So, the plus side of having a terrible weekend of racing at Sterling is that I don't really want to write about it, so I can roll back the clock to TEN WHOLE DAYS AGO and talk about the most epic cyclocross grudge match in the world, instead.
Quick Sterling recap -- Day one was one of those days where you ride around and think about how NEXT YEAR I'M GONNA TRAIN BETTER. My legs were flatter than Iowa. Cary smashed me in our Cross Clash, and with two laps to go Richard Bardwell and JP T-R attacked me so hard I thought about downgrading to Cat 3. I beat all of five people.
Day two was totally different, the course was technical and I felt great! So of course I had a SRAM shifter malfunction on lap three, disengaging the cable and leaving me with a 34x13 singlespeed. For the first time in my life I threw my bike in disgust.
(I already talked to SRAM about it, and it turns out there was some kind of defect in the shifter they sent me, as it has a gap that allows the cable to slip out that no one else's 2011 Red shifter has. I'm getting a new one. Doesn't get me a finish, though)
Sooo anyway. Pictures!
|Hoppers gonna hop|
|Tasha makes me look so much better than I am.|
Chandler is a Cat 3, so we never get to hang out, and he's obnoxious on the internet, so I want to beat him.
Then he started talking trash for two weeks straight, because he's obnoxious on the internet, so I wanted to beat him.
It got to the point where "everyone" knew about it, and I had random people texting me, emailing me, and direct messaging me their encouragement to beat him. My favorite quote came from Mike Golay: "Colin, if you don't win this, I might have to quit social media."
I suppose I should admit at this point that I don't race well under pressure. This is why I have my best rides when I screw around and reverse-holeshot mountain bike races.
When we lined up at Shedd Park, I was *definitely* feeling the pressure. And I did not like it.
The gun went off, I had a mediocre start, and I started playing a game called "where's Chandler?"
The answer to the game, at first, was "a few riders ahead of me," and all was well.
Soon it was "a few groups ahead of me," and all was no longer well. Shedd Park is a fast, power course with plenty of drafting. I was terrified that Chandler would end up in a group with enough horsepower I could never catch it. So I panicked.
I was pushing too hard on the turn back onto the track, that I'd neglected to preride, and BAM! I got way off the racing line and went sideways through a wood stake, breaking it in half and ending up on my ass. Panic factor: doubled.
Surprisingly, panic does not motivate the legs to give 110% like desire does. I felt sick, tight, and weak. Chandler's lead got larger.
Stephen Pierce rolled past and said "I have a vested interest in helping you beat Chandler, get on my wheel." I lasted all of 10 pedal strokes before he dropped me. Things looked grim. I made sad faces at people who cheered for me. I made extra-sad faces if they exhorted me to "beat Chandler." Oh, if they only knew how bad I felt....
Thank god 'cross races are LONG. I rode a few laps while feeling bad for myself. Either everyone else slowed down, or I started to feel better, and while I never figured out how to "go hard" I was at least now "going."
Chandler crashed on the lone technical spot on course (duh), dropped his chain, and suddenly his 25-second lead was down to 10 seconds and his group was gone. My spirits rose from the ashes like a phoenix. I've got a chance!
I made contact a lap later.
Since Chandler and I are both wheelsucking sprinters with embarassing power numbers, we now had a problem.
No one wanted to work, but no one could make an attack stick. He barnacled himself to my hull the same way I do the Wilcox. I tried hitting the ride-ups with four-figure wattage, but it didn't matter. You think you're gonna drop a guy who wins 1/2/3 crits with a 5-second burst? Riiiiiight.
When I wasn't attacking, I was softpedaling, going so far as to take my hands off the bars and move over on the track. Of course, he didn't pull through.
Finally John Burns (and some other guys!) caught us, so now we could both follow a wheel. The pace picked up markedly.
|All aboard the Burns Express!|
I realized I only had one tactic I'd yet to try: hopping the barriers. I did it a bunch warming up, and it was a tiny bit faster, and I figured it would give him something else to worry about. If I pulled out the hop after five laps of racing, maybe I had other tricks up my sleeve, right? (spoiler: no, I don't)
Since he was staying directly on my wheel at all times, it was pretty straightforward to bust THE HOPS straight in his face. And apparently, this psychological warfare was the straw that broke the barnacle's grip, because when we crested the rideup thirty seconds later he was GONE.
This motivated me in a way that panic had utterly failed to motivate me half an hour prior!
So then I went really hard for a lap, and he dropped out, and that was that.
Then Burns and I rode around for the rest of the race with a junior and a 45+ guy. The 45+ guy crashed, and the junior made the mistake of taking a pull, and then it was just me an' Burns. Obviously, I drafted him for most of the race, and then dropped the hammer when he bobbled, to roll in for a totally mediocre 16th place!
Due to the magic of Chandler talking trash on the internet, people seemed to think I rode really well, even though all the elite scrubs I usually hang out with were minutes ahead of me.