Monday, December 8, 2008

NBX GP of Cross Verge Race 2/3--Saturday

Photo by Pedal Power Photography

I had been sick and burned out all week. I developed a cold this past Monday and have been feeling under the weather all week. I even chose to sit out our weekly training race this week. Winning at Sterling last Saturday both exhilarated me and also signaled the end of my season.
The NBX course snakes through some of the trails in Goddard Park in Warwick RI. The event was well organized and the courses well thought out. From easy parking (there were attendants), to effortless registration (sort of far from parking), well marshaled course, great, fast course, free Narragansett beer and good food vendors in the heated gazebo/beer garden, to quick posting of results and great view of the course, this was a great event. NBX deserves a big thank you for doing a great job.
As for my actual race, it went well considering that I had put in no training, had no goals for the race and felt horrible. I had told people all week that I was just going for a fun ride in RI, that I was going to have a Ritchie Tenenbaum-style meltdown like Yash had at Shedd Park. But once I started the rituals of donning the fleece skinsuit and applying the Mad Alchemy grease to my legs, I knew that I was going to race.
I was able to get in two inspection laps and a “hot” lap before my race. The course was buffed out, dry and fast, so I opted to ride my Edge 2-68 carbon tubulars. There were long straight grassy sections that favor power riders. Even the turns were mostly buffed out and required little braking. There were two long sand sections, neither of which I was able to ride, requiring long runs.
Despite my cold, I felt moderately fast, though I had little top-end speed. And a nagging headache worsened with every hard effort. The runs were energy sapping.
On starting line I was nervous about crashes. It was a fast pavement start, 200-300 straight away into a sweeping fast pavement hairpin, another 75 meter straight, then sweeping pavement U turn 50 meters straight into a sandpit ended with a sandy, unridable run up.

Photo by Pedal Power Photography

The start was unremarkable. I sprinted, but was not overly aggressive. I knew that this wasn’t my day, so I didn’t take risks. The sandpit was a disaster of riders trying to ride through with no hope of making it. They fell in piles of tangled bicycles and cursing riders. I opted to run from the getgo, dismounting while I had momentum and shouldering my bike. I was able to easily pick my way through the flailing hordes, but was forced to stand and wait while the riders ahead of me remounted after the runup.
I rode fairly well. I was able to overtake and pass a few riders, especially on a slight climb after the sand runup. There was a packed line of sand on the left and a loose section in the middle. About halfway up the rise the loose section gave way to a rooty section where the roots were only slightly raised, which discouraged most riders from switching to the right hand line. I was able to keep my power up after the run up and I would accelerate on before the rise. I took the left hand line through the packed sand then switched to the right as it gave way to hard pack. Out of the saddle, applying power, the roots weren’t noticeable.
I was able to power past riders on the run ups. Most racers seemed sapped from the sandpit. Instead of “resting” on the runups, I took the opportunity to break spirits, painfully digging in and attacking. Mid-race on the second runup I overtook a group that included Kyle Smith, David Chiu and Oscar Jimenez, all riders who challenge me in every race. I think that this was the first CX race where I even saw Oscar, let alone passed him in a race. I decisively powered up the run and accelerated in the big ring after smoothly remounting. I didn’t see any of them until after the finish.

Photo by Pedal Power Photography

After a few laps, I found myself about 5-10 seconds down on a 5-7 rider group that included James Morrison and Corey Masson. I made it my goal to catch and pass that group. In our training races, James has always been fast, in real races, I usually see him at the start and then at the finish. James has been recovering from a fairly serious rib injury, so I knew that this may be my only chance to best him, as he normally rides at a higher level than I have attained.
Maddeningly, the group dangled out in front of me. Whenever I put in an effort to catch them, they seemed to accelerate too. The upside was that I kept my pace up and no one overtook me while chasing.

The group kept shedding riders. Morrison successfully attacked the group and I passed the remnants one by one as they succumbed to overexertion.
In the final lap I ended up catching Corey Masson. I rode his wheel for the better part of the last lap. He kept the gas down and took corners well. The course favors a time trialist like Masson and he was exploiting his advantage. Since the course was not very technical, I knew that there was mare advantage for me to stay on his wheel than risk passing him and letting him rest in my slipstream.
We came into the final dirt section together. I dove into the final rooty, bumpy corner on the inside, knowing that the outside was the preferred line for most riders. We ended up side by side on the pavement, as I took a huge risk in taking the tighter line without braking while Masson was obliged to cut a wider turn at the same speed. I got out of the saddle and sprinted hard. Corey matched me. Foolishly, I was in the little ring and was obliged to upshift. The chain hesitated and Masson gained a wheel length. Once the chain engaged with the big gear, I was able to pull even and then ahead. I proudly won the sprint for 26th by a bike length.


pvb said...

While extremely photogenic in their own right, the sheer deepness of the EDGE wheels eclipse you in the photo. Is that why you ran/rocked/sported the traditional setup on day 2?

RMM said...

I was scared that the gnarly conditions on day two would harm my wheels since I wanted to run ridiculously low pressure (26 psi and 24 psi).
Also I was looking for an excuse to play off the high level of suckage that I expected and then delivered on day two.