I can barely type at this moment. Absolutely no feeling in my fingertips due to the insanity of participating in my 'last' race of the season today, CycloX, in sub arctic conditions. My body is cashed. My mind is too...although 'at peace' that another season is done and the Holidays are here to enjoy. There's talk of some races popping up on the schedule in January but I am officially done with any racing that requires focus. Racing's always fun, but no need to "think" so to speak.
Cross Racing week 12. Let's get to it.
2009 Cyclocross State Championships - Arvada CO
This is 'peakin' season' for us all as States is always followed by Nationals. Thus folks want to be feeling as much spring in the legs as possible. The week had been snowy as all get up here in Boulder-ville and we all knew we were in for an epic Saturday. It didn't fail. It was my 12th week straight of racing and everyone was tired (save the smart ones mind you...). I took the entire week off except for some roller time in the basement to come in as fresh as possible.
The warm up lap I got to take showed that I felt good and the course had no monster climbs which would negate any one single dude from dominating. The course was snowy almost exactly like the 2007 State Champs on that bitter cold day. I brought the de-icer and ran Dugast Typhoons at 30psi. I'd never need to change bikes all day amazingly...even with crashes.
All the usual suspects were lined up save Denis Farrell. I had a 2nd row call up today as I've been suckin' but I knew that being behind Jon C and Timmy I'd get off the line safe, smartly and clear.
TWEET! We're off and as anticipated I snake through a hole with Timmy taking the hole shot along with Michael, Jon and Glen Light. I am feeling really pretty light and spinning well. When we took off the course was frozen but in 45 minutes it would all change.
First lap and I am rolling beautifully along. No issues, keeping The WB in my head to stay conservative and not attack or do anything stupid. Coming over this set of barriers the racers would re-mount then get sent through this completely UNSHOVELED sidewalk (the course guys should have really paid more attention here as this was fairly B league ATMO). There were two lines, the right one being next to this orange plastic hurricane fencing. Exactly like that moment in the 2003 Tour when Lance is pulled down by that kid's mussette bag, my SRAM lever gets snagged in the orange fencing and brings me down so fast it was incredible. Hogan comes by me and my bike takes him out (we have a habit of doing this to each other! Ha!) He asks if I'm OK and we get up and hammer.
Long story short, I suffer two more of these similar crashes. One I will admit was particularly scary. My hand slipped off the hood as I came into this apex and the front tire went into a divot. The hand slips off and I hit the deck super fast and super hard face and arm first. I felt this shooting pain which I literally thought was my arm braking or maybe my shoulder. I get up and look at my skin suit to see if there is some sort of bone protruding! Ryan and Glen Light ask me again If I am OK and I remount and get the diesel working again. It turns out I bruised the bone and my tricep muscle and had some shoulder pain but all will be OK (as you'll see by me racing the next day at CycloX below).
Last lap and this is where I need to pause and explain something that needs explaining as it has relevance below further down in the post...
The group of guys we have in the 35A's here in Colorado are absolutely, positively something special. I am not sure what it is like elsewhere in the country but we generally and fully enjoy each others company as we attempt to slay each other week in and week out. Whenever we come across the line there is always a gaggle of hugs, back pats and recounts of the race. Genuine joy between us. The fact is that we all end up trading emails, calls, TXT's etc during the work week as we prep for another weekend of racing and share a bit of the work and family week stuff we all have to balance in our crew. Mutual respect if there was ever a phrase to apply to a group.
So back to the action and the above known, the closing laps got faster and more chances taken. Matty Opp was having a banner day bridging to us dangling off the leaders. As the race wore on the course changed dramatically. Mud was becoming an issue and my cleats and pedals for the life would not engage. I was sore as a mo-fo and chasing Opp hard yet I could hear LG on the mic shouting about my hombre Ward~The WB~Baker's ride. Timmy early on had an unfortunate tire failure taking him out in lap 2 and Chris Phenecie unfortunately suffered a worse fate about the same time with a crash and ankle injury. These gaps allowed a spilt group to simply ride ride ride. Robson, Cariveau Ward and a strong JJ Clark who'd made it through a number of folks to bridge to try and re-claim CO States after his 2008 win. But if you have ever seen Ward ride a mountain bike, you know that this was his day.
Almost every soul hit the deck Saturday. The best of us struggling. The greatest of us, though, stayed as smooth as he typically is and Ward came across the line arms held high in a much deserved win. LG's words on the mic were motivating me to no end shouting out his gap times to chasers. Hearing Ward was going to take it made my hair stand on end as I was racing and made me go harder still.
Last lap and I am with Glen. We bridge to Ryan and coming into an icy cement corner and I wash out quickly. We're all pinned but to show the class of the guys we ride with (and my sentiments above about our group), Glen pauses to tell me to get up, get control, get my breathing in order and throw in another interval when I get up and going. Class. Ryan, Glen and I come flying into the last stretch: a muddy run up, then immediately flip to a slick down hil. I'd railed this all day with a foot out but this time I wash out. I am up in seconds and remount as Glen begins to stand to sprint for the line with Ryan starting his sprint as well. I can hear our gears changing to find that 46 x 12...Clink clink clink clink! I miraculously find the big ring and drill it, all three of us basically throwing with me taking the print for 9th. Yup, knife fighting the whole way.
Ward, I love you like a brother and am so proud of you. Every single one of us knew it was your day. You did it man.
Have a look at my photos of the State Championships (mainly apres-race photos) here in my Flickr gallery.
With a pint or so of my bud Joe Ball's home made Westmalle clone in my gullet, I proceeded to don the smock and rubber gloves to pit for my bros Brandon Dwight and Pete Webber in the open men's race. Let it be known that I indicated to anyone that would listen that today would be Pete's day. I know how hard he is training (and resting!) for Bend, and today woudl suit him well. He and Ward are in fact extremely similar riders.
So with a small posse in hand, we dialed in Pete and Brandon's bikes for what would be an absolute frozen mudfest. The pit crew work (if I don't say so myself...) would be decisive as we watched lap after lap of the pro men struggle with mud that was freezing in massive chunks around the every concievable place.
Lap after lap Brandon and Pete simply stayed smothed, changed bikes and kept gapping the field by a large distance. It all came down to a sprint between these two old best friends with Pete taking the roses.
See an amazing set of photos here by our team mate Philip Ball including the dramatic sprint finish to the line.
Photo by Philip Ball
CycloX - Boulder, CO
I woke up today (Sunday) feeling like my body had been hit by a freight train. Legs heavy arm sore. I peer outside and it's snowering out and we'd gained another 1.5". Oh and it's 16 degrees.
I guess I'll just 'have' to race one last time, right? The good news is that the race course is literally right down the sreet. So I embro-up right there at my house, grab my de-icer and roll down the street with my two bikes...in the snow...with cars nearly stopping to oggle me as if I am absolutely psychotic.
I roll up to the start line and ask someone to pin me up, drop my jacket and discover it's literally just me and two other guys at the start line! Tim Allen and Jon Baker. We're all freezing and we essentially roll off the line, Tim taking off on a tear (Jon and I would not bridge to him for the whole race).
The course was pretty damn fun. I rolled in 28psi, unbelievably low, and found myself hooking up well. I rolled consistently with Baker at 15 seconds, Tim 30 seconds in front of Jon. My fingers numbed horribly and contacts froze and rolled right out of my eyes. The atmosphere was super fun with us all goofing off. My family walked down and braved the elements with Seamus and Aiden hucking snow balls at me.
I pull across the line with my bike above my head, Stybar-style, in celebration of a fun race and my last race of the season.....although my fingers are still frozen and I fear a 2007-like scenario where they stay numb for a month or more. Arrgh.
So that's it friends. I am capital C cooked and happy with the season. I'd probably give myself a B- overall but know that my focus needed to be elsewhere this season and not going to go down some woe-is-me path. I did my best and I did what I could do weekend in and out, essentially relying on racing as my training.
Best of luck to all my friends going to get thier game on in Bend next week. I'll be thinking of you...as I down a beer and go out on a 1 x 1 ride.