Putney West Hill Shop Race Report

I just checked, and in my 10-year cyclocross career I've raced Putney eight times.  EIGHT!  Pretty sure the only events on the list that can top that are Gloucester and Cycle-Smart (9).  I remember cheering for Dan Coady there ten years ago, right before he rode into a tree in a downpour, back when I was a Cat 4 but I hung around the races all day because cyclocross was so cool.  Five years ago it was also the race I went to right before my whole life exploded, but the beauty of five years is that now that's just another funny thing that happened at Putney.

The old course (did you think we were done with blogstalgia?  HA)  used to be a sub-6-minute powerfest, with a brief technical section up around the shop and then riding the perimeter of the corn field, then the road, then the runup.  It was BRUTAL for people with bad steady-state power (hi) once they lost the draft.  

Slowly, though, the course has changed, and it seems like each year they add more turns in the cornfield.  The old Putney course is gone, and what remains is a cornering and sprinting extravaganza.

Hey do you know anyone around here who likes cornering and sprinting?

Unfortunately, my prerace prep involved 5 hours of riding downhill bikes at Berkshire East without food or water, and then certain hosts refilling my margarita glass against my will at least three times.  So when I awoke Sunday morning, it was clear that I would be MANAGING THE SITUATION and not SMASHING FACES once the race started.

There were 31 guys in the 1/2/3 race (I remember back when there were 10!  I finished in the money!  It was a niche sport then!) so the start was somewhat relevant.  I got away somewhere in the middle and began managing the frickin' situation, which on lap one meant "totally not reacting when the lead group of ten guys got a gap."  Nope.  I just stayed tucked in behind Andrew Lysaght and watched the race ride away.

A much more spirited Preston came flying by us and tried to go across the gap.  I don't know if he ever made it, but he eventually spent half an hour riding by himself, so I like to think my decision was appropriate.

Anyway.   The turny nature of the course led to minimal separation, and Andrew was still trying to figure out how much traction a downed cornstalk provides, so we spent the first few laps with tons of guys HANGING OUT, with me slowly realizing that I didn't feel anywhere near as terrible as I should have given the previous day.

Notably, Cary was dangling about 10 seconds behind the group, riding by himself, which I thought looked like deliciously more work than sitting in with five other guys on the road.

Despite my perception that we weren't really going that hard, we started both shedding guys from our group and picking up stragglers from the original lead group as the race wore on.  Somewhere along the line Andrew Borden (wait I just realized why so many people were cheering for Andrew Lysaght) came to the front and towed us around for probably three more laps.

Finally as we neared two to go he realized that watching my shadow coast while he pedaled on the road was not ideal, so he flicked me though, so I FINALLY took a pull, for all of one minute.  

The thing was, while I had been managing the situation, er, chilling, for the last half hour, Andrew Lysaght had been doing the same while figuring out how to beat me.  

So when we crested the runup, he attacked, and for the first time all day the wheel in front of me got really hard to follow.

I pulled my big boy pants up and stayed in contact, though, and after the turn fest in the field I was feeling like things were going to be okay, after all.  We had picked up a dangling Preston (30 minutes alone will do that to you), so the group was four.

When we hit the road Andrew L attacked again and I distinctly remember thinking "wow, if your line onto the road hadn't sucked you probably wouldn't have had to go STUPID HARD all the way to the turn to get back into the draft."

So I was at the back of the group.  And you better believe that when we crested the runup, and I saw Andrew had five bike lengths on us, and he stood up to attack again, that all I could think was "hey, hey, you guys shouldn't let that wheel go" as he rode away.

But it was hard so we let him go.

Any plans I might've had for heroic turn shredding and gap closing were squashed by Preston's presence in the group, because the last thing I wanted was to burn all my matches chasing Andrew just to get smoked on the road by Preston.

So we just watched Andrew ride away while preparing for the inevitable road-to-runup throwdown at the end of the race.

I have blogged about this here MANY times, which is kind of problem because I think Preston has read those blogs, and as we neared the cone in the road and I could see him looking around Andrew #2, I could tell he was going to attack exactly in my preferred attacking spot.

(I don't think Andrew #2 has read those blogs though)

So Preston lit it up, and all I could do was follow him, which meant he got to the runup first!  Luckily, I knew that the left line on the runup can be faster if you're freaking out hard enough (guess Preston didn't read far enough back in the blogs) so I smashed into the back of him on the dismount, ran up the left side, and drew even with him over the top:


"I totally got this," I thought to myself, right as I remounted and caught my chamois on the back of my saddle.

I regret to report that my balls might have been a casualty of the process of finding your pedals while your chamois is caught on your saddle and your heart rate is 300 and Preston is RIGHT THERE OMFGGGGG

Somehow I managed to get in my pedals and win the sprint by a wheel.

Then I lay down on the ground and flopped around pathetically trying to figure out how to get more air into my body so I didn't die.

It was awesome.



DC said…
I have no recollection of this tree crashing. I guess when I have crashed into as many trees as I have over the years, they become harder to remember. Was it a good one?
Colin R said…
Dan - nothing terribly exciting. I remember it was just after the whoops, it was pouring rain and you lost control and just rode off the course into the trees/bushes.
DC said…
Oh, that's all. Too bad. That does sound somewhat familiar though.
Colin R said…
I remember it had just starting POURING and as I started cheering something like "IT'S SO EPICCCCCC", you lost it. And I felt like a jerk. So I remembered it.

Popular posts from this blog

A letter to everyone's parents about Coronavirus

Sam Anderson Cheats at Mountain Bike Racing

Do-It-Yourself March Cycling Blog Post