Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Casco Bay Cross

I headed to Portland this past weekend to take part in the 1st Annual Casco Bay Cross presented by What a fantastic venue, right on the Eastern Prom with Casco Bay as a backdrop, a playground in the middle of the set up and a kick ass course.

My family made the trip with me and while getting ready my wife asked if she could do anything to help. I asked her to take my spare wheels to the pit for me, she looked at me and laughed- the sort of “my husband is being a poseur” laugh that only a wife can provide. In a way I agreed. I had succumbed to the “buy my way to fast” adage that I hated 20 years ago when I first started racing. When the older guys would show up with the most zooted out stuff but a lack of race fitness. Well guess what- I’m thumbing my nose at my 16 year old self ‘cuz I like all my cycling toys, especially my Salsa Chilli Con Crosso- even if I am slow these days.

Anyway I was darn glad I had brought that extra set of wheels- more on that in a moment. I warmed up on the trainer and tried to figure out what to wear- shorts or knickers, light long sleeve jersey or the heavy one. I went with knickers and the heavy jersey. I was plenty warm, but not overly, so I was happy with my decision.
The course started with a mild climb on pavement then jumped onto grass for a few 180 type turns, then a fast (or it was fast for some) stretch down to the first of many off camber turns. It was here that the Pit was located, which was good to know because I was soon going to need it. I was near the back of the back at the start but felt I’d get a chance to move up once I had a lap into my legs.

Little did I know that ¼ of the way through the first lap I was going to tear out the sidewall to my rear tire, and while it didn’t flat, it did urge me to ride very gently back to the pit as I wasn’t sure when it was going to blow as the tube was making its way out of the casing, I’m assuming to enjoy the fresh ocean air. The tire was thub dubbing inside the frame and driving me nuts, but I nursed it back to the backside entrance to the pit- where Craig Harrison was yelling at me to go faster on the descent, which I was riding very slow trying not to blow the wheel out completely.

I got to the top of the run up and yelled to see if I could Pit from that side (the sign said yes- but I was a bit cross-eyed from the run up- about the only place I’d been able to go all out). Big Al jumped over to help me take out the rear wheel- I think I tried to make a joke about Cadel Evans and his wheel change at the Vuelta- or maybe I made that joke in my head to myself- not sure. But soon I was off- after a bit of wrestling with the straddle cable.

I was in last place- but plenty of people to chase! So off I went. Soon I’d caught one rider and was moving up on another- the main pack was well up the course- so I was in a bit of a TT, but that was ok as the course was so much fun the ride. I took lap 2 and 3 fairly clean and felt I was gaining on a few riders who were now in striking distance.

On a remount I felt the front wheel slide as I came down on the bike, and a second latter the thub dub again, this time my front wheel (which was good as I didn’t have a third rear wheel)- argh! I nursed the bike back around the course- losing ground and again taking up last place. Another wheel change, and then a big effort as I headed out for my bell lap.

I had one guy in my sites, fellow rider Herb Keller, and I gave it all I had to catch him- after all I had paid my race fee- so I was supposed to race right? I felt pretty good, but realized I really didn’t have any top end speed at all (maybe I should work on that).

I finished up and the girls wanted to know why I kept “popping” tires. K laughed and said that it was a good thing I had brought extra wheels. I looked at the wheels and thought- maybe I should have ridden with more air (check that- I know I should have ridden with more air) and need to look at the where the brake pads engage the rim. Then I looked up and took in the view. Casco Bay at our feet, cross racing at our backs- it doesn’t get much better.

Kudos to everyone who worked on the race- job well done. I’m sure we’ll see it again next year. Thanks to Big Al for helping me in the Pit and thanks to my wife and kids for coming out and cheering. Can’t wait for the next race!

Ride on,


No comments: