Sunday, October 30, 2011

Finally Some Real Cyclocross Racing!

SCX pulled together something pretty special today at Enumclaw Fairgrounds. Great venue, great course design and finally some co-operative weather! So how do you know when it's been a good CX race?

You know it's been a good CX race when :-

  • The inside of your kit is as muddy as the outside by the end.

  • Your mechanic works harder during the race than the racers.

  • You go down a couple of times but still get back up.

  • There's free beer.

  • There's a guy in nothing but gold boxer shorts at the top of the run-up making completely inappropriate comments to all the passing girls (see above).

  • The run-up gives you vertigo at the top.

  • A solid 3rd place (with no sprint finish to worry about) puts you in 3rd overall in the series.

  • Even better, a teammate wins his first race of the season (way to go Sean!)

  • Clean up at the end takes longer than the race itself.

  • You seriously start to consider buying shares in Oxyclean when doing the laundry.

Did I mention this was a muddy one?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Drag Racing in Seattle

Keeping this short today as I need to recover for tomorrow's race. Yes, I have my feet up and ice on my neck in preparation, but my brain needs to recover too. Turns out I'm just not very smart......

Today's MFG#5 race was at Magnuson Park - an unforgiving flat power course with a lot of straight-a-ways making it a lot like a drag race. Or was that the costumes the racers had donned for Halloween? I'm easily confused....

Not a great 1st lap for me as I found myself wallowing in 8th place at one point. Didn't think it was going to be my day, but somehow managed to claw my way back through the pack and into 3rd place. Couple laps to go I was on the wheel of 2nd place gal and we had the lead gal in our sights. Maybe we'd catch her? A misplaced chain in the muddy section gave us our opportunity and we slid on past her. I pulled around into the lead and made my 1st mistake. Thinking we had another lap to go I wasn't fully cognizant of needing to go all out for a sprint finish. The other gal was and fully stomped on me leaving me for 2nd place. To be honest I don't think I could have out sprinted her anyway and she fully deserved the win. That wasn't my dumb move though. Because I sat up when I realized she was going to win I failed to observe just how close 3rd place had got to me. I was in fact oblivious until I checked the results - only 2 seconds ahead of 3rd place - now that's just not very smart! Need to rest my brain now for tomorrow........

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Merry-Go-Round at Marymoor

I wasn't thrilled at the thought of another Marymoor race, but it was MFG's turn to visit the park, so another  Mary-go-round it was to be. Course was set up with less tricky turns, but rain the previous few days made for a slicker encounter this time around. 

My race was pretty smooth, holding 2nd place pretty much the entire race. Lead gal was in my sights for a couple of laps but I just couldn't stay with her. 3rd place gal was close enough to put pressure on me the entire race, so I had to concentrate to not let up at any point. It helped to have a cheering squad to keep me focused in this mission! It certainly felt a ton better racing after being well enough to put in some descent training days this week - not such a shock to the system! Happy with my 2nd place finish which firms up my 2nd place overall in the series. Not so happy that my team mate Kristi broke her chain on the first lap  and spent the entire race chasing back on. It would have been good to have some company on those long straight-a-ways!

Couple of goals achieved this week - I treated every guy ahead of me as a target to pass rather than an impediment to my progress and I didn't fear the barriers every lap (just a couple.)

Really happy I didn't have to pit this week - I would have felt terrible getting help from Justin with his broken ribs. Turns out our mechanic can't hold his drink. And I mean that quite literally. Carrying his soon to be bottled home made hard cider down some steps he slipped and ended up in ER. And no, I don't think  the docs believed the alcoholic smell from his cider drenched clothes didn't have anything to do with the fall. And the worst part of it all was there was nothing left to drown his sorrows! Thanks for being there for us today Justin!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sandy Silver Lake

SCX stop #3 in Everett was a way more interesting course for the mountain bikers among us. Although I was pretty terrified of what the sandy section would hold for us each lap, I was pretty happy that we finally had a technically more challenging course.

My route through the sandy sections changed each lap, as either I didn't like how it felt the last time through or there was carnage in front of me which made me change my plan of attack. Even good bike handlers struggled though the really deep stuff, and only sheer leg power could really pull you through. I can honestly say I didn't find that ever elusive perfect line, I undoubtedly lost time there and it hurt each and every lap. The only positive thing I can say about my performance is that at least I didn't biff it and eat sand. Although riding the firmer packed line close to the lake was fast, getting down there and back up took its toll and ended up being slower. I did enjoy the brief reprieve of solid (ish) ground though!

Firmer ground, but longer route

I think I was in 5th coming out of the sand the first time, but made it up into 2nd place when some gals clashed and took each other down in a different sandy section. My team mate Kristi was battling it out for 3rd place when she realized if she continued hard she'd just pull 4th place gal up to me. She wasn't prepared to do that so let her pull around to fight on her own to catch me (thanks Kristi!) Good strategy for the team, but I just couldn't hold her off when she got a 2nd wind and took me middle of the way through the last lap - DAMN! 3rd place by 2 seconds - ouch! Kristi was only a few more seconds back and took 4th, so a very successful day for the team.

When places are split by seconds, one starts to think of all the little mistakes you make that lose those precious seconds. Apart from the obvious mistakes I made in the sandy sections, I just wasn't aggressive enough passing the guys that we have to work through. Not that they were deliberately blocking, but I just held back too long. To be worked on next week......

Thanks Team!

Monday, October 10, 2011


SCX race #2 at Fort Steilacoom and it was my turn to host the bugs that have been going around. Knew I was getting sick at the beginning of the week so was prepared to feel crappy during the race.  I was slow to start and I watched 6 gals shoot off in front of me. One of whom was my team mate Kristi, so I was happy for her to be finally where she belongs.  I knew I had no real high end capacity and it took me a few laps to warm up, but it turned out that my legs were still pretty strong and they made up for the shortfall in my lung capacity. I could grind up the short climbs and then recover on the fast descents.

I eventually caught up to Kristi, enjoyed a brief respite on her wheel, and hoped we could finally be in a position to work together. Alas it was not to be as Kristi was fading, but being the ever supportive team mate encouraged me to to keep going. She knew we weren't so far off the leaders and thought I stood a chance of catching them. I wasn't so savvy as to our relative position, so just took this as her just being positive and encouraging. Turns out I was only 20ish seconds back on 3rd place, and although I don't think I could have made up the gap, I certainly wasn't sucking as much as I thought I was, so was pretty happy with my 4th place finish.

Now for that struggle between resting to get well, but not losing fitness due to lack of training......

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Naughty in North Bend

Who could ask for more from a race backdrop than that of Mt. Si at the MFG #3?

Justin in the pits.

The course itself was pretty much the complete antithesis of mountainous though - alas, another flat power course. Didn't have great hopes of doing well on this course, but a naughty little treat from Shimano was in store today as the team got to ride some seriously sexy new DuraAce carbon tubular wheels, so things were looking substantially better. Just couldn't resist using them, so didn't take much convincing to break the rule of not trying anything new on race day. Grippy in the corners and easy to get up to speed, they couldn't have been more perfect for this course, because they propelled me to an unexpected 2nd place finish. Or maybe it was the 2nd Surge energy gel that I consumed before the race (with more caffeine than I'm used to in a month)? Or maybe it was improving my barriers? Or maybe it was the added incentive of having my mum watching me race? Who knows? What I do know is I may be a little addicted to at least one of those components now!

 Kristi & Mel Post Race.