This year was especially good because I got sick the week before and just barely got my bike built and tubulars glued by Saturday morning. I felt like a sheep going to the slaughterhouse.
But you know, low expectations are the key to happiness.
GMCX Day 1: If you'd done GMSR this would seem easyI drew a horrible starting spot, which was actually exactly what I wanted.
(Quick aside, it's pretty cool that we had something like 30 starters in the UCI races at GMCX. I remember back when there would be 30 guys and all you had do was not break your bike to get paid)
So the race goes off and I am bottled up at the back with everyone else, but unlike guys with top-25 dreams, I don't waste any energy trying to pass guys while we ride warp speed on everything that isn't a turn.
I was shocked to discover after a lap of this that I actually wanted to go faster. Well, wait, everyone always "WANTS" to go faster. I could go faster.
I hopped forward a group or two (on the climbs, no less!) until I rolled onto Ian Schon's wheel and decided to hang out for a bit. But! It turns out that Schon's wheel is not a safe place to hang out. We were climbing in the groove (you know the groove, the one that crashes someone every year?) and he clipped his pedal on the side of it, and since I was four inches behind him I basically body slammed his head back into the ground right after he crashed.
My reaction to this was "omigawd my race is overrrrrrr" as I dropped 15 seconds and five spots, because that sort of hyperbolic drama is how everything seems when your brain isn't getting enough oxygen.
But a lap later I was back to the group I'd been with, and a lap after that I was ahead of the group, because for some reason I still couldn't fully understand I could PEDAL HARD!
So I kept riding through dudes, although to be fair, my process kind of changed to "draft dudes on the climbs, attack dudes on the descent to make it to the next group." Such is the nature of the enduro cx racer.
|Christin is sadly sidelined with a knee injury right now, so she's dedicating herself to taking photos and sharing flasks.|
I caught Matt Timmerman, the secret, second Timmerman.
At this point I was cramping a little on the climbs, because LEGS, and I still hate you, Green Mountain course.
So on the last lap, there were some guys just ahead of us, and Matt wanted to get there BAD, and my legs were like, "you've been catching dudes on the downhill all day, you'll be fine, relax."
But it didn't work like that at all, Matt ripped the descent as you might expect a Timmerman to do, and at the bottom I was still four seconds back.
My reward for getting gapped was not having my legs blown off by Isaac Howe in the sprint and taking 32nd, which was the best 32nd place ever because of my low expectations.
GMCX Day 2: We shortened the lap so you can climb the hill more times
The random-number gods reversed their fate and I drew a SICK start spot on day two, first row behind the guys with UCI points. I was a little afraid of being this far up, partly because my "start slow" strategy worked so well from the day before and partly because it put me smack dab in the middle of the kill zone that is "dudes who think they can get UCI points and will kill you for your line on lap one."
There was also a mudhole about 100 yards from the downhill start. I'd like to point out that UCI rules don't allow (1) downhill starts or (2) non-paved starts, but hey, rules are really just a suggestion, I'm sure having 60 guys sprint into muddy ruts will be fine!
(Stop whatever you're doing and enjoy this video of the crash. It's so good! I'm the guy running with his bike at the end. Yay, bike racing!)
So 6 seconds after the start, Lukas Winterberg's bike slid in a rut because he was sprinting and he's really strong, so Todd Wells had to move over, but Jerome Townsend couldn't move over with him because of the fence, and then everything pretty much went kablooie.
My amazing reaction time/lack of aggression/how far people slide on grass meant I was able to stop in time with my front wheel resting on Jesse Keough, which was cool, except 0.2 seconds after stopping I got hit from behind by Cary AND HE PUT A HOLE IN THE BUTT PANEL OF MY NEW SKINSUIT!
Then John Burns crashed on top of him (watch the video again, it's a hidden gem!) and I ran off with my bike because the 50 dudes that weren't on the group were still racing bikes.
Thanks to the miracle of the lap-one bottleneck, I got back in contact with the bike race somewhat quickly, albeit in DEAD LAST.
Certain 19-year-olds in our race had had a similar fate in the crash and were basically losing their composure over it, so let me explain something here to anyone who is new to the UCI race or new to critical thinking.
Everyone in the race is a pretty competent bike racer. Part of the reason why the "scrub zone" of the UCI race is so frustrating is because NO ONE sucks enough to be easy to get past. You will get the door closed on you repeatedly, you will get outsprinted out of/into every corner, that's just HOW IT IS. The solution to your frustration is NOT to start bodychecking people. The easy way to get past is to pedal really hard on the straightaways AFTER everyone has finished accelerating. If that's too hard for you, guess what? You're not that much better than the guys you're passing, so you might want to treat them with some respect since you're going to see them all season.I'm not saying you can't chop and divebomb anyone on lap one, but aggressively initiating physical contact is not a cool idea unless you're so good, cat 2's would be honored. (i.e. "Todd Wells elbowed me on his way to the front after he crashed, OMG I'M NEVER WASHING THIS SKINSUIT AGAIN")
Back to the bike racing.
Much like the day before, I had something resembling LEGS, so I was able to jump up a few groups from my terrible starting position. The difference from yesterday was that the lap was shorter, so we had to go up the hill more often, so after three laps I was already not feeling so LEGGY, and then the lap cards said "six to go" and that was the most brutal heckle I got all day.
I made a deal with myself that we'd probably get eighty-percented with 2 laps to go, so I only had four laps to go (that's "only" eight more times up the hill!), and I was able to keep pedaling using that logic.
I settled into a fun group of dudes to ride with: Adam Sullivan, Andrew Lysaght, Matt Means, and Chris Field. Andrew and Adam were apparently fighting for the KOM jersey since they took turns making us ride ungodly hard up the hill... however Adam seemed to win most of them, and since he is not an enduro cx racer, it always came back together on the downhill with him leading.
I started diverting power from my legs into my brain and realized, coming up on two laps to go, that only TWO DUDES were left on the course behind us. Meaning everyone else had been pulled. Meaning we MIGHT BE GETTING PULLED!
I put in a very high-quality attack over the top of the climb into the descent, because by golly did I want to be leading the group when we got pulled.
We went past the pit and the official looked at his watch, looked at me, and then.... didn't reach for his whistle.
So then everyone went by me on the climb and it was really hard to hang on. Also now everyone in the group knew where I was going to attack.
A lap and a half of suffering later, we were the last guys on the course and it became THE ENDGAME.
Adam Sullivan wound it up to attack, wrapped his chain around his spider during the process (Di2'ed!!), and then there were four.
Andrew Lysaght, extremely familiar with my end-of-race-shenanigans, turned the suffering up to 11 on the lat climb, which got rid of Chris Field and brought us suddenly very close to a cracked Evan Huff, going into the last downhill.
Huff's lack of urgency led to the three of us swarming him in the final chicane. Him being my teammate/coworker I was not planning on passing him, but when the other two got past there wasn't much I could do except shout "on your left" and hope he recognized my voice and was in a good/delirious mood. He left the door open, I got through, and then we had a three-up sprint for 35th. My shenanigans were good enough to win it, in a race time of 1:11:34, jaysus, no wonder that race hurt.
|I'm so happy with how the new kits (designed by Ryan White) look, I smile on the runup!|