Palmer Cyclocross Race Report

I don't want to bore you with my non bike racing life, but man, it's been a busy week. So busy I completely forgot about a race report for Sunday's race! Which is a bummer since I tried to allude to it in the Baystate report.

So anyway, I got my butt kicked at Baystate, so I drank a bunch of water and did the Anna McLoon recovery jog special that night, I figured I'd try anything to get some form back. Sunday morning hits and I still feel like crap, but is it crappier than the average post-race morning? I can't tell. Get in the car!

The Palmer course was a pure reversal from Baystate. Narrow doubletrack that was singletrack if the guy in front rode in the middle for 70% of the course. As rooty as any woods trails that's been ridden on for 20 years. Five dismounts per lap, triple barriers, three runups, one of which was obscenely long. I don't actually know what old school jungle cross is like, but I suspect this is it.

We lined up with what felt like around 30 or so people. In true cross fashion, I lurked around the start area for five minute waiting for the lineup call, and then the second I go to my car to get my glasses, 20 people line up. So I snuck into the 3rd row somewhere and then we got rolling.

The opening stretch was surprisingly long and straight, long enough that the pack hit cruising speed before the first turn, so those of us in the back who wanted to move up just went straight past cruising speed into sprinting speed and moved up the outside. This worked great and I made it into the top 10 as we tore into the 90 degree left into the woods. Unfortunately, the course here narrowed down into two abreast and we tried to go through three wide -- someone took an aggressive/reckless line between me and the guy to my left, hitting both of us.

The interloper of course was fine, he squeezed through as we collapsed behind him. I used my Chainbiter experience (thanks Rosey) to hold a line even as the guy next to me fell sideways into my bars and arm. Over a space of 10 yards he slowly toppled over, slowed by my body, cursing the whole way, until eventually eating it hard, with his bike flying into the air beyond him.

Amazingly he turned out to be fine, and no one else even got caught up in the crash, but I didn't know that until after the race. At the time I was pretty spooked because I've never been that close to what seemed like a really bad crash. It actually affected my ability to race hard for the next few minutes because I was like, wow, that guy is going to the hospital and he might think it was my fault.

But eventually the lactic acid overpowered my empathy and we got down to business. There was the standard group of fast starters up the road and I was hanging around 6th place. The crash strung things out nicely behind me so there was no swarm around me at any point -- I was the swarmer instead of the swarmee, except you can't swarm anyone on singletrack so I was just blocked.

I rode through after one lap with Ben Corbalis, a guy who owns me on a mountain bike, but he seemed like he was slowing down on the field so I went around and never saw him again. Surprising, but I'll take it. Meanwhile the other Ben C, the Putney winner, was gobbling up the field after a bad start and I was not spared his wrath. He came up behind, rode my wheel for a half lap, dropped me on the big run up and motored off into the distance.

With six laps to go I didn't have the guts to race his race so I stayed within the limits and kept rollin. The early rabbits were coming back, or at least some of them, so I picked up a few places despite going backwards in relation to Ben.

The course had three runups, but the first one was short. My goal became to ride it -- it was one of those super-steep quick ups that only takes 6 steps to run, and no matter how fast you ride in you stop dead in a few seconds. It was getting pretty torn up from people climbing it which wasn't helping, you had to come swinging in through some singletrack, take two frantic pedal strokes and then try to keep pedaling as you shot straight up. Lap one I had no chance because of traffic; lap two I decided to run it, but that was lame so lap three was another shot at riding it. Unfortunately I got blocked at the last second by Ethan P on a singlespeed when he tried to ride it and end up stalling well before the top. Uh-oh...time to topple off to the side and backwards, landing at the bottom. Well that wasn't very fast.

But I honed my technique over the next five laps. I never got to the point where I could clean it, but I eventually got the to the point where I could put one foot down and take a quick step to get over the top, while straddling the bike.

This extremely effective and ugly technique helped me stabilize my position in third and eventually start moving forward. The early leader had been Guenter Hofer who was now joined by Ben Coleman. Coleman caught him pretty soon after passing me, so when I saw him sitting behind Guenter I figured he was just biding his time.

Unfortunately for me while Ben was recovering I was dragging myself back to the front with grim determination. I finally made contact on the smallest runup with 1.5 laps to go -- and just as expected, on the straightaway into the triple barriers Ben attacked.

I had been chasing for several laps and I didn't think I could beat him, so I took the easy route and didn't react, deciding instead to race Guenter for second. In retrospect, it was totally lame and defeatist, but at the time my legs found it to be quite an attractive idea. So I sat lazily in third as the bell lap started, but Guenter was cracking after leading from the gun and as soon as I took a turn at the front I started to pull away.

Ben was still dangling in the distance, ten seconds or so, but he was solid enough on the roots and terribly fast on the smooth stuff. I might have closed the gap to 8 seconds by the last runup, but even after flying up it like a hyperactive monkey with crampons was he still 20 yards ahead, so I packed it in and took my second place.

Somehow 25-30 riders on the start line turned into 17 people on results because lapped riders and DNFs didn't get scored. So luckily, no upgrade points from that one so I can keep on sandbagging 3's, huzzah!


solobreak said…
My course side spy said many of those who were lapped dropped out.

On the number of starters, not much is spelled out in the rule book, but this year the officials reported the number of starters at many road races. Bikereg often lists it. Again, not much in the rule book, but historically there has been no guarantee or even requirement that comprehensive results be posted. Technically, the "number of places" (i.e. prizes) listed on the flyer is all that matters. Back when top 6 was all that counted for upgrade, if they only paid 5, you might be S.O.L. Back then you had to go to the Chief Ref and get the back of your license signed to "prove" you actually got the placing, so you could argue your case at that time. With regard to the number of starters today, this is something you could address with the Chief Ref/Judge at the time the results are posted. If the number of starters is not listed, as for it to be if you want the points. Bikereg is not affiliated with the feds and as you know, are really nothing more than media listings.
Colin R said…
Hey, just because USA cycling doesn't have a rule that says "you must post comprehensive results," doesn't mean that you shouldn't.

If the feds made their information publicly available, I wouldn't be running
solobreak said…
Not only do I wish they did results, but personally I think they could do the registration service for a lot less the $2.50 per rider. Yes, it's the riders getting nickel and dimed, but if you totaled it up the line item would be a lot more than we pay for officials, for instance. But I've beat this horse before, maybe even right here on your blog, and the position isn't too popular, especially with friends of bikereg.
Colin R said…
Not only do I wish they did results, but personally I think they could do the registration service for a lot less the $2.50 per rider.

Does "they" in the sentence refer to BikeReg? Because they do results... just not officially.

Of course they could do it for less than $2.50 per rider. But capitalism is a bitch like that.

I was thinking about what it would take to compete with BikeReg with regards to an online registration site -- and I came to the conclusion that it would be really hard. They have a really effective set of tools for organizers in place, for me to write the code that covers everything they do would take months and months. To get people to switch over from Bikereg would be even harder -- you'd have to have a toolset the blows the competition away, like Gmail vs Hotmail. I don't think lowering the $2.80 per rider charge would be enough, and if your counter-bikereg site started to gain some traction bikereg could always lower their rates to match yours.

Maybe I'll do it if I ever get laid off.
josh said…
psh, your report missed a key aspect.

me cheering for you loudly.
while eating a cheeseburger.
which I was trying to offer as a handup/preme at one point.
while drinking a coke.
still in spandex.
on lap 4.
of a race I started.
Colin R said…
see that's why i need to write these things on monday instead of thursday, i would have remembered that.

you really tried to offer a hamburger handup? you should have waved it like, right in my face on the runup. actually, maybe you did -- i was just staring at the ground and praying for the hill to end, I wouldn't have noticed until it hit my nose.
solobreak said…
By "they" I mean the USCF. We already provide them with our personal data and CC numbers in order to get a license. So it's reasonable to assume the basic infrastructure they need is in place. The USCF is already responsible for scoring the race, so they are the best positioned to publish the results too, as well as tabulate them over time as you do now. So why don't they do it? I'm not sure. Bikereg came out with the right service at the right time and the tools work well and he makes money. But individual promoters each have to contract with him (or a competing service). This does not make sense to me. When you take out a USCF permit for a race, it should be one stop shopping. At the very least, the USCF should be able to put the prereg/results service out to bid and get a more competitive rate than 2000 individual promoters. But I still believe the USCF could do this for cost, and passing this on to the riders/promoters should still be a fraction of what we pay now. This would also make the USCF more accountable for compiling results from all races. Their current ranking system puts it on the promoter to send them in, the results are non-standard, and the rankings are incomplete. I mean, in Socal all results are published with the riders license number. That would make what you do a bit easier, huh? I manage to avoid being ranked in your system by entering every other race as "Dave" instead of "David"...
Colin R said…
oh hell yes. I have dreams about license numbers on results.

Do you know they do the reg/results service out west? Bikereg is mostly an east coast thing.

you do know that i have a form you can use to fix the dave/david issue, right?
solobreak said…
Yeah, I know about the form. Who said I want it fixed? If I race on Sunday, maybe I'll conjure up another alias.

Out west I am not sure if they have a service at all. The SW regional quasi-USCF arm (similar to NEBRA) handles the results, I believe. Their calendar, oddly enough, is much smaller than ours. For cross, at, Dot Wong pretty much does EVERYTHING. I'm not sure if they have online reg at all though. bikereg is certainly available to them, but he just doesn't seem to have penetrated that market yet.
solobreak said…
Socal is using this:
josh said…
I did put it in your face. It was half eaten though by lap 4 or 5, and by the next lap there was maybe 1 big, or 2 small bites left. (I had cheeto's too, but now way I was offering up those suckers).

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