9.22.2009

RACE REPORT: 2009 Charm City Cyclocross Event

last weekend was the Charm City Cyclocross Event as presented by C3 (Charm City Cycling)
here it is Friday a number of days have passed since that day's event, but I will try to dredge up a few memories of that day as I start to turn my attention to this weekend's cyclocross event
in the classic Gwadzilla Style this post is tucked and hidden
written more for me than for you

the usual pattern is to stop thinking about the weekend past by Wednesday
then come Wednesday start looking forward
I started writing this on Wednesday... but did not find time to focus back on it until now... Friday morning

this has been an odd year on the bike
at the start of the mountain bike season I had the intention to try and focus on racing at events/venues that were not within my usual routine
there were some West Virginia events that I was considering
as well as getting back to some old favorites like the Hoo Ha!
the winter was good... I was feeling strong on the bike... I started out with an attack on the Baker's Dozen multi-lap relay race on a three man squad with Cargo Mike and Thomas MacKay

this race did not go as planned
I raced on an unfamiliar squishy bike and put in less than dynamic lap times
my race times were solid... but I think I could have hammered harder on my rigid single speed than I rode on my unfamiliar geared Rip Nine
on my second or third lap I crashed for no particular reason
I got and banged my body up pretty good
when my body hit the ground I felt like I had run head on into a Mac Truck
there was injury to my neck and ribs that had me off the bike and in physical therapy for a few months
there was time off the bike
there were many races that passed without my participation

this put me behind in my fitness
racing is training
racing motivates me to ride
racing also acts as training

so the season passed and I missed some key events that are usually on my race calendar
no Greenbrier Challenge... no 24 Hours of Big Bear... and no Shenandoah Mountain 100
not even one single Cranky Monkey!

the summer had me focused more on family than the bike
there were weekend trips to Chicago and Pittsburgh
as well as a nice day mountain adventure in Colorado
life and work detracted from the bike
my commutes were shorter than normal
my post work rides were infrequent

racing is training... I had not been racing
not only is racing training... but racing is the motivation to train
I had not been riding
which had me wondering how my body would feel in a cyclocross race

RACE REPORT: 2009 Charm City Cyclocross Event

while on that family trip to Chicago my faster and fitter brother asked if he could use my laptop with Verizon Aircard to register for Charm City... since I was logged on and connected I decided I would register as well
the Wednesday before is usually my version of pre-registration
registering the day of has often been my style
this year I thought I would take advantage of the pre-registration line up

come Sunday morning race day the early registration had me lining on the third row with the 35+ Master Bs
I was heavily caffeinated and excited to be on the bike
the Specialized Tri Cross had been tinkered with the week prior
a sick and sweet race level bike that had been out of action for two years was back front and center in the queue
mountain bike riser bars were put in place of the classic road drops and after market Empella brakes were in place of the stock Shimano brakes

it was exciting to be in Druid Hill Park
the race site had some back to school excitement
everyone was filled with butterflies

I arrived a little later than expected
there was just enough time to register, suit up, and take one mellow pre-ride lap before taking my place on the line
my number told me which line to take

at the release I did not have a good or a bad start
I started the race and tried to flow with the pack
no one bobbled in front of me
no one got tangled
I managed to get the bike on the grass in a solid position... pretty much my starting position

it was my intention to finish where I started...
I knew that there would be some racers who would pass me
I would try to make sure that I passed some racers back

at the start of the race I tried to fuel my body with some nasal breathing
the intense effort had me racing like a mouth breather with a soundtrack like everyone's favorite Star Wars villain... Darth Vader
it amused me that the cluster of cyclists around me were all a foot shorter than me and 50-75 pounds lighter

the first lap's start involved a prologue loop that seemed to alleviate the first lap bottle neck pile up that I had experiences at Charm City some years prior
my one lap slow pre-ride had revealed that there were very few surprises on the course
as I made this lap around the course I tried to learn the lines
trying to avoid roots and rocks that could cause a pinch flat
trying to avoid divots and potholes that could cause an endo
trying to take the line that could let me corner fast
trying to race the course rather than just ride the course

on each transition from the pavement to the grass at the start of each new lap I did an ugly little bunny hop


the laps counted down and my body seemed to be maintaining pretty well
I had no concept of the time that had passed
only the marker at the start finish could tell me how many laps remained
onto the grass with three laps to go I my spidey senses started to tingle
I scanned the area around me
then I saw it... my wife walking away from the course
she was on the phone and appeared to be upset

still racing I tried to piece together her situation
I tried to guess at what was happening
around her I saw once child... not two
I shouted out, "where's Grant?" "is everything okay?"

in a winded tear filled voice Lisa yelled back... "everything is fine... I got it... keep racing"
there was definitely some panic to the tone of her shaky voice
I thought about what could have happened to my five year old son Grant
various worst case scenarios raced through my head; injury on the monkey bars... alien abduction... or maybe he wandered off

more than likely he had wandered off

my focus was lost... I worked the course scanning the area looking for my blond haired blue eyed son
when ever I saw a familiar face on the sidelines I shouted out an unintelligible request to get to the loud speaker announcer and send out a message about my lost child
my eyes looked at the trail side rather than the trail
I scanned at three and a half feet high trying to find my son
trying to remember what shirt he was wearing in an effort to make a positive ID

in my mind panic grew
I started to think about how my time should be spent
part of me wondered if my pre-race hug was the last time I was to hold my child
although I know that child abduction is more of a paranoid fantasy than a reality... it does happen
roughly 115 kids are abducted a year
versus the 250,000 that are injured or killed in auto accidents

I tried to be rational
we have all been that kid lost in the super market
I tried to be rational
this is not the first time a child has wandered off from their parent at an event like this

nearing the finish of that lap I saw him... there he was!
MY BUDDY GRANT!
Grant was looking a little lost... but in the hands of two women who appeared to be looking for the parents of a lost child
I yelled something to Grant and the two women... none of them heard me
two turns later and I saw my wife Lisa... I screamed out and pointed back to the basic area where she would find Grant
then returned my focus to the race
Lisa heard me and headed in the direction of our son

it is hard to say how many slots were lost on that lap
more than anything the racers in front of me were able to pull further ahead
while I think I may have drifted back thus allowing trailing racers to reel me in

my body felt pretty good
with just a few laps to go I could tell that I was dropping some intensity
relaxing at some points instead of attacking
resting instead of pedaling
it was important that I get back in the game

I reached for my flask of GATOR-RAGE!
a Gatorade/Red Bull fusion
my throat was dry... and my system needed a kick

while trying to regain focus I noticed something... my seat had slipped
that is a rookie mistake
a mistake that I have been making since I was a cycling rookie so many years ago

with my seat inches below where it should be my legs burned not from extended effort but from an awkward lack of leg extension

with no time to worry about this I had to focus on the finish
there were cyclists around me
there were cyclists behind me
and of course...
there were of course cyclists in front of me


I tried to focus on the cyclists in front of me which would aid in keeping the cyclists behind me behind me
the body was feeling the effort of the day
I tried to reel in those in front of me
my guess... they were trying to reel in those in front of them

I looked at the course and thought about where I could attack
then I thought about smart racing
wanted to ride it hard and fast
but had to play it conservative
I did not want to crash and lose ten slots in an effort to gain one

I was depleted... instead of hammering on rails
I was snailing on the trail
knowing that there was not much left in the race I dug deep and attacked the final sections

out of the saddle pushing it hard I attacked the three foot tall barriers and 180 loop around the old oak tree
tried to remount fast and smooth
back on the bike
tired I coasted down the hill then tried to attack back up the hill
attacked the next set of barriers at speed

a flurry of energy came to my body as I could feel I was nearing the finish

at the tail end of the last lap I hit the asphalt climb
the bike in front of me was out of rational reach
I hammered... he hammered as well
on the flat with the finish in sight he looked back to see if he needed to push it harder
I was no threat so he coasted in
I glanced behind me in the same fashion and there was no one involved in a close chase so I coasted across the line as well

it was a good effort for the day
when the posted the top twenty finishers I was nothing short of stoked to finish 18th
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED
I finished roughly where I started
the MAC races are packed thick with talent

it was a good day on the bike
a solid effort with a solid finish
I felt good

I did nothing to cool down
just past the finish I saw my family and went to them
exhausted I dropped the bike and practically collapsed on the ground
five year old Grant jumped on me
it was good to be reunited with my family
it felt especially good to have my son Grant in my arms

I had a fatherly talk with the Dean and Grant about what had happened
about the proper thing to do when you can not find mom or you can't find dad

after that discussion I took my bike back to the car and walked back with the boy's bikes
the time that followed involved connecting with friends, cheering on racers, snapping photos of racers on the course, and trying to get my boys involved in the lil Belgians event

the boys each pre-rode the kid's course 20 times
but neither of them wanted to race
Dean was suffering some soreness in his arm that sent me to the ER later that week
and Grant... well... I was not looking to make him do something he did not want to do
and I was ready to head home

it was a good start to the season
I look forward to doing a few more cyclocross races
as well as getting out on the mountain bike




1 comment:

Manicmtbr said...

Glad to hear Grant was there, closeby. Really good result too!