Monday, September 17, 2012

... and we're back! '12 Cross Begins

Just like that I'm back in the saddle (literally) racing 'cross and smiling ear to ear.  Spring and summer went well, training felt pretty solid, weight is 8lbs below this time last year, new bike, but until you toe the line and get one (or two race) races under the belt it's hard to know if everything is working.

Received my new ride for the season on Wednesday; went with the Blue SL as I am a firm believer in if it ain't broke don't fix it.  This means I have loved every aspect of my 2009 Blue Norcross that I stuck with the same exact geometry and excellent product, but upp'ed it to the SL with Sram Force.  I simply love the feel and support I get from SRAM so was really glad Blue had that option.  Want to thank Britton at Volker Bicycles in KC for working with me and Blue to make this happen - I am a fan! Bummed I cannot support their Manions Cross races this weekend, but heading to USGP Madison instead.

This past weekend is the Missouri kickoff weekend race(s) for 'cross at Hermann with Jeff Yielding's Dogfish Hermann Cross.  It's always been a quality event and a good test to see how the fitness and mostly your bike driving skills progressed (as he likes a 'turny' kind of course). 

Ira, Nate, and I loaded up the 'race machine' and headed out Saturday mid-day.  We met up with Dale, Ryan, and TJ at the venue and settled in the afternoon.

So good to see familiar faces and chat with friends I hadn't seen in a while.  For the most part 'cross folks are so nice and fun (for the most part).

Nate, Dale, TJ, and Ryan were up first in the Cat 4 race and all looked pretty solid.  Was fun watching Nate 'experience' his first taste of 'cross race participation. 

I was up next in the Masters 45+ event and after a good prep and warm up it was time to toe the line.  Quality field had me concerned how it would turn out, but quickly any bits of doubt were gone as I felt really comfortable and in control during the race.  Had two mechanicals and one spill (driver error - me), but each time was calmly able to rejoin the front of the group relatively quick.  Typical Yielding course layout and after some swapping of paint in the end I was fortunate enough to have good legs in a two-up sprint to take the win (by a tires width).  Good racing for the front 3-4 of us.

Ira was up next in the Cat 3 field and after setting 2nd he double flatted (grabbed my pit bike) and finished 7th or 8th.  Bummer as he looked pretty good early on.

Although pre-registered, I skipped the Open race in lue of hoping to finish well the following day and hold on to the points leader's jersey.

Uneventful night at the Hermann Motel and Sunday morning the legs were talking to me... sigh, it was going to take a bit to loosen up.

While Dale and Ryan headed by home the night before, it was Nate and TJ lining up in the 4's.  Both rode really well and TJ ended up with the win.

They just kept going up...
Spung the legs out pretty well and before you know it I was on the line trying to defend the Source Endurance points lead.  Sunday's course was pretty much the same as Saturday with the notable addition of the 'going to the top of the stairs' - this was brutal and with the exception of Mt. Krumpit at Jingle Cross the hardest dismounted climb probably I've done in a 'cross race.  Most folks were not looking forward to this, but I typically do well the more time off the bike during races so I thought this was too my advantage.  The race went pretty close to the day before with five of us off the front keeping a decent pace (for the most part).  As the race progressed with each time up the stairs I felt more and more confident that I was in a good position to contend for the win.  On the last lap I upped the pace leading to the stairs (to ensure I had a clear path up) and by the top I had opened a significant lead and was able to keep the pressure on and gather my second win (and the points win for the weekend).  Also took the 'stair primes' both days racking up a little more swag to take home.

Crusty made it over the Sunday and he and Ira raced next in the 3's.  Ira washed out in the first lap rendering his bike unridable; frustrating weekend for him.  Crusty rode well and finished mid-pack.

With slightly frazzled legs I jumped in the Open race for a 30 minute bit of intensity and that's exactly what I got.  Pulled of after five or six laps (was 6th at the time) as my body was starting to fatigue and little errors were creeping up; didn't want to dump during the 'bonus' racing so packed it up and headed home.

Great two days with friends and racing.  Up next Dale and I are heading to Madison, WI for the USGP opener. 

Game Face

Think there were four dismounts per lap

Day 1 Podium
Day 2 Podium (and overall)