Sunday, October 15, 2006

Cross season underway

The CX season is off to a bang, and my legs are feeling it! I raced over at Pineland in New Glouster Maine on Saturday for the first race of the Verge Series. It is an awsome venue and they host two days of cross each fall- it's worth checking out.

My race started at 9am, and it takes about an hour and a half to get there, so to ensure I had about an hour to warm up we left the house at 6:30am. The whole family went, so it was quite impressive to see all the girls up and adam and getting ready so early to go watch dad race his bike. The promise of course was a little vitamin G for the ride, little did they know they would have to wait almost an hour before we hit McD's. As much as I wanted a hashbrown and egg and sausage biscut I chose to pass and just went with a coffee and about two bites of sticky bun. But the girls dug in so the truck smelled like quality breakfast and I didn't get to eat any of it!

We got to Pinelands, the temp was about 38 and it was crystal clear. I walked into registration and somebody asked if I was Sven Cole, I said yes trying to figure out how the heck they knew that and came to find out her husband has raced the Rockpile Rampage and Porky Gulch in the past and is all fired up to race this year (good luck Marc!) Then once the conversation turns to Porky Gulch two other people started talking about it- looks like the word is getting out there this year- should be fun!

Anyway I finally get changed and grab the bike to head out on course, it was really nice, great flow and very single speed friendly. I ran a 38x17 and it worked quite well. There were only two spots- the paved downhill (spun out very fast) and one short pitch on a climb where I was having a tough time turning the gear. The warm up went pretty well and I quickly realized I really need to work on my cornering and or course dismount/remount. After the warm up I met up with K and the girls near the finish where the PA was, I was thinking it was a small field as I really didn't see anyone and figured that they should be staging already- finally I got nervous and asked and the guy yelled that they're staging the C's right now- final call up the hill and to get my butt moving. I stripped off my jacket and rushed to the start. The C's field had less then 50 racers, but they were starting the B Masters 30 seconds behind us and the B Masters 55+ 30 seconds behind them. I remember thinking that seemed strange to have the C's go out first with such a little gap- but hey these are top notch race organizors- what do I know!

We were off and the pace was fast and since we were going downhill on pavement I quickly started sliding back through the field. We transitioned onto grass and headed into the first barrier. I figure the best time to try and new technique is in a mass start race when you're going full speed- so I had heard that you should unclip your left foot first, then your right and scissor through- ok- I'll try that. Well all went well until my left foot slipped off as I was gliding at speed to the barrier- down I went onto my knees. Lucky for me the grass was still frosty and wet and I slid on my knees, bike still upright and was able to jump up on the fly- clear the barriers and remount without really losing to much ground- not bad I thought. Quickly we were off the bike again on this nasty off camber 90 degree turn that took you uphill for a steep grunt. Everyone was jumping off to run and then I hear someone say "here come the B's"- great. I jump back on my bike for a downhill on a jeep type road and all of the sudden I get swarmed by the fast B's and there yellin to get the hell out of the way, I trying to hold my line into a fast turn and I'm getting bumped on the right and having my line choped on the left- this isn't good. Fifteen years ago when I raced a lot of crits this type of crap would have gotten me juiced- but racing in the C's on a freezing Saturday morning, knowing my two girls and wife are waiting for me on the other side of the course I choose to play it safe- throw the eldows out to deflect and not try to force the choppers into the ditch. The rest of the first lap was pretty much like this the whole way as they sent over 100 riders out on the course in less then a minute, so it took some time for things to string out. Once it did I started to have some fun and get into the flow. At one point a girl in white sunglasses (that's all I could see as I was cross-eyed from a run-up) yelled- Go Sven Cole! I yelled back- "who is that?"- she said something but all I could hear was my heart pounding- so thanks for the cheering whoever you were! At another section of the course I was catching a guy who I'd been trading places with for two laps and a buddy of his who was watching started yelling at him that he had to catch back on cuz I only had one gear- that made me laugh and I gassed it a bit and opened a good gap that he never closed again.

I saw my girls on each lap, Lillo had a clipboard and was marking off my laps, every time by she'd say very nonchalantly "hi dad"- it cracked me up and I'd try to respond in the same tone saying "hi kiddo"- I got a couple looks for other racers each time. Lillo is in the red hat- about to say "hi dad":

On the last lap I really went hard on the last climb and caught quite a few people, of course I think I was the only one who was still sprinting for the line- buy hey if it's a race I'm going to snag every place I can!

In all it was a good race. I cleaned up and we headed to Freeport to kill some time before the men's elite race which was in the afternoon. When we got back we ran into Ward and chatted with him for awhile. We then headed to the barriers to watch. It blows my mind how fast and how smooth those guys are through the barriers. We also got to watch Jeremy Powers do his bunny hop through- which while very cool doesn't look to be any faster. Tim Johnson put on a show and won, so did his wife Lynn Bessette. Here's a shot of Jesse Anthony with Tim Johnson right behind him through the barriers on the third or fourth lap:

Sunday saw the first race of the Great Glen series. Really cool course, but much harder for me on a SS then Saturday. The downhills that you could make good time were steep enough that I was spun out fast and two of the climbs were close to max for me with the gear. The biggest issue I had was trying to get back up to speed once over the climbs. Ugg. The intermediate/elite field was huge- me, Jason P, Carl, Craig, and Dan (on a rigid mtn bike). We were off and I took up the fourth spot, blew the first remount (fell off the back of the bike) and then took up last place. I chased for the remainder of the first lap and eventually got back in front of Dan on the third lap. The course offered about 25 seconds of rest per lap (6:30ish laps)- so I was pretty cross eyed the entire time. Craig pretty much took off, Carl not to far off, Jason was about 30 seconds ahead of Dan and I and we were just seconds apart. As we came in for the bell lap Dan got in front of me, I jumped on his wheel and took advantage of some draft- but then my legs just cracked. I tried to go fast to keep Dan in site but it was all over. The last lap just hurt and I took up the rear of the group. Dan put in a big effort with half a lap to go and I thought for a moment he was going to catch Jason, but not quite. At the finish K asked me if it was time to consider gears- I don't think she liked seeing me DFL! It was super fun and K is going to start racing cross next week (so I've got a good project this week to build her a bike). Hopefully more TWAF reps will be on course!

See you on the trail.


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