire (huge field). That kid will be something special. I hung out with great people and just talked 'cross ALL DAY. It was a geek fest.
The race of the day (if you discount mine....ha!) was absolutely the Men's Open. It was a 4 way race of Brandon Dwight, JHK, Danny Summerhill and Matt Pachoca. They ALL traded the front at least once with Danny putting in a late race attack. Brandon in the last lap had this unbelievable through-the-barriers pass of JHK (who was bobbling with snow in his pedals and Longman captured RIGHT HERE!) to bridge to Danny. The WHOLE mass of spectators rushed from that section through the woods to the finish area to see Danny take Dubba by 2 seconds. I thought you had it Brandon! You made me HOARSE yelling for you!
So that's it folks! My CO 'cross racing for 2007 is finito! 13the place overall in the series which is what it is. Not my 'goal' per se but inexplicably hard-earned and definitely fun doing it.
Here's my digital celluloid before the batteries ran out!
Longman got some INEXPLICABLY great pics today of nearly ALL races. You are turning out to be the next Graham Watson. All Longman's pics can be seen here, but I'll leave you with this beauty:
Jason Rice donated these absolutely remarkable pics he snapped while hanging out at the race before leaving. Thanks for standing out in the cold Jason!! PLEASE visit his his site! Note the close ups of the ghetto pins holding my skin suit together! Ha!
The Birdman got some AWESOME pics! Thanks hombre for helping me document this day!!