Race Report: Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Event 2010

several years ago Ed Sander an employee at Lily Pon's and a member of the NCVC cycling club died in a bizarre training accident
riding the rollers in his house Ed slipped and crashed through a glass table
found dead and bloody on the floor by his ex-wife

yes... life can be more strange than fiction

I never knew Ed Sander but from what I have heard he was a good person with a warm heart

it pleases me to see his name attached to this race
people gather to race an event where Ed worked
the event is hosted by a team that Ed raced with

some of the money earned at this event goes to a college fund for Ed Sander's children

Race Report: Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Event 2010
Sunday morning was met with a slight drizzle
with the morning still dark I worked my way through the mist and loaded three kids bikes into the Honda Element
then put my cross bike on the rear rack
I still have not ordered the parts to fix my rack after the parking garage valet shamelessly broke my roof rack

with the windshield wipers pushing aside the lightly falling rain I drove the short distance out of DC on Interstate 270 headed west towards Frederick

as I drove I fueled my body in anticipation of my second cyclocross race of the season... my second race that acts as the first race in the MABRA Series

I had not ridden my cross bike since Charm City the week prior
no cyclocross practices
no mid-week work outs
well... nothing more than riding my bike to get the kids from school and then our short ride across town together

after packing helmet, gloves, socks, shorts, and jersey the bike got a glance
there was still dust from Charm City's race the week prior
no more than a second in the bicycle repair stand and things were good to go
with a WABA Bike to Work Day shirt I cleaned and lubed the drive train...
pulled the rear wheel and tossed it in the trueing stand so that I could tightened some spokes...
and with a spin of the cranks I checked the brakes and gears
everything seemed ready to rock
everything seemed ready to roll

the bike seemed to be working as it should
I felt confident that I would be as ready for Ed Sanders as I was for Charm City
not race ready... but ready to race

with a painless drive in the falling rain I arrived at Lily Pons

I cursed myself for the shortage of gear
for some reason I did not bring a raincoat... an umbrella... or any clothing options
no knickers... no arm or leg warmers... nothing

how could I pack the car in the rain but not be lucid enough to think to bring some sort of rain gear?

but then after I registered and got my race number the rain stopped
everything would be fine

I had been anxious for nothing

as I pinned my race number on my DCMTB jersey I wondered why my number was so high... 861
(or something like that)
had I really registered so late
or was I being punished for some bad blogging?
had I slandered the NCVC name one too many times?

861 would put me pretty far back

sadly I would be too far in the back to really make any sort of charge for the front
last year I think I had a top twenty finish... I doubted that would be possible on this day
oh well... such is life... or really such is cross racing
my race would be the race within the race
not the race for the top spot on the podium

some socializing with familiar faces and old friends as I warmed up on the road then took a lap on the course
there had been some changes to the course... but no real surprises
it was the characteristic Lily Pons Cyclocross Course... a grass packed path weaving between the man made canals that act as the home to exotic aquatic plants
then the long double track jeep road that goes to the area that has been come to be known as "the back nine"
with its steep run up... equally steep drop in... feeding into another set of turns and then a short steep climb that passes a second announce booth that is usually surrounded by an assortment of hecklers

the rain had dampened things.... but not really any worse than the standard morning dew
the course would be good by the time my race was to begin at 10am

the C Race started and finished then the Men Master B 35+ gathered for their call ups

my head was not entirely in the game
it was hard to think "race" with the race so many rows ahead of me
anxiety filled me as I feared a pile up around me

I thought about where and when I could possibly try to get closer to the front
I realized that the first lap would be the deciding lap
that was no genius discovery
in most cross races the first lap is the deciding lap
the first lap... and then the final lap

there were some words from the officials then we were set to go

there may have been a countdown... I was so far back I am not sure if I heard anything except for the sound of the start
the bicycles in front of me stood still
I stayed dormant as well... trying not to collide with the wheel in front of me
then we were off...

bikes moved and there was the sound of cleats clipping in pedals and then the sound of countless skinny tires with little knobs rubbing against the pavement

the race started with a short 100 yard dash on pavement before the turn onto the prologue on the grass

I tried to maintain composure
I did not want to be caught in a crash
I did not want to cause a crash
I tried not to get too wrapped up in trying to pass people

it was congested
I did not need to say this
but it was congested
about 125 racers congested

we looped onto the main course then took to the barriers

bikes and bodies were everywhere
it was tough to get a fluid dismount and remount with all the racers packed in so close
the cluster of people kept our pace a little slow
back on the bike I figured I best start working forward
the main group seemed to be going a tad slow
while the leaders were more than likely pulling further away

I could not really tell what the leaders were doing
all I could see was the sea of cyclists around me

on the tight winding turns on the grass path between the lily ponds I tried to work my way around the racers
instead of staying on the main path I made my pass around the racers on the grass on the outside
I worked to get around people
all the while trying to be respectful of the other's racer's space
while also trying to not go so hard that I blew my load too early in the race

it was hard to say where I was in the game

I was not too far back
the leaders were in sight on the hard pack double track jeep road
I worked to try and catch them

I wanted to try and get into the top twenty on lap one

as it turns out

my secret strategy of going fast on the jeep road was not an original concept
as I passed a number of racers
even more racers passed me

heading into the back nine it was still pretty congested

no one was willing to let things string out... which was smart
it seemed everyone wanted to get closer to the front
knee to knee
elbow to elbow

on the so called "technical sections" I tried to make a few passes

I tried not to get stuck at the other racers' pace
after each aggressive pass I was often passed back
on the off camber downhill with the powerlines to the right I accepted the moderate pace of the long line of racers in front of me
a pass at this point was too risky

in my mind I felt that their tentative pace was better than me trying to make up ground and over cooking a turn

leaving me on the ground

at the start of lap two I was feeling pretty okay

I had worked my way up
cheers from the sidelines gave me an idea where I stood in the pack
someone on the sideline told a racer behind me that they were 24th
this gave me energy
I felt that there was some hope for me after all

even if I had not broken the top twenty
I was still putting in a good effort

I worked hard to catch the racers in front of me

making a few passes here and there
only to be the victim of someone else's effort
again on the double track jeep road I got passed by the stronger and more fit road cyclists
this so called "mountain bike" course was not at all technical
this was a fast and flat hammer course that favored those that had the powered to hammer the straight at high speed

not sure if it was lap two or lap three

but somewhere early in the race there was a downed rider
3/4 of the way through the double track jeep road that leads to the back nice there was a racer
flat on his back refusing to get up
scrapes on his forehead
some blood and a look of anguish of his face

a number of racers from our event had stopped their race to lend assistance

no one tried to move him
there was a buzz about neck injury
the racers passed the downed rider but did not work to pass each other on this section
it was a designated "neutral zone"

the downed racer was a grim reminder of the risks of racing
on each lap it was a rude awakening to the fragility of it all

there was some friendly banter between racers

DCMTB's Darren Biggs passed me... then faded in front of me
a classic roadie maneuver
then on a little technical rise and then turn Darren bumped another racer then crashed in front of me
thanks Darren

Darren would then regain composure and pass me again

then pick up a number of spaces on me
anyone with any road training had the advantage over me
it irked me for Darren to beat me... but it did not shock me
that jeep road was such a disadvantage to me that it favored all who had logged the road miles in the months leading up to this day

the bike and body felt good

I was riding hard

but did not feel as if I could ride any harder
the long double track jeep road seemed to be the deciding factor of this race for me
years prior I had witnessed my weakness here
never have I altered my riding to compensate for my deficiency in speed or endurance
all I do is ride my bike

I ride it hard... but usually for fun
intervals are not part of my vocabulary
I thought to myself... some interval training would helped me
alas... training is the dreaded T WORD
I regret not training

the laps went passed
I did not have my usual "I AM GONNA DIE" sensation
my race ended and I felt I had a little left in the tank
there was not that I HAVE GONE SO HARD I AM GONNA PUKE sensation
no... I had ridden hard... but I may have not gone hard enough

the final laps were fast and fluid
I shared these laps with a 55+ racer who was really digging the course
he cornered fast and hard and ended up crashing harder
he launched nice little hops on the humps and really seemed to enjoy it all

across the line and I felt a little bit of a victory that there were racers behind me
I had finished ahead of a few of my team mates
but behind others

off the course I saw my family
it looked as if they had just arrived
not soon enough to cheer me on
oh well... their voices would not have changed anything
but I would have liked to have seen their faces on the sideline

I gathered my wits and altered my focus

back to the car to get the kids their bikes and to start getting them thinking about their races
six year old Grant was excited to get on his bike but told me he was not going to race
while nine year old Dean was willing to try stepping up from the lil Belgians to the 10-14 Juniors race

the boys suited up... well... they put on their helmets

then I gave them each a juice box
once properly fueled we went down to the lil Belgian's Course
the boys did some laps
Dean crashed and scraped himself up pretty bad

I gave Dean a few minutes to lick his wounds

with a band aid on his knee I told him to mount up
sore with fresh blood on his knee we went for a father son pre-ride
in street clothes we rode the course together

this sixty-six pound kid has trouble lifting a 40 pound bike over the knee high barriers

we moved at a casual pace around the course
I knew that the racers around him would push is pace during the race proper
we took the pre-ride so that there would be no surprises
and so that he would know where he is in his race on each lap
I was not trying to make him too tired to race

then lil Belgian's race happened with Grant as a willing participant

all his "I am not gonna race... I am not gonna race" vanished when it came to race time
Grant raced and raced hard
it was a good contest where he landed second
the experience was awesome to witness
and he got a medal

Dean's effort was admirable
as well
younger and less prepared than those around him
on a mountain bike in street clothes Dean lined up around kids on cross bikes in lycra
it was a tough... two long laps for a young child
two long laps in the heat

I worked the course and cheered for Dean at various points

taking photos in between cheers
trying to lend encouragement
showing my pride

I stayed late after Lisa left for home with the boys so that I could watch some of the Men's Elite

walking the course with the camera
it amazed me how much faster these guys attack the course than any of the other classes

after snapping some shots it seemed like it was time for me to get in the car and head for home
it had been a good day
an exhausting day
it is tough to wear so may hats
to race... to parent... and to take photographs

it was a good day

my race... my parenting... my photographs
they were all pretty good
although I would have had a better race... been a better parent.... or taken better photographs had I focused on just one activity
but that is not how it happened

a good day all around

thanks to NCVC for a stellar event
a great course with fantastic competition

A preview of the course with a video shot during the 2009 race
lots of Gwadzilla butt in this


Erik D Leaver said...

Sorry about the callup. Strictly by last years points for the first 16 and then reg order. We do love you--but on the start grid we have to love you the same as the other 124 racers :-)

Sigberto said...

as far as i know:

**all** of the money earned at this event goes to a college fund for Ed Sander's son

gwadzilla said...

15 0:02:02 0:38:58gwadz joel DCMTB:Family Bike Shop

last year I was 15th!

great race just the same!