Tuesday, October 16, 2012

And we're off

After 2 years of racing cyclocross, I FINALLY bagged my first win. The fact that it came on a tandem and we were the only entrant in the race didn't diminish the excitement in the least. It wasn't fun because we won, it was fun because we did it. I've ridden a tandem a few times (I have a vintage three speed tandem with drum brakes that I've cruised around the neighborhood with a time or two) and Rick Plowman (my stoker) had ridden one on the rail trail with a friend, but we had never ridden together, prior to Saturday morning.  And if our first ride was any indication of things to come, I should have put 911 on speed dial. Right out of the box on our test ride, less than 2 pedal strokes in, I snapped the seat post and went crashing backwards into Rick's lap. I grabbed the seat post off my pit bike, made the quick swap, and we got rolling again. About a quarter mile into the second attempt, the rear tire was getting squishy and by the time we got back to the truck the tire was flat. A quick change of the tube and we were back in business but racing to make the starting line in time.

To be honest, I fully expected to pile the bike up and end up headed to the ER with some kind of major injury. But God smiled upon us as we not only avoided any injuries, but we actually avoided crashing all together. Thanks to the location, the topography made things bearable as the course was mostly flat with only 2 short steep descents and 1 run up and 1 rideable (on a normal bike) switch-backed climb. But where the course lacked difficulty in elevation change, JR sure put the screws to us with a fairly technical race course. Next week will sure be a different story...

My second race of the day was the Master 40+. Surprisingly, after the Tadem ride, I wasn't nearly as tired as I thought I would be. And to stay a little fresher, I opted to not really warmup for it since my motor was already running. I pedaled around the infield a little and at start time, headed to the staging area, and this turned out to be a mistake. Although I had pre ridden the course the night before, something seriously changed between the night before and the morning of... As started racing around the course, both front and back tires started feeling soft. I could feel them bottoming out on roots and other obstacles that the other night had felt fine. I thought I maybe had a flat, and contemplated pitting and switching bikes real quick but just kept on riding. Each sharp turn, I could feel either the front or the rear tire wanting to roll off the rim, and in hindsight, probably should have swapped rides but I just love my new Cannondale CAAD X so much that I didn't want to ride anything else. I ended up finishing 17th in a field of 20 (and I beat Gerry Pflug because he had a mechanical but I am 1-0 against him this season).

Immediately following the Master's 40+ race was the Mens 3/4 race. I had just enough time to check my tires and reinflate them to 45/55psi. Yeah, I know that seams very high, but I'm a big boy (228#'s the morning of the race) and I feel like I ride "heavy". Some people seem to glide along when they ride... Watch Gunnar Shogren, Jerry Pflug, and of course Steevo Cummings. When they ride, they seem to float along with their wheels barely touching the ground. I on the other hand feel like every pedal stroke pushes the bike deeper into the surface rather than further along. Roots that they'd skip over, I seem to have to plow through.   Once I got my Cannondale's tires pumped up, I ran to the pit and checked the tires on my pit bike and spare set of wheels. I went back and ate a pack of Honey Stinger Energy Chews and washed it down with a bottle of water and headed back over to the staging area. I wasn't going to take my call up because I had already done 2 races and was feeling tired but seeing my other two teammates up on the line, I thought it might just make for a great photo for Fred Jordan. When the  race started I immediately knew that I had made a poor decision to start up front and quickly made my way to the outside of the first turn and let as many go by as could. The rest of the field was just going to have to make their way past me as the opportunity presented itself and wish that they had pre-registered. Finally everyone got around me and as everyone started settling into their groove, I started catching riders who went out a little harder than they should have. I eventually caught up to Rick Plowman and we were being heckled about not still being on the tandem together. I finally found enough gas to get around him and kept finding riders to pass.  All told I caught 7 of the riders who had passed me early on and I ended up 28th out of 35.

I was completely spent but I was as happy as I've ever been at a race. The whole day was great and I got to spend it with great friends, great teammates, and a couple of very special fans. I can't wait to repeat the whole thing on the 20th at the APCXS #2 Military Cross