Whew. You know it's been an ugly week when I can't get Sunday's report up until Thursday. I actually considered skipping this report entirely, but blogging is like bike racing -- once you drop out once, it gets easier and easier each time after that.
All you people with dead blogs out there know what I'm sayin.
So, Wicked Creepy Cross! Last year's course was totally awesome so they brought it back virtually unchanged. In fact, the only thing that changed was the sand pit -- last year it was pretty short and pretty hardpacked. This year it was twice as long, with a 90 degree turn, and an inch of rain overnight turned it into a wet sand pit.
You might think that a wet sand pit would pack down and become a piece of cake, but you'd be wrong. Dead wrong. This was without question the hardest sandpit I've ever faced. Normal, dry sand is light and fluffy. A motivated rider can plow through it at will, churning through it a flurry of flying sand, like a breaching whale. Wet sand does not act like this. It's soft enough to sink you several inches deep, and hard enough to not get out of the way. It doesn't matter how fast you come in, it doesn't matter how hard you try to stay in the someone else's rut, by the end of the pit you will be putting out 400 watts to move at 3 mph.
It was brutal. Just the way it should be.
The NYCROSS scene is very heckle-oriented, so I skipped a serious warmup to watch Linnea and MegA race and shout increasingly stupid things at them on the runup. Linnea and Kate Northcott rode together at the front for a bit until Linnea "threw up in her mouth" (that's hot) and Kate kind of rode away. My cheers of "please wait for my girlfriend" were not enough to get her back in contact so she ended up second. Boo-hoo.
Then it was time for my race, 60 minutes of pain at the hands of Matt White and friends. We had 19 starters so I only needed to beat 4 people for a $10 payday (woohoo! 40% of my entry fee!) but the field was stacked, as I looked around at the start I realized there definitely weren't 4 people here that I can say I always beat.
I thought I was going pretty hard up the hill at the start, but when we slowed a bit a few people came around me, more than I even realized were behind me. A quick check confirmed that 100% of the people behind me were now in front of me. Marvelous.
The course gets the majority of its power sections from short, punchy climbs, so passing was painful no matter where you did it. I settled in at the back and started moving up slowly, making most of my places with the apex-early-and-sprint-for-the-next-corner move. A steady ride up the ranks had me in 13th when I finally got some clear space.
There was a dude from Syracuse Velo or something 10-15 seconds ahead of me, and since I had been chewing up the spots in front of me I figured I would bridge across to him next. Two more laps of hammering and improving my lines on the corners got me almost there, and a final sprint up the start climb got me to his wheel. Alright. Gap has been closed, rest a bit, then move on, right?
Right... the first problem was that a course this twisty doesn't allow for much drafting, so I wasn't exactly resting. The second problem was that I had overestimated my awesomeness (a common problem, when your awesomeness is as negligible as mine) and was now sitting deep in the hurt box with five laps to go.
I took the lead to show him who was boss. Five seconds later he passed me back.
I noticed with some consternation that he was riding pretty fast, which is strange, because I had just caught him. Then I noticed he had a lead of a few bike lengths, which was even stranger, because I was supposed to be sitting on his wheel. Then we got to the runup and I realized he had put ten seconds on me in the last two minutes and it was time to go straight to damage control mode.
And man, did I control that damage! I had a 30-40 second lead on James Morrison behind me at this point so it should have been pretty easy to roll in 13th, but he started chipping away at it immediately. How many seconds did I lose that lap? How far back is he? Why can I not do division while racing?? I tried frantically to figure out if I could hold him off until the end.
Then I realized that if I just dug into the proverbial suitcase of courage, I would be fine, no math required. So I hurt really bad for a few laps. It worked enough that I felt like trying to ride the 3-step runup on the last lap:
I was not successful. But I hung on to 13th anyway.
For a cooldown I drove to Albany and got on a plane to Los Angeles. Then I got sick.
Am I making excuses for Northampton already? You betcha.
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