OK. Where to begin? A zillion excuses could easily come out of my unworthy mouth (as I type this post with one hand...ha!) but truly none that I'd even dare insult you with. Bad strategy, bad form, bad technique...it all added up to an unbelievably hard day at Xilinx for the Blue Sky 'Cross Race. But this I will tell you: I am STILL so worked from this afternoon, I clearly left my spleen out there. Literally not wanting to say anything to anyone after the race I hurt so bad and escaped to my car where I sat in its open tailgate...and started to dry heave. Awesome day.
First a note about Blue Sky and the event. Core. I felt at home in some sort of weird way. OK, not weird as much as comforted. I've raced courses at Xilinx a zillion times over the years. Theirs was flat out hard. Challenging everything about my crossy-ness from it's 2.1 mile lap to its nasty climb on the back side to the seemingly 24" high barriers. The Blue Sky folks challenged you to be good. I failed today. The scene was unbelievable. USGP -style amenities and nearly the fields. Still only 600+ racers compared to our brethren in PDX putting up 1200+ racer numbers weekend after weekend. A special note about Rob Love (owner/proprietor of Blue Sky). Capital 'C' Core. Rob, you do so much for the sport and community, we need a sculpture of your bust on the Pearl Street Mall. Ha! But seriously, thanks for motivating your team as the support and organization was obvious and super dialed. And especially Dan Farrell who is the crossiest of the crossy. Pained face, white shoes, matching Ridley and all. I thank you all for your support.
OK, already, so the race. Call ups occurred today and my ass was still in the top 10. 20 were called and my 9th place got me in the front row (we'll see where I am after today, ahem...). All the gang was there except for Timmy who has family in town and homie knows his priorities. The WB Ward Baker was back from vacation and we were even blessed with Boups today doing a warm up in the 35 A's for his Open race later. So bottom line the 50+ starting would be throw down-ish for sure.
Waiting in the queue for the gun, I had to pull a funny ha ha and I yelled 'GO!' and you should have seen the jumps! HA! I though Hogan was gonna soil his chamois! Ha! Sorry bud! Eventually Al, our ACA official counted down and whistled the start.
The start was a long-ass uphill drag on pavement through the Start/Finish and apexed down hill before hitting the grass. My goal for the day was simple...and ultimately stupid: Win the hole shot (which I did) keep tempo for the first lap or two (which I did and won the 1st lap prime), split a group off of what I knew would be the strongest 10 (which I did) and sit in and work amongst them to try and do something on the day (which I DID NOT).
After lap two Dennis Farrel came by and as an experienced bike racer, worked me like his red-headed step child up the long drag on the back side. I turned around and looked at the WB to come through which my home boy did. This essentially stayed that way through lap 2.5 where Pete Webber, my team mate, came through and he yelled at me to stay on. I turned myself inside out to stay in and managed another 1/2 lap like this and started to unravel a bit. Phenecie and a flurry of others came through including the Spike Team armada.I'd eventually take some of the Spike guys back but Chuck Coyle and Jared would get the best of me today. I finally was able to sit on on this group and get the deep breaths cycled through I longed for. By lap 4 (of 6) I just felt awful...like the kind of awful that has you seriously doubting our ability to keep the "valve covers" in place...on both ends if you know what I mean. It's been a REALLY long time since I felt that type of race-induced sickness. It was hot out (75+) and I just felt absolutely uncomfortable the whole time. Oh, yeah, this is Cross. I forgot. You're supposed to feel that way.
By lap 5 I am in the top 10 maybe 11...and honestly saying to myself: "...smooth, that's all boy. Just be smooth and get home. Bell lap next. Just hang in and you're golden." Lots of drama is meanwhile going on at this time as well. The WB burped a Hutchinson and leaked its air, changed bikes and STILL bridged up to me and over took me for an eventual top 10. Nice work boy, seriously. As he comes past me in lap 5, he brings my other team mate Brian Hludinski up to me and he too is inspiring me to stay on. We make it to the barriers, and burn through and I commit the sins of ALL sins: I frigging clipped one of the tripple barriers with my cleat and completely yard-saled. I am absolutely serious when I say I did a FULL somersault (ask Joe D) and sat there. Specialzed S Works helmet mangled and I am just stunned. I work SO HARD on technique...train it to 100's of people and I came apart!!! Exhaustion and total lack of focus and WHA-BOOM! On the ground. I immediately have this HUGE blue ball of a hemotoma on my hand and it's hard to shift and brake. I have to shift my helmet around as it's nearly backwards. I am shell shocked and try to focus and get beck to flow. 2 dudes pass. I am getting deeper into the suffer cave. 3 more dudes pass as we go through for the bell lap as I can not keep it together. Suffering. I am thinking "this is frigging bad. You should be EMBARRASSED!!!" I make it through the wooded sections in a pack of 4. I drop 2 of them on the run up with the barriers and we get back to the pavement onto the start/finish area. Just another climb up the hill and I am done....yet I am with a guy. He fumbles momentarily and I just drop my SRAM Red into the 42x12 and hammer as hard as all get up and win the sprint....for 15th place! Ha! Joy. Hard, hard, hard.
After the sprint, I started to feel sick...I mean the true sick like the stomach upside down kind. People slapping my back saying good race...wanting to talk, etc. I just had to escape. So I rolled down to the car and as mentioned, had the dry heaves as I sat there in the back of the wagon. THAT is a day of cross....
The day's silver linings:
- Hearing my name multiple times every lap from the best fans. SO COOL! It is SO INSPIRING you guys. I am trying like all get up out there and when you yell that stuff, I go that extra bit deeper.
- Dave Towle's commentary. He was RIPPING out the race call action today and Dave., you too I appreciate as you rally the fans and racers up like none other.
- Cody O: Great to meet you today man!
- Rolling my Dugast on my B bike during warm up and not having it tear....Then again, Challenge tires are a-callin' me!
- My homeboy and team mate Pete Webber took the flowers with an impressive display of patience and eventual power. Wish I could say I helped you man!
- Not actually yacking.
Photo George Scott