Friday, November 30, 2012

CYCLOCROSS…ABRA style




Well, cyclocross season is almost over with only one race to go for the 2012 season.  The season began at the warm and not-very-technical course at Kick-off Cross.  A move from Cat 4 last season to the Masters 40+ category this season may not have been as strategically smart as I had thought it would be before the season began.  There’s a reason for the Master’s category title.  It appears that many of the ‘old’ guys are some of the fastest racers using the mid-day category as a warm-up for the later Cat 3-4 and Cat 1-2-3 races.  Oh well, this would give me a chance to see how I’d do against some of these local and regional legends.  That kind of thinking was my first mistake…I didn’t get to see any of them after the call-ups.  You would think this class races only one lap as fast as they start.  My biggest motivation to ride fast from the end of the first lap on was to prevent being lapped by the leaders before the final bell ringing. 

An 11th place finish for the first race of the season in a super-fast category was suddenly an acceptable accomplishment for myself.  Congratulations to all of the other members of the Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder WV cycling team that finished on the podium that day---Mike V, Brian D., and Anne F…and Jeff G. for this top spot on the tandem.

The next race of the series would keep us in PA for Military Cross, a fast but more technical course with steep climbs and run-ups divided by fast power sections.  Throughout this year I have had more success in the mountain bike races.  Thus, I had expectations that this course would better suit my abilities.  It was fast and fun despite the cold and windy conditions.  And after a few laps chasing fellow Masters racer Bob Vernon again, I felt like I was getting faster through the turns and building more speed and power through the straights.   I would pick off another competitor through or just after the set of barriers on each lap.  A top ten finish may be in the works this week.  However, I would have to settle for a 15th finish.  Jeff and Jerry would gain podium spots this week in the tandem and Cat 3-4 categories, respectively.  Congratulations gentleman and other DPT p/b PWV teammates for stellar performances.

Marilla Cross, organized by Gary Rodosta and Mark Glass, was the third race of the series.   A fun, near Halloween, event on a very technical course that brings out the festival atmosphere of cyclocross with costume-attired racers and horn blowing, cowbell ringing, we’re-not-satisfied-with-your-efforts-until-you-crash-or-puke spectators.  Now we’re experiencing cyclocross the way it was meant to be experienced!

Battling the Run-up w/Bob
Once again, I’ll find myself in a race with Bob V, alternating places throughout the race.  I would lose time with poor off and on-the bike transitions at the infamous, spectator-crowded Hill of Death for the first two laps while picking slots between crashing racers and their bikes.  My near-masterful transition on the third lap would be done alone, with no spectators to witness.  I would eventually finish just out of the top ten again in 11th place.  In addition to racing, I got the chance to learn and experience a little about working the pit for Derek during the Cat 1-2-3 race as he would demonstrate pro-like transitions twice due to rear tire flats. 

A day or so after the Marilla race, Superstorm Sandy would cripple many areas of the eastern US, as well as any attempts or desire that I may have had at training to improve on the second half of the season.  She would eventually dump in excess of 18 inches of nice white snow at my house.  I figured I may not be able to ride, but I can break out the xc skis for a cardio workout.  However, as luck would have it , we experienced loss of electricity for eleven days due to trees collapsing power lines throughout Preston county.   Inside temperatures quickly plummeted to 47 degrees, and so did my desire to exercise knowing there would be no warm shower afterwards.   So, for nine of the eleven days, my workouts consisted of carrying five gallons of gasoline twenty feet from my truck to the generator once a day, and pull-starting a stubborn generator more times than I can remember each day.
Sandy at least gave us a couple weeks of winter
scenery like this one along my driveway.

So, the next race would stay in Morgantown for the two-day Monster Cross.  Maybe now I can ride again.   Nope… in all of the excitement of the superstorm, I had completely forgotten that I had to attend a continuing education course that same weekend to maintain my license. 

Finally, I was able to return to cyclocross action the following weekend at Bruceton Mills and again the following day at Raccoon Valley.  Out of shape and not too sure I remembered how to ride a bicycle, I struggled at Bruceton Mills for a 15th place finish.  And, although feeling better on the bike, I managed another 15th place finish, which places me in the overall series standings at 16th with one race to go. 

Dynamic Physical Therapy powered by Pathfinder WV cycling team has had an excellent showing this year with Jeff G. dominating the tandem races, and podium finishes for Mike V., Jerry A., JR, and Anne F.   Congratulations!

Thanks again to all of our sponsors that provide us the opportunities to race, keep us clothed, and maintain our machines throughout the year.