So apparently the price I pay for NOT racing Night Weasels (aka "how can a mountain be a BOG" Weasels) is that the next time I did show up for a cross race in New England we would get the exact same conditions. Minus the mountain. But Day 1 at New Gloucester was all the derailleur-snapping goodness that Night Weasels was... maybe more. Out of the 23 finishers in the 60-minute elite race, I think all of 3 did it without a pit bike.
I, of course, begged/borrowed/stole Steve's bike to use as a pit bike and I was able to finish the race, although the one time I tried to go 2 laps without pitting it nearly exploded.
Even worse, everyone behind me (and there were quite a few people behind me, no, really) didn't have a pit bike because they're a scrub like me. So their bike broke and then quit. And then when the results came out I was LAST. Because JD doesn't list DNF's because he hates me.
Last place was, in fact, good enough to be IN THE MONEY so it wasn't all bad. You can see how finishing last has almost no effect on my mood here:
Watch more video of Downeast Cyclocross Weekend 2011 on cyclingdirt.org
It did have the long-term effect, though, of reminding me that a sub-300w threshold power doesn't get it done in thick mud. So when I showed up on Day 2 and saw it was still thick mud... I was like... awwwwwwwww.
Where "awwwwwww" is the sound of every last bit of motivation I had leaving my body.
The especially vexing part about this is that, since we're racing in Maine, it's time for my parents to watch their annual cross race! So whining and quitting were not an option. Suck it up and race your bike, Colin.
I drew an amazing starting position, which ended up meaning exactly nothing as Anthony Clark freaked out and almost wrecked half of the field on the first turn. In the ensuing mess I ended up with a foot down, against the fence as everyone else was sprinting... so I left the pavement ahead of about 4th people. Which, sadly, is a much more accurate place for me to be than where I started.
Then lap one happened and it was HARD. There was one epic bog run and two pretty-hard bog rides. The downhill-entrance bog ride was my bread-n-butter, but everything else was NOT. Best of all the bog run was so gnarly that I could barely keep my shoes on. The opening laps went exactly how I feared they would -- I was ahead of a few dudes, behind a lot of dudes, and it HURT, and not in a "this pain is productive and I'm kicking ass" kind of way.
I actually spent most of the first twenty minutes trying to figure out where Cary was. In addition to being my roomate, he had also skipped Saturday's race (due to "illness") and is a Cross Clash nemesis. There are about 500 Embro guys floating around the back of the Elite field these days (burn?) so it was a challenge to find him. I actually thought for a while he might've been crashed out at the start... but eventually I found him -- 20 seconds ahead.
But not getting further ahead.
Situations like this are exactly why the Cross Clash is a brilliant idea. My parents were watching my roommate beat me, which is already frustrating enough, but now the entire INTERNET was going to see it? That's too much. Maybe, just maybe, I can solve this problem if I toughen up and RIDE MY FACE OFF.
The crowd was solid too. I dunno, there's times where people cheer for you and you're like "shut up, I suck" and it doesn't do anything, or they cheer for you when you're drafting someone and you're like "yes, I got this, don't worry"... but when you're burying yourself to claw back a 20 second deficit, hell YES does cheering make a difference. I was chipping away ever-so-slowly, but I was getting there -- and then Cary noticed.
He immediately went from riding last in the group ahead to riding at the front, to dropping them and heading off solo. Because I was CLOSING in a manner usually reserved for THE WILCOX.
My frustration at catching Cary's group now that Cary was no longer in it was manifested by breaking the internals on yet another SRAM Rival shifter*.
But! But wait. It's a muddy day and, for once in my life, I've got a pit bike arranged. I wasn't planning on pitting, but you know, I like having more than two gears, so now I'll be racing the rest of the day on Steve Hopengarten's bike.
I would like to complain about his bike, but come on, if I break that shifter on a dry day it's a DNF because I wouldn't have anything in the pit. Thus his bike was the bestest thing in the history of bikes.
I paid the 5 second penalty to go through the pit (so. much. mud.) and got a shifting bike. Then I resumed my frantic chase of Cary.
It should be noted that we were on pace to ride 10 freaking laps. Of course, that really means that I need to ride a 90% of Lindine-speed just to finish -- and it was NOT a "90% of Lindine" kind of day. The laps were ticking down.. and with two to go, I saw him across the field. He was far enough back, of course, that the gap would be insurmountable to most humans, but the Honey Badger isn't most humans. I realized that I was on my last lap.
I dug deep and finally dragged myself up to Cary's wheel.
We were riding so abnormally fast (for scrubs) at this point (because I was not the only guy whose caremeter is affected by Cross Clash and cohabitation) that somehow the gap to Stephen Pierce plummeted down to NOTHING, even though I hadn't seen Stephen all day, and then there were THREE.
With just over a minute left in the lap, Lindine came through in his pursuit of tasty larvae to eat, and the three of us pulled well off to the side because we know how to get friggin' lapped. Then we reset our race (like gentlemen!) and proceeded. Cary seemed confused at the civility of it all, but Stephen understood immediately and took off like a man possessed.
If you raced Downeast, you know how much off-camber technical awesomeness the lap finished with. Diane was standing at the pavement, ready to pull us the second we hit the straight -- so the obvious choice was to start dive-bombing and chopping each other like our lives depended on it.
Cary left the door open and (since there are no rules with 60 seconds left!) I promptly dove right for the corner. His balance was good and we slid around the off camber shoulder-on-should, but I couldn't get by. But this set him up oddly for the next turn, possibly because I had leaned on him, or possibly because back-to-back handling feats are impossible for him, so he had to swing wide on the exit. I saw it coming, set up the late apex, and got past him just in time to make the last turn.
We hit the pavement and Diane said "you're done," and I was like "that was the most epic battle for 28th place I have ever had!"
So between the roommate-factor, the parents-factor, and the #CXClash-factor I got like 120% out of my legs and it was awesome. 29th/35 ain't so awesome, but hey, it's better than 23/23!
|I complained about the lack of dollar handups on Day 1, so Jordan found me on the next lap with 75 cents in quarters. In related news, there's now three quarters buried deep in a field at New Gloucester.|
* - I got it warrantied with SRAM Red. We'll see if it lasts. I love SRAM's customer service, but I've reached the point where I don't think Rival is a viable gruppo for cross racing. Your mileage may vary.