RACE REPORT: Charm City Cyclocross 2010

lots of photos from Charm City Cyclocross on my blog
then also on the GWADZILLA FACEBOOK page

RACE REPORT: Charm City Cyclocross 2010
a few months back I had the foresight to pre-register for Charm City Cyclocross
I registered for the race then it totally slipped my mind
riding and racing as a whole slipped from my priorities

there had been little riding other than my around town rides with my kids
mountain biking had not been an option because I was without a mountain bike
the squishy Niner Rip Nine was in need of some attention to the front fork after the West Virginia Mountain Bike State Championships
and my Jamis Exile Single Speed frame was broken when racing at the Cranky Monkey Race at Schaeffer Farms

there had been cross practices and cross clinics
I had only attended two DCMTB cross clinics... I spent more time with the camera than the bike
it was not until the DCMTB team meeting at The Family Bike Shop the Monday before the Charm City weekend did I realize when the race was being held

not having any other bike that rolled and stopped I had been doing a little bit of riding on the Specialized Tri Cross Comp with its mountain bike riser bars
I felt pretty okay about my fluidity on the barriers
while still having some question about the lack of braking power on my cantilever brakes
cornering on grass... well... I had not done any race pace rides on grass so that was going to be awkward

I knew I had to put all of these worries behind me and just show up and race
"it is all better on the bike"
even thinking about racing can give me anxiety
the anxiety can build until the race start itself

Charm City is held in a beautiful urban park in Baltimore, Maryland
in addition to the adult race they host a fun lil' Belgian's race as well
I opted out trying to bring the kids
bringing the family is often more than I can get my head around
especially when in a situation where I am already questioning my preparedness
August had been a fat month for me... plenty of over indulgence... on race day I arrived 8 pounds heavier than I am usually weighing in at this time of the year

with the kids still in bed I loaded up the car
with my third cup of coffee in hand I gave my wife a kiss and headed out the door
although I have raced this event a number of times I still had to follow the Map Quest directions to get there

my arrival was early enough to allow for registration, some social time, and a few laps on the course to sort things out
on one of my pre-ride laps I decided to zip up and say hey to Ryan of The Family Bike Shop
with a friendly "on your left" I made a pass that was free and clear of danger
going into the 180 degree turn I heard the racer behind me start barking... "you don't need to cause a crash on a pre-ride"
I tried to hold my tongue... but I had to be me
I barked back...

it seemed clear to me that I was being discriminated against because of my flat bars

a little more time warming up and socializing and I gathered with the Men's Masters B 35+
everyone was excited to get the race started
the officials began calling people up for race order
during the call up commotion I was saddened to see the officials snag the helmet camera from Bill Schieken of In the Cross Hairs
bummer... we love the films by Bill Schienken

anxiety swelled within me
the race start and the first lap itself can dictate the race
I tried to get my ill preparedness out of my head
it was too late for me to do anything about my weight and lack of training
my focus was on breathing and relaxing and having a solid start

in the third or fourth row I felt pretty good about my starting position
there were a number of strong cyclists around me
at two minutes we were told that we would get a thirty second count down and to expect the start at any moment after that
I clipped in with my left foot and set my crank to the start position

the two minute warning had passed
I did not try to count with the officials clock
then the thirty second warning
again... I did not try to estimate the officials clock
I just tried to be ready

then it happened

125 Racers mashed the pedals on the pavement fighting to be the first to reach the grass

I hustled with the fight for the front but did not want to do anything too foolish
like causing cramping in the first 100 yards
there was some elbow rubbing
a passing cyclist on my right clipped my handlebars
everything was fine... I was moving forward

off the pavement and onto the grass it happened
it happened so fast that I was able to react only by second nature
bodies and bikes piled up in front of me
the sound of carbon clicked around me

I would try to be more detailed in the description of what happened
but I still do not know what happened
I am not sure what caused it or how many cyclists got tangled in this mess

I was lucky
this happened right in front of me yet I did not get engulfed in the ugliness
bikes swarmed past me as I tried to maintain composure and rejoin the race

I took my slot in the queue
accepting that the person in front of me is forced to maintain a pace no faster than the bike in front of them
and so on... and so on
there was a bit of barking from frustrated racers as the leaders sped off into the distance

I tried picking off racers and racers worked to pick off me
there was plenty of slot swapping as things started to sort out

the bike and body felt pretty okay on lap one
it was a mystery how much I had in the tank
all I knew was I had to give it my all and leave it on the course

the laps went by as the laps do
passing the finish I looked at the tally of remaining laps
it pained me to see that three laps remained
I was not sure I had that much left in me
but... I had worked so hard to get this spot... I felt as if I had to fight to maintain it

so I fought...
I fought to catch the wheel in front of me
I fought to keep from being over taken by the wheels behind me
the race was roughly halfway over and I had almost nothing left in the tank
there was no place where I felt any more comfortable than the racers around me

no where on the course did I feel that I had an advantage
the tall railroad tie barriers were easy for me to dismount and hop over
but I am not sure if that earned me any time
the temporary stairs with packed mulch on the back side of the course did not cause me any pain or discomfort
yet I was not able to make up any time there either

on the swooping singletrack there was no place to pass
rapid acceleration would be met by a tight turn
this prevented me from being able to flow as comfortably as I felt I could roll
which was fine... had I tried to take the pace up I more than likely would have found myself off the course rolled up in a ball of tape

the pavement climb could have been a good place for me to accelerate forward
but instead I used the pavement as a place to recover
perhaps not... I needed to recover

each lap contained a great deal of excitement
cross is about testing personal limits
cross is about attempting to take each and every section of the course as fast as you can

on the first pass through the sand pits I ran
on the laps to follow I rode the sand pits without issue
that was comfortable, but not a game winning move
there was no place on the course where I felt that I had an advantage
but luckily... there was no place on the course where I felt significantly disadvantaged

it hurt
I raced with my usual strategy of going out hard and then hanging on
luckily my pace did not painfully drop so much that I lost my position

the final results have me finishing 27th out of roughly 100 or so racers
not bad... I am pleased with my effort and my results

that cluster at the start kicked me back a few spots
but really... I was lucky to get caught in it

it was a great day of racing
I had a bit of bicycling malaise going into the event
not being on the bike builds into not caring if I were racing
but... the race is infectious
racing makes me want to race more

next week is Ed Sander's
I am there
but not sure what else I am going to do this season

1 comment:

M said...

I guess I'm not the only one that has that same anxiety pre-race. Starting where I did on Sunday's race definitely calmed me down though—back of the pack of 125. Nice race report, see you at Ed Sanders.