9.29.2008

I think that is enough images of the Men's Masters Elite at NCVC's Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Race at Lily Pons

I think that is enough images of the Men's Masters Elite at NCVC's Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Race at Lily Pons from this weekend past

yesterday morning I ran into Kevin Dillard
for selfish reasons I asked why Kevin of Demoncats/Velo Photos was not at the Lily Pons Cyclocross Race the weekend prior

Kevin had raced in Pennsylvania on Saturday so racing Sunday was not part of his plan
it was at the race in Pennsylvania where Kevin took his photos

which does not do me any good as I raced in Maryland on Sunday not Pennsylvania on Saturday
I am only interested in photos of myself


as it seems there are no photos of me riding/racing at Lily Pons
this weekend past

I just like you want to see images of myself on my bike

not just any image... but an image that will make me appear cool
not an easy photo to capture I guess no on was up for the challenge

RACE REPORT: 2008 NCVC's Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Event

As this is a memorial event it is known that the man Ed Sanders for whom this race is named di
ed in a cycling training accident. Yet it is not known to everyone how he died. When told of his death I made what I thought was a logical leap and filled in the blank as to what happened. Training accident? I figured it was a standard bicycle related accident... maybe a heart attack or maybe a bicycle crash that involved a car, a truck, or a curb, but no... the details of this accident are a little more bizarre. It is one of those cases where the truth is stranger than fiction. The actions that ended Ed Sander's life are more like words from the script of a Quinton Tarrintino film that the pages of Velo News. Without getting too graphic I will try to relay things as they were told to me. Ed Sanders died in a training accident within his home. Ed was on his rollers in the living room. Somehow Ed slipped from his rollers and slammed onto a glass table... shattering the glass and cutting himself. The cuts were so bad that he could not get to the phone and he bled to death. This is a tragedy that ended a man's life way to soon... leaving his only son fatherless. Proceeds from the Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross race go towards a college fund for Ed Sander's only son. The event and the story dance well together to aid in our reflection that life is short and that life should be lived to the fullest and that life should be appreciated as something precious. The memory of Ed Sanders lives on in this spectacular event hosted by the team that he raced with at the place where he worked. On Sunday I lined up with the Men's Master 35+. It was a smaller than anticipated field. Perhaps the three days of rain leading up to the event scared some racers away.

The smaller class sizes are fine... the classes can get too big... absurdly big.


The drive out acted as a bit of foreshadowing of the action of the first lap on this very muddy course. On the drive out Interstate 270 from downtown Washington I encountered the usual assortment of assholes. A number of obnoxious drivers did that very strange pass where they pass and then fade into the lane in front of me. Their fading into the lane in front of me not only caused me to slow down but also kicked moisture from the road up into my windshield. This action repeated itself over the course of the first lap many times... often by the same people. I am not sure how long into the race I decided to remove my mud caked glasses only to accept the occasional speck of dirt to the iris or pupil. It was dirt through the eyes or trying to catch a glimpse of the action through a brown shield of mud that coated my amber riding lenses.

The course was wet and muddy and racers were all ov
er the place. It amazes me that no one forced anyone into one of the many ponds that the course circles. I have heard that this has happened before but I have yet to witness it.

Just as riding on sloppy ground is a skill so is riding in the pack. I have yet to learn how to ride in the pack. For some reason I have no issue making the fast pass on single track while on the cross bike I am a tad timid. Not only am I timid but I have yet to adopt the road cyclists method of pass... which is to pass the rider in front of you then quickly fade into their space before completing the pass, thus forcing that rider to slow down and then you slow down yourself... causing the following rider to brake even more. Somehow that just does not seem sporting... it is as obnoxious on the bike as it is on the car... if not more. Sometimes I think road cyclists are just car drivers on bikes.

I got a fairly decent start. A decent start being any start where I do not get stuck behind a crash, a slow moving cluster, or a trail imposed bottleneck. Things moved pretty cleanly off the line. The prologue loop on this course does well to feed the racers onto the course. By the end of the first lap things had spread out and I was not being cut off by as many squirrelly riders... because those squirrelly riders may not have been able to handle the sloppy turns, but they were able to hammer ahead on the flats.

Lined up with the Men's Masters B I knew that my race was going to be a race within the race as racing to be the first acoss the line is beyond my scope. A solid start kept me within sight of two of my DCMTB team mates; Mark Drajem and Raul Rojas. Both Mark and Raul have been attacking things strong at cyclocross practice so I knew that it would be a fight for me to hang in their shadows.

Having not preridden the course I was in a LEARN BY DOING situation. I was
able to learn what I was able to ride and what I would have to run pretty early in the game. I tried to focus on smart racing. But... as things happen in cyclocross I fell back to my default settings.... a long list of efforts filled with bad habits. I clearly had not practiced my cross tactics enough to allow the proper techniques to become my second nature. My dismount/remounts were as sloppy as the ground at my feet. And my ability to corner fast... well... it is hard to know how fast you can corner before the bike slips out from under you without letting the bicycle slip out from under you and well... I was not looking to have the bike slip out from under me. I was certainly too heavy on the brakes leading into the turns and slow to accelerate out of them. As much as I know I need to go into the turn fast and accelerate out of the turn I snailed through the turns and snailed out. Usually by the last lap I have grown comfortable with the bike and the course that I am able to relax and let the bike flow... but not on this day.

There were flat sections of mud that I attacked on foot rather than slogging throu
gh in the saddle and I did not attempt to ride that steep run up on the back nine. When approaching the deep puddles I let the puddles work as a natural bike wash. The grass and mud were caking on the bike pretty good. The after market Empella cyclocross brakes have far greater clearance than the stock Avids that came on my Jamis Nova cyclocross bike, but there was still enough grass and mud to build up and slow the wheels and hamper braking. These issues were not limited to me... everyone was racing on the same course in the same conditions. My limits were set by my lack of training and my lack of practice.

My energy level was good through out the race. On one of my early laps when I cleared the barriers I saw a Hammer Gel flask on the ground. It was my mini-water bottle filled with a mix of Gatorade and Red Bull; aka GATOR-RAGE. I knew I would be needing in my later laps... so I turned around and picked it up. Thinking that seconds lost on retrieving this flask would be better than the dry mouth and fatigue that I would suffer if I did not have this fluid on my person at the tail end of the race. I am always in need of a little boost in the later laps. Caffiene or sugar can often save the day.

The race within the race kept me motivated. I had some good cat and mouse with the racers around me. As much as I wanted to chase the riders in front of me it was clear that they were attacking at the same point where I attacked and they were working just as hard to catch the racers in front of them. I guess I shoul
d be happy that my pace did not drop and that I was not passed by too many of the racers behind me. Drajem fell back. Later I learned that he pulled over to clean his bike. Then ahead of me Raul pulled ahead so that he could wash his bike after the finish without a long line.

I rolled across the finish line feeling pretty good about my efforts.

After my race I exchanged stories with friends and fellow racers then after washing the bike and slamming a
cheese burger and a hot dog. Then I pulled out the camera and snapped some shots of the Men's Master Elite. As much as I wanted to ring the cowbell and cheer for my friends and heros racing in the Elite Category I knew that my time would be better served hanging with my family at home.

Lisa was at home with the boys. By the time we made cell contact it did not seem rational for them to rush up for the kids race... although the boys and I had been looking forward to the lil' Belgians race on this day there was not enough time for them to drive up race and then go to Dean's baseball game.

When I returned home there was time to put my bike in the basement and my sweat and mud soaked gear in the washer. When the family got back from the afternoon game I entertained the boys with a trip to the New Target in Columbia Heights. Rather than ride along side of them I walked/ran. It makes more sense than riding since four year old grant still has some moments of frustration riding without training wheels. He still needs the occassional push on the slight grade up hill and he does not brake such that I am confident letting him scream down the little hills.

as Ice Cube would say... It was a good day.

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