Week in and week out we slay each other....like the gentlemen we are. It's very close and always tight like warfare in trenches in the First World War.
And yet we love it. Purely, sadistically and with as much affinity for our own families, our family of elite masters this 2009 season is tight. Yet we're a familiy who attempt to murder each other on the course, pounding each other into submission looking for any signs of weakness to jump all over. But as soon as that finish line is crossed we share war stories, beers and encourage each other on with true sincerity as we're all in disbelief at the efforts we've just gone through to put a place in the guy who put a place on you last weekend.
I live for this every weekend as a salvation. To try and slay my physical and mental dragons and completely drain myself to purge the toxins alongside a bunch of fast guys who are doing likewise and generally 'get it.' We need not even say much about it either as we're all pretty much going through the same thing in this life, balancing the three part teeter totter. And that is comfortaing to know about this band of brothers...as I contemplate my assault on their trenches once more next weekend! Ha!
And so it was this weekend. Full on trench warfare with muddy battlefields to boot. The Boulder Cyclocross Racing weekend was EPIC! Here's the score from the trenches of the 35 elite races.
Blue Sky Halloween Cross
Passion. This band of blue and maroon from Blue Sky Velo eat sleep and live cross. They built an absolutey special course and got out there in the snow and filth to lay tape and dial every meter in of the long Belgian-style parcours. The Front Range got dumped on earlier in the week to the tune of 14 inches. And in classic Colorado fashion, we went from 20 degrees to 70 in the span of 4 days. Mud was the forecast as would be pain.
I had a feeling on Wednesday that this was going to shape up as it did so I rallied the team to think power washer. Team mate Mr. Sharkey went out and rented a beast of one and as you'll see made all the difference. I brought my Ridley's and my RoShamBo singlespeed to warm up on and immediately I knew we were in for some fun. By a 1/2 lap my singlespeed has ammassed so much mud it was crazy.
The course featured pretty much everything from pavement climbs to mud fields, to packed firm grass (that had dried as it baked in the sun) to off camber muddy whoops to sand. It was a crossers course in my opinion due to the weather. Else, it could have suited lesser technically focused riders. The fields were decent size with a gaggle of folks who came in from Utah, California and elsewhere to get a taste of racing in Colorado. I got a front row call up and was stoked to get 'er done. I had pretty good feelings going on as my warm ups told me that nothing was really aching or making it difficult to come around, I felt rather good.
The UCI official took charge of the callups and whistle blowing, pacing in front of the line even as close as 15 seconds. Kinda threw everybody off but I watched his mouth for the telegraph of a tweeeet!
TWEEEET! We're off and I step on it but only so much to stay out of trouble and to let some other dudes go out front for a change. Robson (blue) and Cospolich (orange Kona) led me out and into the first muddy section...
(Video courtesy of The WK)
On to the course, it took a few laps for the group to get its legs and bearings straight. We haven't had this level of mud yet this year and so it took a lap or two for folks to determine what the match burning would be like. I felt super comfortable running a Typhoons at 34psi r and 32psi f. Rhynos would have been perfect but I am Rhyno-less at the moment yet I barely missed a line with typhoons at that pressure.
The BCS crew was in FORCE in the pits. As mentioned, the secret weapon was that power washer and the skills of the crew, Mike D, Philip B, Sharkey, Bobby Diesel, Rob and Dubba covering the BCS crew in the race. Each lap...no each HALF lap!....we had fresh bikes. Not only that Dubba had these guys dialed into pit procedure with a guy to catch my dirty bike and the thrower had the clean bike up in the air for me to simply throw my arm through and run out of the pit. Incredible.
JJ was on fire off the front with Mark Legg-Compton who are both stratospherically fast. I crawled up on Mark after a long effort and was able to sit in. Mark then blew a Dugast and had to DNF (and I'd experience some of that too...).
By the closing laps it's clear that the bike changes are making a huge difference. I was riding comfortably in 6th-7th with a gap to chasers Robson and Shawn. I am with Mike Hogan who had shredded a derailleur earlier and he still managed to bridge back and work with me. By the bell lap we are hauling and making time. He and I come off the pavement and into the muddy pit area. And then it happened! Like a truck fishtailing on black ice, Mike's rear end washes and I t-bone him and go ass over tea kettle. Mike goes down too and we quickly get up grab bikes and start running simultaneously into the pits to change bikes. Robson and Shawn benefit and the nab us sacrificing bike changes and they punch it...and it worked for them!
I grab my bike and run past Mike and remount. I am determined to go and catch Robson and Shawn who are dangling in front. I go through the off camber 'pit of death' just outside the pits and I feel my front tire case something. It bottomed out the Dugast but not unlike normal bottoming sensations. By the pavement section I can feel things start to wash and then I realize I'm going flat. Arrgh! I keep up a tempo and try to keep it level. I need to ride another 1/2 lap until I can get a bike.
I can feel Mike gaining and I just drill it not caring about the tire or the carbon rim I am now riding on. (Awesome.) Coming into the pit area I put a hand up and the boys are ready. I fly in drop off the flatted bike and grab the other, remount and take a look over my shoulder. I see Hogan railing and I punch it harder. I was able to keep the gap over the finish line for 9th. All that effort... A true knife fight. Teamies Brian H (3rd) and Timmy the Truth (6th). Three guys in the top 10 and a large majority of it due to the team support in the pits.
Boulder Cup-Boulder Reservoir
Back again for another round at the Rez! 2 times in as many weeks. The Boulder Cup was supposed to be on the grass at Harlow Platts, but if we ever want to use the course again, we had to take one for the team and avoid using it for fear of chewing the place to bits. It was the right call.
Pre-riding I could feel the effort from the day before. It was taking a loooong time for the engine to turn over but by the time I lined up, I felt like a B-. And so it would be that kind of day. Sort of a 'meh' feeling. My poorly feeling legs aside, the weather was spectacular and you could not tell that it had snowed days earlier. The course was dry and we were in shorts and t's!
On the mic today doing race commentary was Rob Coppolillo...old friend and one of the good guys. As we're getting called up, Rob over the race course's PA system calls me out by name, telling everyone he's unabashedly going to be rooting for me. I'm indebted Rob!! That made my day.
Our UCI guy is back pacing once again in frot of us right down to 10 seconds. Tweeeet! On to the course and again I do not want to lead and allow a train of 3-4 guys go and I sit in. I am surprisingly turning my legs over and just playing conservative as I'd need to save it up for the later minutes of the race.
The Boulder Cup Rez course was different than the Boulder Racing course used last week. We had tons of sand as normal for a Rez course but they used a lot of other parts of the surrounding area that included sweeping grass and off camber turns. It was quite flowy and fun!
Video by The El-Gee.
By lap 2 my teamie Brian H is taking a flyer. I am not going to chase so I have Jon C come and pull if he wants to make the bridge. I sit in with Timmy close behind as I know Jon is going to throw it down as soon as he bridges.
We snake our way through the sand section which has us weave around a boat house. Very technical but offers a 'cheater' line to run up on the cement of the boat house and wheelie drop in. Brian is still motoring and takes this line yet cases it on the drop in. Arrgh! Timmy and I jet past and Jon as expected is off. I yell at Tim to go as this is truly it and he's off in chase...
By 3rd or 4th lap I am in that same section by the boat house. I get bumped off my line and wrapped into tape and throw a chain. I am trying to run and sort my chain issues out at the same time as a block of dudes pass me. I go from 5th to 10th in an instant. You can not make mistakes. This one wasn't all mine but you simply can not make mistakes as everyone is as fit as the next guy.
By the closing laps I am making attempts to bridge to Hogan who is in a group that would be the tail end of the top 10. I put in a massive effort and can't grab on. I can see Clay, Pat and another guy making time to me so I save matches and let them bridge. Clay and I proceed to drill it trading work lap after lap. If we can get to Hogan, we can definitely close to the top 10 and we can sprint it out.
By bell lap it's not going to happen. We can't cross that chasm to thenext group. The group in front stayed the same distance. Out of the sand, our group of 5 is still tight. I can see that Clay and I are the strongest so I am thinking we need to sprint this out. We blast on to the pavement in the finishing straight and I let Clay come to the front. I want to have a second of rest before we drag race it. Clay buries it and we start the sprint earlier than expected and he holds me off for 14th...14th! Ha! Yup...knife fighting in the trenches.
It was great to see all the out-o-towners once again, Timmy J, JPows, JesseD and others. It was an exceptional weekend of racing and the BCS crew should be proud.