Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Race Report(s): Northampton Cycle-Smart International cat 3 2009

As always the photos are courtesy of my lovely wife

I went in to NoHo feeling good. This was one of my "A" weekends, so I had built my training around being fit and rested for these races.

There were a number of goals for this season and most of them revolved around beating friends who have consistently bested my in the past. The list and results are as follows:

  1. Rosey-beaten at Green Mountain Cyclocross/VT Verge (and others)
  2. Yash--Green Mt.
  3. Sebastien Dumont--Results swing back and forth
  4. Cary Fridfich--New Gloucester--Both Days
  5. Colin Holmes Reuter--10/18/09 Wednesday Night SuperPrestige (obviously, this isn't a sanctioned event, but I take what I can get)
  6. PVB--10/18/09 SuperPrestige
  7. Colin Holmes Murphy--Never
As you can see, prior to this race weekend, I had accomplished most of my goals for the season, including podiuming in a Verge race (twice). But Murphy hung out there. Colin has been smoking me so badly that he doesn't even show up as a rival on my page.

The Racing--Day 1

I got there early, warmed up and thoroughly inspected the course. I was confident that I was going to put forth my best effort.

The race was relatively uneventful. It started fast, I was near the front and stayed there. Riders attacked and few got away. On the first or second lap, I found myself gaining on CHM.

I caught him on the run up and then rode his wheel for a few turns, hesitant to throw down the gauntlet with so many laps remaining.

Soon, it became obvious that I would travel faster if I took the initiative in the corners and handled the rooty sections with an unobstructed line.

I waited for Holmes to take a corner wide. I turned a tighter radius while carrying more speed. I accelerated before Holmes was able to. I got a gap.

Photo courtesy of Josh Garlich

Eventually, I saw Holmes and Rosey start working together a few seconds back. This scared me.

Sometime near the end of the race, I was riding with Evan Huff. God damn it. I have been beaten in the last lap of uncountable cross races by this dude. Usually by less then 3 seconds, sometimes 10ths of seconds. He is becoming my white whale. He bested me for the last paying spot, 5th to my 6th.

I held off Murphy. Sad though it is, this is currently the highlight of my season.

Overall a good day.

Day 2-

With Murphy bested and Cary in the Verge leader's jersey, my goals for the race should have been minimal. But during preride/inspection, I began to believe that it was my day. I got that nervous feeling that you get when you can taste victory. Anyone who has ever targeted an event and then been confident about their chances of a really good result knows the feeling I mean.

Again, I was in the top 10 in the prologue loop. The pace was super high. Attacks were coming thick even before we entered the first lap. It was my day. After Chris Laflamme had settled into the front of the lead group, setting a high pace, I attacked the straight away leading to the sandpit.

I entered the sandpit alone with a small gap. I had ridden into the pit "step through" style fully intending to dismount with momentum and run the sand instead of risking a crash and a first lap pileup. Others behind me rode the sand faster than I was able to dismount/run/remount. My attack was absorbed and answered within 30 seconds of my initiating it.

I was still in the lead group, but taking on water. I watched Huff, Laflamme and Murphy ride away from me, as if in slow motion. It wasn't dramatic, a gap just opened and grew. I could have slayed myself to stay with them...but I chose to stay back. It was still lap one and many matches were being burned. I figured that those dudes were racing like fools. They all ended on the podium.

The rest of my race was tame. I'd get in a group, ride wheels in the straights and get in front on the upper deck. I maintained position. The weight of the Verge leader's jersey had pulled Cary back. I could see him chasing on opposing sections. Again, Cary is no joke. He kept me honest in the corners, helped me keep the hammer down.

On the last lap, I was in a group with Mike Wissell, James Morrison, and a local named Jeremy, all solidly inside the top ten. On the upper deck, I gapped them by taking a good line through the roots.

I went super fast down the launch ramp and came into the S turn after the RR tracks too hot.

I made the first corner but my line made it impossible to negotiate the second. I tried to cut hard left to correct. I had a full speed crash. While my file treads gave way easily, I beleive that I would have crashed with any tires. The impact was loud enough that me and my bike slid so far that people started running over. Friends went to get my wife. Morrison asked me if I was OK as he passed, the tone of his voice implying that he believed that I wasn't.

I got up, pissed. I wasn't hurt. But I was pumped full of adrenaline and annoyed about loosing spots. I passed Wissell in the next set of corners and got on Jeremy's wheel. I attacked him, but he countered and wouldn't let me get the advantage. Jeremy rode me off his wheel and outsprinted me for 6th. Morrison was out of sight.

7th is a great result. But it wasn't my day. I have no scratches, cuts, bruises, or marks as a result of my last lap crash. Maybe it was my day.

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