Monday, September 28, 2009

Race Report: Green Mountain Cyclocross Weekend Verge 2008 Cat 3









All photos are courtesy of my lovely wife over at Pedal Power Photography.


Saturday's race saw sunny and warm weather and a dry grassy course. Sunday was misty and damp, with course conditions deteriorating quickly.

I got to the starting line of Saturday's race feeling amped. I was rested and ready. I had a good deep warm up. I was quite nervous since I felt confident that I would earn a respectable result.

I had a lofty goal for the 2009 season: beat my friend Rosey in any fair race (no mishaps or mechanicals). I have never been able best him in any cyclocross race. Every time that I have tried, I have crashed or ended up blown apart and limping in for the last few laps.

Rosey got the hole shot. He was 15 seconds ahead of me within the first 30 seconds of racing. I was in OK position after the first climb and the initial corner. Perhaps 20th. I raced smart and remained within my abilities. I have been finding that it is better for me to burn matches to remain near the front of the race in the first lap, but not to try to lead the race. My new riding cyclocross style is to settle in and reel riders in over the course instead of killing myself to ride top 10 only to detonate and slide back.

Most of my first lap was uneventful. Little shoving and jostling. Almost no words exchanged. I made a few passes. Corey Lowe came blowing by me about midway through the lap. I briefly considered getting on his wheel, since he usually finishes a few places ahead of me, but he was pushing a pace that would have left me destroyed.

There was a slight divot or gutter in the corner leading into the barriers. Going into the barriers I was about 10th. I unclipped and tried to ride into the barriers standing on my pedal. I was coming in too hot and the gutter jostled my bike into a skid; I immediately went down. I was able to get up quickly, run the barriers, and remount as if nothing had happened, but when I remounted, my chain was derailed, which required me to dismount awkwardly and put it back on. I slipped a few places and lost about 30 seconds.

Angered, I rode fast. I passed people in corners while they rode their squealing brakes. The sound of grass ripping accompanied me as I chucked my pedals as I pedalled through sweeping corners.




When I got to the the runup/rideup, my competitor's were running feebly. After mountain biking for the entire summer, I was easily able to ride over the three logs that prevented road cyclists from riding this section. Every time that I crested the top of this climb, I took back a little time on the people ahead of me or further shut the door on the people behind.




The rest of my race was fairly standard. I suffered. I put in efforts to catch riders ahead of me. I wanted to drop out. I prayed for the bell every time that I came through the start finish.

I made it a point to dose my efforts in the parts of the course where it would yield me the most speed. For instance, instead of blowing my wad on the climb leading into the rideup only to scrub all that speed on the off camber 90 degree turn going into it. I eased back a little shifted into the appropriate climbing/clambering gear and put in a huge burst over the logs.






In the last two laps, I reeled in a lots of riders. All through the race, my teammates had been calling out my position on the road to me when I crested the 3 log ride up. Steadily I went from 17th to 15th to 13th to 11th to solidly inside the top ten. I reeled in Rosey. I didn't say anything as I passed him. He looked hurt.





Taking the hole shot often does not pay.

I also reeled in Mike Wissell of Back Bay. At the Hodges Village Dam MTB race this summer, my A race of the mtb season, he put over 5 minutes into me (I rode a good race too!). So passing Wissell was a highlight of Saturday (and Sunday's) race.




I finished 7th. My good friend Cary





podiumed and Rosey hung on for 10th. The wife was on the podium in her race. My 2009 nemesis/friend Sebastien Dumont bested me with a 5th place result.

On another note, cat 3's who finished near the back of the race were prematurely pulled. The Verge organizers have decided to run the junior's race at the same time as the cat 3's, giving the juniors a 2 minute head start. When the juniors were "lapping" slower cat 3's, the officials were pulling the cat 3's so that the juniors could have a "clean" finish. While I don't begrudge the junior's their race, it is unfair to curtail the race of someone who has paid good money to race because they have been caught by another field that started minutes ahead of them.

I know that many cat 3's were quite upset that they were pulled. From a solid source, I heard that these disgruntled riders vented their rage on unrepentant sandbagger, Brian Wilichoski by booing him and yelling insults as he crossed the line in first place.

Furthermore, I caught junior riders all through my race, as did the leaders of my race. I had to negotiate passing them, as did the leaders. The juniors were polite and made room, but nonetheless, they were on the course at the same time that I was. The presence of these juniors could have also interfered with our finish, but no one (me included) would suggest pulling them of the course.

Sorry for my digression. Day one was a success. I felt that I rode well. Obviously, I am upset about my crash and the fact that I lost 30-45 seconds to it, but overall, the race went well and yielded a better result than I would have predicted for myself beforehand.

Check back for photos and a race report from day two.

22 comments:

Cary said...

That report just made my lunchbreak. See you on the front row at G-Star!

nick said...

Wow. 35 upgrade points on Wilichoski. And he's still planning to race Gstar as a 3. That is unbelievable.

Adam Myerson said...

Apparently the tweaked the gap to just 1 minute on Sunday, and with the longer course, I was told it went much better. (Even if the course was too long, otherwise.)

Christine said...

Nice job catching Wissell--he is solid.

The same problem with the 15-18 juniors happened to the back half of the 3/4 women at Gloucester last year... very irritating. It screwed up the lap counts to the extent that a lot of us didn't get a bell for the final lap. Sucks that it's happening to the 3s now as well.

Colin R said...

just about the only benefit of a 9-10 minute lap is that you can easily run two fields on it...

RMM said...

Adam:

There appears to be some tension between squeezing in all of the races and also giving every racer their money's worth.

I would expect that next year, some of the cat 3's who were pulled on Saturday will reconsider their decision to pay the considerable race fee, fuel costs, lodging ancillary expenses associated with racing so far from home.

In fact, I know of one long time cat 3 who will not be racing anymore Verge races partially because of being prematurely pulled on Saturday. This racer may even abandon races that he is already registered for!

But to address your comment, I did not hear any grumbling on Sunday.

CMooney said...

Cant a man enjoy some 'Ws' w/o being labelled a sandbagger? He hasn't done that many races as a 3. Let him ride the high for a bit. Booing in an amateur race....SAD!

Anonymous said...

2008? It seems like only this past weekend.

I'll bet some cash money, cmooney is not a cat 3.

Unfortunately, sandbagging is self-policed because the officials choose to only guilt you into taking your sticker. I think that a little name calling now will ensure that Wilichoski upgrades before the end of the season.

Like it or not- Heckling is part of the sport.

RMM said...

Wilichoski has won 8 out of 11 lower category races that he entered.
You make the judgment.
If the officials are unwilling to force an upgrade, then the masses have a right to police themselves by booing and heckling.
Personally, I prefer face to face confrontation, since it seems less underhanded.

Anonymous said...

you guys really need to relax with the sandbagging crap.
wilichoski deserves to race the series as a 3.He has only won 2 races so far this season and remember it is a SERIES!
if you look at the results the other guys on the podium are less than a minute back...he is really not destroying everyone. pissing and moaning about it does nothing but make you guys look bad, and booing people is really really lame. don't forget that is a amateur race and you are all there for fun.

unfortunately all the 3's that are heckling guys to upgrade have never raced in a "uci elite" field before. so what you don't understand is there is a HUGE difference from being able to win a B race and the next level.
my guess is he would maybe get pulled in some elite races....which is the exact thing you guys are upset about in the 3's.
there will always be guys faster than you...just have some class about it, they will move on.

i have a question for you.....timmerman won both days in elite's this weekend. so is he a sandbagger if he races more verge races instead of heading to europe to exclusively race world cups/super prestige?????

RMM said...

Anons:

First off, if you want people to take you seriously, use your name when you comment.

Secondly, Wilichoski has won more than 2 races. He has won 8 out of 12 non-elite races entered. Only two of them were 2009 Verge Series races.

Thirdly, BW can do whatever he likes. But so can the rest of the field. If we choose to ask him to respect the spirit of good sportsmanship and upgrade, that's our business. If you object to our doing so, that is your prerogative.

Fourthly, I did not advocate heckling him, I merely pointed out that it happened. Though I don't hold it against the hecklers.

Fifth, If you knew anything about me, you'd know that I prefer to say things to people in person, which I have done with BW. Now that he knows how I feel, I will leave him alone and just race my bicycle. In fact, I will probably approach him with genuine good will and a handshake when he choses to upgrade.

Sixth, I may or may not discuss his results on my blog. Since it is my blog...that's my decision.

Anonymous said...

well my post was not an attack on you, so relax.
although i am so routing for you to do well in a couple "B" races, then we can see you put your money where your mouth is and buy a uci license and move up.

oops almost forgot again..
dylan

Anonymous said...

by the way....you didn't answer my last question in the original post?

RMM said...

Dylan:

If my results warrant an upgrade to cat 2, I'll proudly upgrade.

While I may do well in some "B" races, I don't have it in me to dominate the way that riders like you, Tosca and Wilichoski are able to (take it as the compliment that it is, you guys are good at racing cross).

I just don't have that kind of fitness (I'm 37 years old and smoked over a pack a day for over 15 years) and my skills are already leveraged to the max.

Though if I needed to upgrade, I imagine that I would chose to use the Verge races as training while focusing on getting good results in the smaller races.

Btw, good race Saturday, I was cheering for you.

Colin R said...

and remember it is a SERIES! .

god, why do people get so friggin retarded when something is a series. if a road pro with a cat 3 cx license won the first race, should he not upgrade because it's a seeeeeries??

I know of one long time cat 3 who will not be racing anymore Verge races partially because of being prematurely pulled on Saturday.

This sounds like the type of thing someone would say just after getting pulled unexpected. I can't imagine really following through with it.

Ok, so now we know that the stakes for being 5 mins behind Brian is that you may get lapped by the lead junior and be done 1 lap earlier. Does that really ruin your racing experience so much you'd not race?

IMO, danger of getting lapped is a totally valid race within the race. If anything, it adds a lot more urgency to the race for the bottom third of the field, right?

While I personally think that juniors don't fit well with Cat 3's just because of raw numbers, it's hardly the end of the world.

RMM said...

Colin:

I actually think that this cat 3 will follow through on not racing anymore (he told me this on Monday afternoon). If I doubted his seriousness, I wouldn't have written it.

If you ask me offline who it is I'll tell you.

RMM said...

Colin:

"If anything, it adds a lot more urgency to the race for the bottom third of the field, right?"

Actually it was more like 2/3's of the field.

Seriously some of these guys are not all that slow.

Colin R said...

RMM: Right, Satuday's situation with half the field getting lapped was bad. But going forward, with a 1 min gap, I would think it will be closer to 1/3rd.

I maintain that the important detail is that everyone in the Cat 3 race knows what will happen if they get passed by a junior. I have no idea if that was communicated effectively on the start line in Vermont, hopefully it will be in Gloucester.

Anonymous said...

michael,
please don't feel like im attacking you or your opinion.
i can certainly see your perspective...but i can understand the other side as well.
it is not an easy jump to elite's and intimidating as well. often extremely fast progression can quite often ruin racing for some people...the ability to know how to win builds confidence,i believe that this sport is as much mental as physical, and that confidence is needed for a smoother transition.
i personally think he should be able to finish the verge series....should he be doing 3/4 at local races...absolutely not!

looking at the results, there a lot of guys that are not really that far off pace with him...yourself included. a few guys are only 30 seconds or so back. it's the first race of the year give it some time and lots of guys will start going better once they get some hard racing in the legs.
you had a good race on saturday...you can be there, as well as many other guys.
he may have a history of "sandbagging" but this will be a different field for him (harder). i just think guys need to relax a bit and see how it plays out before they start booing and name calling.
i would personally use him as motivation to train harder and race my ass off to beat him.
it's all for fun...no money on the line there.

anyway sooner or later he will have to upgrade and you can rest assured you'll get the last laugh.

thanks for cheering for me too...much appreciated!

p.s. YES colin....it is a series.
NO colin...your tubulars are not better than my michelin mud clinchers...and you are way fatter than me.

dylan

RMM said...

Colin and Dylan:

I see both sides of the "series" argument. If you have points in a series, it becomes more difficult (mentally) to upgrade.

The case of BW is illustrative in that his results are so extreme. When you check his crossresults.com he has no nemeses. None. Even Sven Nys has nemeses.

If BW needs more wins to boost his confidence...he has deeper issues than a propensity toward sandbagging.

I am actually shocked that the officials have not forced an upgrade.

Eric Silva said...

The rule clearly states mandatory upgrade, doesn't it?

http://www.usacycling.org/news/user/story.php?id=2627

"10 points in 12 months (two wins is an automatic upgrade)"

As far as I can tell, Brian Wilichowski has at least 5 wins and 30 points in the past twelve months — as a category 3.

How much is enough?

RMM said...

Eric:

These sections of the USAC rule book appears to be a guide by which officials should evaluate upgrade requests.

Apparently it does not mean that officials should be activist about upgrading people.

My advice is that everyone who is upset about this, or any other situation, send a polite and well worded email to Diane Fortini explaining your frustration with the situation.