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Cross Racing Week 9 | To the consistent comes the spoils.

image What kind of crosser are you? Seriously. Think about it for a moment. Are you the type who thrives on the early season warmth? Tackling fast courses and using some of your road or mountain season form to go and wreak havoc? Or maybe you are the new generation crosser who is coming into the sport, learning your place in the pack, dialing in your race day rituals, equipment and comfort level on various courses. Or maybe, just maybe, you are the fanatic. Watching hourly…yet days in advance of the event…to observe the weather patterns and praying for the confluence of cloud, temp and precip to allow the heavens open up and drain what it will on the course. Ultimately leveling the playing field in favor of those with technical skills versus those that are genetically gifted yet ill-prepared to handle their bikes in the bad.

Hi. I’m Greg. I’m a fanatic.

I don’t know what it is but if the conditions foul, I relish. I’m not intending to sound all egotistical, but I sincerely feel better on challenging courses when weather adds its secret sauce: My tires feel great. My power seems even and consistent. It all just seems to work for me. I like zee sheet and zee piss-rain and zee mud.

Well we got the sheet and the mud but replace the piss-rain with snow. Epic conditions greeted the crossers…and DROVES of us…to Boulder Racing’s final in its series. We were all back once again at Xilinx, home to the last mud fest! I had a hold on 3rd place in the series and frankly wanted to reap some rewards for being “Mr. Consistent” this season. And that consistency would play imageits self out yet again Sunday. Ha! Or maybe I should say arrgh!

I’ll give the blow by blow for the Men’s 35 A event…and I’ll use some AWESOME photography from David Kutcipal of , the lens of Linard Cimermanis and video from Dale Riley’s Crossin’ Colorado blog. Thanks you guys!!

The 35A’s have the ‘pleasure’ this season of lining up super early. Don't know why this is as for years we raced at 11:30-ish. Now this season we’re leaving at 0-dark:30 to make our 9:45 race time on most weekends. So, with these early start times, the course conditions radically change from AM to PM when the weather is foul. We faced ice, fresh powder and mud…not the pure mud the later races would face. Technical nonetheless.

The crew lined up after call ups and the ACA official sent us on our way. My plan today was to take it easy, save matches and burn slowly into the race. That means not blowing wads on the hole shot like I am just soooooo awesome at.

True to my plan I burn into the start chute up the pavement climb evenly and conservatively. I settle in behind Hogan who I am comfortable with and know how smooth he is to stay out of trouble. Up this 1/4 mile pavement drag, there was tons of melting ice and snow creating a pretty scary situation. Limited visibility due to spray and the fact that a bunch of dudes whom I don’t know and are not familiar with their racing styles were taking chances to get into position before we all converged into this narrow chute into the course proper were sketching me out. So, I had to make a move to stay safe. I jammed it on the outside and railed into the single track first …

Safely in the woods and clear of any disasters I was able to set my own pace. Set my own tempo. Set my own lines. And I felt absolutely great. I carved out the players early on. Ross, Robson and I meandered the course and railed as a three person train and took no chances. Essentially allowing ourselves to learn the course and the lines while pushing a good pace evenly.

image By lap 2 and 3 our group got a bit larger. Dennis, Ward, Brian an Mr. Hogan bridged so we had a group driving a great pace. The course was starting to flow and all of us were literally smiling. It was less race, more like a rad group ride with great friends pushing hard but having fun. Honestly, none of us felt like we were racing but our lap times were telling another story!

By the lap 3, Ross had punched to create a gap that no one was bringing back. His skills and his Niner 29’er (Cheater, Ross! HA! Kidding…) helped hgim create a gap that could be maintained by teh type of rider he is: Smooth consistent and technical. By this point I am still grooving until the unthinkable! I throw a chain over the outside ring on the back side of the course. As is customary these days, I lose my obligatory ‘5’ spots. The racing is simply that tight and you can NOT make a single mistake. Unless you have the motor to overcome other huge motors, you simply have to stay smooth and problem free. Bummer but I had to get off and re-assemble the mess.

Dubba was manning the pits for me (and I would for he and Pete later in the day) and I dumped of that bike, imageclogged with ice and muck that caused the derailieur drama. Before the start, Dubba and I could not source De-Icer yet while racing, he was able to get it and load my back up bike with the goodness. It proved effective to keep the drive train clear.

So with the train of dudes now clear of me given my mis-hap and my bike change (as quick as it was), I had my work to do. I drilled it to bridge to my teamie Brian who was gapped by the chasing group going after Ross. B and I would try to push to the next group. The unfortunate part was that we were running out of laps!We wren't going to get on.

Bri and I dove in and out of the single track, in and out of the snow and mud. It was super fast and fun! By the closing of the bell lap, he and I popped out on the pavement together towards the finish and he had a 10 meter gap. Even as team mates, we have to sprint for it! You all know what I’m sayin’! I dropped it into the 46 x 12 and bridged, threw, and B had the distance by a tire to take 7th. Me 8th….again! Ha! Seems to be my number this year.

Good news is that I raced consistently enough over the course of the 4 race series to take 3rd overall…de laatste podium plaats. $100 bucks and socks! Giddy up! So all is not lost, sports fans.

So all-in-all what a great day of racing. Fanatical racers out in the sheet and piss-muck with smiles all over the place. And on the horizon, the state championships are looming. Damn! I think I need to start training. Hup?

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