Sunday, October 24, 2010

Smith Farm CX; Kill Bill Vol.1

Going into Smith Farm I had two goals; top ten, and beat Bill Thompson.
Comparing our times from the previous week. it looked like we were fairly evenly matched. But he had raced a couple hours earlier than I had, so who knows how consistent the conditions were?
I had finished mid pack on Sunday against a pretty stacked field; technically no one was sandbagging, but there were some terribly talented riders in that field. Racing the Master's 45+, there still would be a depth of talent, but at least they'd be my own age.
The course started with a long straight away, that in most cases would leave me hanging off the back, but although we haven't been deluged with precipitation recently, the way the field we were racing in and the one across the street drain, it was pretty soggy.
We started 22 abreast and trudged down to the first hairpin. Thanks to the conditions and a fairly spinny gear, I got there in the top half.
After some zigzagging about we came out to a surprise set of barriers. I must correct a previous statement I made concerning the barriers; they are not 2x8s stacked two high, they are 1x10s stacked double, screwed to 2x4s, anchored into the ground with rebar. That makes them 18 fucking inches tall! And they are triples.
Following the barriers was what is becoming a Tobacco Valley staple; The Spiral of Death.
The Spiral of Death somehow winds in upon itself (forever), and at it's center, reverses course and somehow spits you out the other side. They put it in the dampest part of the field. I believe two things; 95% of the course was in the Spiral of Death, and Jim Thompson is a sadist.
Oh, but such a beautiful sadist!
The rest of the course was a bucolic jaunt through the orchard, interrupted by six more 1x10 walls.
Back to the spiral.
In the spiral things began to separate. Handling and power began to sort things out. My gear was pretty good, and I negotiated the turns pretty well, but watts is watts, and lets face it, I aints got alots.
Never the less, I was ahead of Bill the first lap.
But I wasn't ahead of Tom from Thule, or the guy with the sweet Sycip.
Then lap 2 happened.
As I catch the Sycip and Thule riders in the spiral, Bill catches me as we reach the back of the orchard. Thule Tom decides the Thompson Express is something he'd like to get in on, so he latches on and passes me.
The next couple of laps they dangle in front of me. I can pull them back a little on the hills (very little), but they keep on adding bits and pieces on the downhills.
I didn't see it, but going into the last set of barriers on the forth lap, Thule Tom crashed. That's where I caught him.
After that set of barriers, is the long drag down to the first corner. I put my head down and tried to spin my gear up as much as possible. Going into the zigzags alone, I had lots of room to stay on the power.
When you get to the Spiral of Death, you can see your chasers, and they see you. You try and stay on or find a solid line through the widening quagmire, trying not to misjudge the line and tangle yourself in the tape.
When I got to the second set of barriers, Todd Holland's son was cheering him on, "He's right there Dad, you can catch him!"
I don't like the sounds of that!
I'm trying to keep it going for the last part of the course; it really is quite lovely, except for the impending doom of Todd and Tom hunting me down.
I'm either catching lapped riders, or guys from the 3/4 race are pre-riding; getting caught behind or slowed by someone would not be good.
Getting to the last set of barriers, Todd's son again is shouting encouragement, "You can get him Dad"!
Fortunately he couldn't and I edge him out by a few seconds on the line.
Seventh place.
Bill is sixth.

Being a half full kind of guy, I'll say mission accomplished (by 50%).
I'll need to find at least 16 seconds for our next meeting.

I'm really beginning to warm up to this whole cyclocross thing, at least the little local races I've been doing. I can go race without wasting myself completely or devoting my entire day to racing. With a mountain bike race, even a local one, I'm devoting at least half the day to the event, and I'm usually completely useless for anything other than eating and being horizontal. Saturday, I raced, hung out to see friends race, and still got home and took my sons to lunch, looked at chickens and met Mr. Erik Jungk, aka Duck, and his lovely bride (who wasn't given a silly high school nickname by your truly) for some hoity toity cuisine.

As a bit of comic relief, on the first lap of the 3/4 race, a racer, before the second set of barriers, threw his glasses to a lady watching the race. He then began to shout instructions to her about what he wanted her to do with his specs. I guess he didn't realize how close he actually was to the barriers because he slammed into them full speed. Jim is quite the carpenter / engineer because the barrier didn't budge!
Other than his ego the rider was fine.

Turns out Smith Farm was my Mom's stop for apples back in the day, so I picked her up a bag of Macouns .

Surprising to me, I'm making up time on the barriers by driving in closer to them before dismounting than my competition. Now if I could only improve actually getting over them and remounting...

I think this whole cx thing will be a boon to mtbing. Even though my muscles are pretty tight today, I felt pretty strong on my ride this morning. My first actual mountain bike ride in about a month.

look! Cyclocross type debris actually hanging from my bike!


Jim said...

The barriers are exactly 40cm high (15.74in).
Go Fast ... JIM

CB2 said...

Duly noted.
Considering how well they are constructed I'm not surprised they are exactly regulation hieght.

tac_90 said...

Thanks for the great write up.
This was my first cross race and certainly not my last. I had a great time despite crashing 3x.
I am still alive and will be stronger than ever.
Tom (Thule) Chimenti