The last post contained one huge error -- I didn't mention my choice host housing courtesy of Day 1 B Men's winner and all around nice guy Brian L. Yeah, that's right, I'm calling it host housing because it's a lot more pro than "staying with a friend." We had a nice floor spot on a thick carpet, in a room with its own thermostat. You might think I'm joking, but that's the perfect set up for me to get some damn sleep. Temperature control trumps bed any day.
Rested and refreshed we headed back for day two, which was a whopping 8 degrees warmer than day one. The course was the same except for one added runup and the whole thing was run backwards -- I gotta to say, this was a great way to make a course feel totally different with minimal work. The new course had anywhere from 2-4 dismounts depending on how well you could crank super-steep uphills, so it was more "crossy" (day 1 had but one dismount) and also more painful. By the last lap, scaling a bumpy wall of grass at a 35% incline is really, really hard.
This time around I was hip to the MAC staging strategy so I was totally ready to jump on the line when they did the "ok, now the rest of you line up" bit, unfortunately there was no jumping whatsoever because everyone just camps out about 6 inches behind the callups. Argh. I improved my start spot by a row or two and lined up on the outside, which immediately paid off when a guy in the center botched the clip in and put a foot down. Ten guys and twenty brakes started screaming, and I snuck around the edge into clear space as the rest of the field accelerated away. Much better progress than before.
Of course, "better" is still not "optimal" so we had plenty of first lap bottlenecking. I made what turned out to be lead-group-losing decision by NOT flipping out and sprinting around a guy who scaled half of a narrow climb straddling his top tube (see video!).. by the time we got back to the road the lead 10 had gapped us hard.
Will Dugan was racing B's to qualify for collegiate nats and he also missed the split, so he decided to close it with 1000 watts of UCI-quality power. I think I was riding with him for a few seconds there, it was hard to tell. He eventually broke his chain while leading the race, one of the dangers of putting out mad watts.
There was a short, steep, bumpy hill known as "methane hill" (I think it had a landfill's methane exhaust vent on it... welcome to Long Island!) that was the cause of countless acts of drama, you could only ride it if you were in the clear and had good balance because your bike would skip around like crazy on the bumps. Of course that didn't stop me, or anyone else, from trying to ride it on lap one, which led to a collection of bodies at the crest and me lying on my side just below them. Somehow I got through the carnage fast enough to gain some places anyway.
Next lap it was even more exciting, I had some clear space in front of me, time to ride it like a pro! Except, the two guys just up the road got tangled at the top, and right where I need to stomp that last pedal stroke there's a guy lying down trying to get his foot out of the other guy's wheel. So I lay down again... but not derailleur side!
The carnage and barely rideable climbs were gaining me steady places and after two laps the announcer told my group we were "unofficially top 10." Sweet, already better than yesterday. Richard Fries, if you're out there reading this, next time maybe you can tell me what place I'm in instead of heckling me about crossresults.com?
Just kidding, I love hearing about crossresults on the PA.
Just like yesterday, steady progress through the field made for minimal group racing. I was an infuriating 5 seconds behind Soren Klingsporn (aka Canton Crash Guy) and I could. not. close. it. I got close in the woods every lap and he'd just open it back up on the road like it was no problem. I should take my own advice and "close the friggin gap."
While chasing Soren around I had an unfortunate lapped rider incident during which I said some things that may not have been especially welcoming to someone who was apparently in his first cross race. Yeah, that's how the roll down in Southampton, the B race is a 2/3/4 (?!) so you get some first timers and about a third of the field gets lapped. Not exactly a Verge-quality field. Sorry about that, first-timer-guy.
With the race winding down, I finally picked up a hanger-on, just like before. This time, though, my hanger-on miraculously tripled my cheering fans. For the next twenty minutes I just kept wondering, why don't I recognize any of these voices screaming my name??
That's right, it was time for another alpha-Colin battle as the guy on my wheel was Colin Prensky. I was expecting to shake him, as I caught him pretty swiftly at one point, but apparently that was more of a "bad lap" than a "bad race" because he was glued to me from that point onward. I kept thinking I was going to ride away so strategy was out the window, just race haaaahd in the woods and get some space, right? Right. Finally with about two minutes to go I realized he was still right there and it was going to be sprinty time real soon.
The sprint was tricky -- 150+ yards of pavement, then a bend onto 25 yards of grass, then 40 yards to the finish line. It was either really long if you went from the start, or really short if you went from the grass. I didn't get into complex analysis of this situation until after the race, of course. We hit the first paved section and I thought to myself "my god, starting the sprint from this far out is going to hurt sooooo bad," so I sat up.
Then I decided to be a really clever guy and ride tight against the barriers so he could only come around on one side when he jumped. Oh yeah, I watch Le Tour, I'm not just some dumb mountain biker, look out!
I had this clever idea that allowed me to minimize how long I would have to sprint, because I had developed a bizarre aversion to pain in the last 30 seconds. See, I was going to let him jump first, and then I'd get his wheel, and then I'd come around on the last paved section and man, I am sooooo clever, you know?
Nowhere in my (clever) plan did I account for the possibility that he might not jump super early and give me a nice leadout, so we just kept softpedaling up the finish straight we me eying him warily.
Finally, 30 yards before the grass bend, he went and I grabbed his wheel. We turned onto the grass and I immediately realized that I had screwed up royally. The grass was super rough and pretty much un-jumpable as we both had to stay seated. The last section of pavement was gone in a flash, long before I could do anything with the draft I was allegedly experiencing, and just like that it was over, and I had lost my first sprint since I started blogging.
Seriously. It's been two years.
I've only replayed this sprint in my head about a thousand times since. I've only woken up crying twice. We're going to be okay here. I think. Then again, it's only been two days.
Linnea's Day 2 points-and-cash quest ended much like Day 1 -- a scant three places out of the money. To a spectator it looked like nothing, but after utterly failing to close even a modest five second gap to Soren earlier, I kept quiet.
Just kidding, I said a ton of stupid stuff anyway!
The video collection:
Whitmore's Cross Cup Day 2 2/3 Men Handlebar Cam Lap 1 from colin reuter on Vimeo.
Whitmore's Cross Cup Handlebar Cam Day 2 Part 2 from colin reuter on Vimeo.
Some incidents from the off-camber on Day 1:
Whitmore's Cross Cup Off Camber Excitement from colin reuter on Vimeo.
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