Baystate Cyclocross Race Report

It's been a "fun" November. Since Northampton I was sick, then I kind of sucked, then I sucked a bit less. If you click those links you will not find awe-inspiring tales of me overcoming adversity... but you will find enough bad results that Richard Fries told me I was "inconsistent," so apparently it's kind of noticeable.

Anyway. The expectations for Sterling were pretty tepid, the plan was to convert a front row start into a decent position and try to hang onto the top ten to stay on the front row in Rhode Island next week. That's right, the NBX courses are so suited to me, er, awesome, that my goal here was basically "don't drop out of the top 8 in the series."

Unlike last year's debacle there were some things in my favor, the Baystate course crew had made the course waaay tighter than years past (thanks C Todd!) and a hard overnight frost was melting into a layer of slime on top of ice in some crucial areas. It was far more technical than in years past. The horse jump was downright terrifying because of how icy and slippery the ground in the dismount area was, it was impossible to speed-check with your feet, whatever speed you got off the bike at was how fast you were going to have to scale the jump. I discovered this on the preride lap and ended up running past the jump entirely, into a pricker bush.

We lined up in an inch of softening mud on the track and got ready for a disgusting opening lap. With the monster runup coming just a minute into the race, we all wanted to get there first, so the track lap was HOT, and also BLINDING thanks to gallons of water being thrown airborne every second. Everyone except the first wheel was eating mud, and I was not the first wheel.

Over the top and down into the horse jump I was hanging in, around 6th or so, when one of the Nantucket Velo guys did exactly what I did on the preride lap, bobble after dismounting at 1000 miles per hour on ice. I think his body survived but his bike definitely made a huge impact on SOMETHING, the jump probably. Anyway, free place, and another reminder that I would be taking that spot carefully for the remainder of the race.

Ten seconds later we headed into the icy corner zone with Slim Patterson leading, and his attempts to corner like a pro downhiller put him on the ground in a hurry because he's only a semi-pro. I moved up to fourth with Tosca, Pronovost and McNicholas ahead.

This is where my lack of confidence, thanks to three weeks of stinking up the joint, screwed me, because Dylan was in it to win it from the gun and we were cranking, going so fast I cleaned the rideup easily, in the 46 ring. I got slightly gapped after the barriers and made the "business decision" to let them go, I was happy with fourth and there was a long time left. In retrospect I feel like a chump, but at the time my legs hurt a lot. You know how it is.

Slim came back through at some point so I sat on his wheel, I figured after his results at Noho and USGP he was a sure ticket to the front of the race... but a lap later the train of guys we were towing kept growing, and I was feeling far too recovered so I had to go around. The train came with me and Slim drifted back.

Soon after a Lee-McCrae kid on Thanksgiving break came through going fast, he'd probably come off the back row and he was probably a lot faster than us. I continued my plan of "don't cover anything because you're scared of blowing up," and this time it actually worked because he crashed after opening up a decent gap and we brought him back. I think he crashed again later, too, which was fortunate since he had obscene amounts of power when the rubber side was down.

Eventually the guys up the road broke up, because riding with Dylan will do that to you, so we were steadily gaining on Hunter in third place. There was definitely drafting available and I was once again a bit recovered, so I tried to make an "attack" and "bridge across" to him after someone told us the gap was thirteen seconds. A lap of above average pain later, I made it. Man I am so smart, I will just sit on his wheel and then attack again and ride away with third place, yay! Except, not a minute later the rest of the old group showed up and we had four or guys together racing for third.

The tough course conditions and intermittent power sections kept the order changing, it appeared my companions were all of the "big power" variety so I spent a fair amount of time groveling on the back of train, and then moving up on the corners or when people crashed. Eventually with just over one to go the pace picked up enough that we started to drop Hunter, alas I was tail gunning so I also got dropped... that would be why I usually scream "get off the back" at people when I'm cheering. Some hard work and a scary-fast barrier entry got me back to the other two, Lees McCrae guy and Nantucket Velo's Todd Burns.

I was trying to figure out how the heck I was going to win the race for 3rd against these two guys, since LM guy had been flying on the road and Todd Burns has been previously noted here for being a "pile of muscle," and the last minute of Sterling is very roadie-friendly. My problem was partially simplified by LM guy turning on the jets with half a lap to go, apparently he had a lot in reserve, and he ended up putting 13 seconds on us by the finish. So it was down to me against Todd.

I was resigned to trying to win a sprint because the only other place that I thought I could make a move was at the barriers, and trying to stick a gap from there was gonna "hurt wicked bad." But then, he bobbled on the rideup and I got a small gap, giving me a chance to try to stick a gap from even further out.

So I hurt wicked bad for three minutes, and hung onto a four second gap and fourth place.

Linnea's race didn't go nearly as well, apparently sleeping for three hours in the car on race morning is not a recipe for success, while drinking tons of coffee and slapping yourself to stay awake is. Duly noted.

On Sunday I had high hopes to head for Palmer for some local-1/2/3-race throwdown action, but the check engine light in my car came on, and Matty O was offerring a 3-hour cross ride in the woods instead. When he mentioned that "Tim and Lyne" were coming that pretty much sealed the deal, so Linnea and I undertook the "Superfan challenge" on Sunday, where you ride around with two of the best cross racers ever to come out of North America and try not to be obviously giddy the entire time. I think we succeeded, but it wasn't easy.

The highlight of the day was undoubtedly when I came into a recently melted, muddy, sweeping turn next to Tim and thought to myself, "oh crap, don't crash right next to Tim freaking Johnson!" and then immediately laid it down, sliding a good twenty feet and coating myself in mud. He thought it was hilarious, but only because I was on the outside. B racer crashing himself: funny. B racer ending your season: not funny.


trackrich said…
You would have loved Palmer... mountain biker's paradise. I suppose embarassing yourself in front of Timmy is a fair exchange though...
EyeBob said…
Yeah, Palmah was fun, you'd have killed it.

Rumor has it that Paul Curley didn't like a log jump that was in place so he had it moved....So the 4's and the 35's had it for their race, but not the 45's.

Just a rumor at this point though.

Anonymous said…
the log was cut and moved, whether or not that was Curley's call is undetermined. It was Gearworks guys that did it though.
trackrich said…
Curley orchestrated it... he grabbed all the 45+ guys he knew and had them help move it. It was early in the course on a slight downhill in the woods, but it was more an annoyance than a danger. No real good reason to take it out IMHO...
G-ride said…
said the guy with long legs. Curtis Boivin pulled his groin on it in the M35
Colin R said…
Pssh. If you think an obstacle is dangerous, that's why you have brakes on your bike.
trackrich said…
Did he? Bummer. Still... it seemed no higher than a barrier...

The 4-pack was funny... they had them spaced close enough that I was able to single-step the first 2 or 3 as long as I came in at mach 12. Never made all 4 single-stepping...
matt said…
I loved the 4-pack and by the end of the race had a pretty good cadence through there.

Adam Snyder hopped them for the first 4 or 5 laps until he tried running them and discovered that was faster.
Big Bikes said…
"If you click those links you will not find awe-inspiring tales of me overcoming diversity... but you will find enough bad results that Richard Fries told me I was "inconsistent," so apparently it's kind of noticeable."

I think you meant "overcoming ADVERSITY" and Richard Fries told you you were "INCONTINENT".

Overcoming diversity should be left to the Republicans and The Klan.
Colin R said…
oh god, what a horribly stupid typo.

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