a distant memory...

my DCMTB kit has long since dried since being washed after NCVC's Ed Sander's Memorial cyclocross race this Sunday past
there is still a thick coating of mud caked to my skinny cyclocross tires with their diminutive knobs and to my cycling shoes with their Time cleats for the pedals and the screw on cleats on the toes
a conglomerate mess of grass and earth is crusted to my brakes and stacked up on the chain stay
the bike wash needs to become part of my routine

the bike wash is not really part of my routine
I would rather be socializing as I traverse the race course with my camera than standing in line to spray my bicycle with the hose

so... here it is Wednesday
the race and the race day and all of its splendor seems a lifetime away
hopefully the memories are not so far gone that I can no relive a moment or two

RACE REPORT: 2011 Ed Sander's Memorial Cyclocross Event
after a short drive out of the city I at Lily Pons Water Gardens just out of Frederick
not even 45 minutes from home (without traffic and without speeding) and I was in a land of wide open spaces that seemed like a world away
with small rolling hills that are the east coast's version of mountains in the distance I could see the fantastic multicolor world that is fall

In the grass parking lot the Honda Element got parked oddly similar to where it has parked many times before
not early but not late I had enough time to get my number and throw my leg over the bike and take a quick spin... no opportunity to pre-ride the course... but enough time to spin my legs for a few minutes

before I got to the line I got out of the car and went to the registration tent to get my race number
then back at the car I somewhat discretely I changed into my DCMTB black and red fall kit
DCMTB shorts over logoless knickers... shorts that I mistakenly ordered disastrously large work well over a set of knickers or tights...
both the shorts and the knickers are padded... the extra padding is not so bad or the occasionally sloppy cyclocross remount

on the way to the registration tent I scoped out the Lil Belgian's course...
NCVC always does a good job with their Lil Belgian's course
just like the main course this year... they changed up their kid's course
although I register my boys for a day of racing I left them at home

funny... I think I spent more time accessing the lil belgian's course than the main race course
clever as it may sound it is entirely true
even though I had loaded the aerial course map onto my page I had not looked at things
although I had heard about there being some course changes and some reversing of directions... I had not really looked into things

even with the day lights savings time extra hour I was not early enough to pre-ride the course
in my social exchanges I quizzed those that had raced and those who had pre-ridden things if there were any surprises on the course
I was told that for the most part it would be a course of very few surprises
the one thing that people mentioned was the mud on the back side

mud on the backside? thank you Beavis... yes... mud on the backside
everyone offered up the same set of choices

ride it or run it?

all kitted up I threw my leg over the bike and took a quick spin
through the tall grass I left the Lily Pons property and did a quick out and back on road

back at the car I continued to fuel up

a little more caffeine and a another banana
then a squirt of energy gel... which also contained caffeine

seeing I had a few more minutes before the start I rode to and from the start line on a double track jeep road
trying to warm up and trying to get comfortable on the bike
trying to break the tension and kill some time before the start of the race

while warming up I ran into my brother Marc and we rode a short out and back along side of each other on a path that was flanked by a set of man
made ponds filled with ornate aquatic plants
we made small talk as we rode... we talked about the course and the soon to start race
as I made a turn on some loose gravel I felt my tail end try to slide out
then over a few small rocks I felt more rim than I expected with my usual tire pressure

we ended our warm ups and wished each other luck as we gathered at the start line
my brother Marc racing with the 45+ while I was lining up with the Single Speeds

along side another single geared rider I reached back and pinched my rear wheel to check the pressure
YIKES! my rear wheel was nearly flat... not soft and squishy... but almost flat... far from the 40 PSI that I set last night and double checked before my warm up
maybe 7-10psi

no time to swap out the tube
no time to trouble shoot things
I rushed back to the car and grabbed my pump and aired things up
back to 40 PSI and back to the line

at the line with air in the tire I gave it a pinch
things seemed to be holding fine

not sure if I ran over a thorn or a thistle
it was not clear if it was a pinch flat
I had hoped that air had snuck out of a presta valve that was not tightened down enough... wishful thinking

there was no time to worry about this
the 11am racers were being released in front of me
the 45+ racers were on the course and it would be our turn next
on the pavement clustered in with an assortment of racers on Single Speed Bikes I tried to preload my lungs with fresh air

the officials gave us our 30 second warning
not a countdown... but a warning... our start could occur any time within that thirty seconds
I waited for that premature release
excited to put in a strong race
anxious about how things would play out

curious about the changed to the course
also curious how my bike and body would treat me today

with the sound of a whistle we were released
on the flat pavement I clicked into the pedals and was pedaling fast along side so may strong riders
I felt good and I wanted to try to hang with the fast guys at the front
then the flat pavement pointed up hill
ah... the Clydesdales biggest nemesis... no... not ice cream and chocolate cake... a hill

racers sprinted up the hill
while my effort was not quite as quick or as spry

I raced up the hill with strength and power but no speed
there is no way that my 230 pound body can match the speed of all those featherwei ghts in front of me
as frustrating as it was I was able to accept that I had to let them go and try to catch them at another point in the course
no need to go ballistic in the first 200 yards
too much effort on that initial climb had the potential for more loss than gain

onto the grass and I was alright with my position
a Single Speeder named Alex was on my rear wheel which had me feeling alright about my effort and my positioning as I rolled onto the grass

sure enough... NCVC had changed things up
the course was new and different
as expected... there was nothing unexpected
I attacked each section
well... I attacked each section as best I could

the cheering from the sidelines aided in my effort
cowbells ringing in my ear I fought to make a race of it
every time I heard my name called I got a little bit of energy

on the grass I experienced another variable that does not favor the Clydesdale cyclists
soft ground and tall grass...

the course was soft... my wheels were sinking deep
where other racers skate on top of things... my wheels sunk
where all racers wheels sunk... my wheels sunk deeper
my front wheel always having to plow through the earth in front of it

it was painful... I worked very hard to go not so fast...I wanted to go fast... but the course would not let me
as much as I wanted to reel in and catch the racers in front of me
it was not happening
no where on the course did I find that I was advantaged

at the end of the first lap I hit the pavement where the race started
this section would suck energy from me each lap
on each lap I would work very hard to not go very fast
I would work this section with all the strength I had not to roll backwards

it was confusing as cyclocross can often be
the thought of my flat at the race start was completely forgotten
there were a few turns on the course where I had to fight my rear wheel from slipping out from under me
there was an off camber turn that was being stripped of its grass surface that I was cautious on
and the gravel turns by the Lily Pons buildings had to be taken with a gentle arc

although I was not able to consciously understand it
my rear wheel was losing air which had me losing traction and control
as I approached these sections on each lap I adjusted accordingly
working to stay upright rather than working to flow through with speed meant I was not going as fast as I should be or could be

I had a little cat and mouse with fellow single speeder and fellow bald beardo Alex
not much back and forth I had to let him pass
I did not let him slip away
but I could not challenge his pass

I kept Alex in sight and trying to watch the lap counter
trying to save something for the end
thinking that I could rally on the last lap and a half
make my move then
try to pick up a few slots in the last lap and a half

speeding up at the tale end of the race may have been everyone's strategy
or maybe I fought to speed up but was only able to maintain
either way... I may have caught some geared racers from the earlier released classes but was not able to pass any more single speeders

as I climbed the paved road leading into my last lap I heard Joe Jefferson over the loud speaker
it was confusing
the first place 45+ racer crossed the line right in front of me

his race was over
Joe Jefferson confused roles of heckler and official and tried to call me off the course... tried to tell me that my race was over

I ignored him
although I was hypoxic
I knew that I had one more lap to race
although I was not sure who the Single Speed leaders were
I could see the Kelly Benefits Strategy kit of Bernie Schaio a few turns ahead

back on the grass I tried to muscle an impressive last lap
I wanted to climb a few spaces forward in my class

by this time my rear tire was flat
but it did not matter
it was not something that really effected my pace
a combination of my form and my fitness along with the challenges of the course were greater contributors to the performance of the day than my having a flat tire

in the distance a turn ahead was Alex on his Single Speed
as I fought to catch him he fought to stay away... or maybe he fought to catch the racer in front of him
no matter
I tried to match his effort... and that was all I could do... was match his effort
I was unable to accelerate and close the gap between us
then with half a lap to go I gave in and accepted my position

I knew that I would not be able to catch him
I did not fear that anyone else was going to catch me
there were a few more passes made before I crossed the finish line
they were all racers from other classes
lapped riders...

I climbed that road section one last time
crossed the finish line
my race was done
I was done

I made small talk with a few people as I meandered my way back to the car
once at the car I threw up

an excess of caffeine and energy drink left my body
a few painless hurls
mostly liquid and gel... maybe some chewed banana
this was all fine.... I would not need it... I was done riding for the day

in the end it was not the finish I was looking for on this day
but it was a good day on the bike
we all had the same set of variables on the course
the faster racers finished in front of me
what is there to complain about

it was a beautiful day to be on the bike
it was a great day for racing
NCVC hosted an amazing race and an awesome party
the hecklers were filling their beers and the racers were getting their money's worth

I hung out for a few minutes looping the course with the camera
making small take with friends
exchanging my tales of woe with my fellow racers
always good to go to the races and indulge in the social club of cyclists

leaving off for the short drive home to grab the kids before my wife took the train to NY for work
once home I wanted to put my feet up and take a nap
but I could not... it was too nice of a day to squander
I rallied my boys for a hike in the woods of Rock Creek Park where we were surrounded by autumn in all of its splendor
things were so beautiful in the woods that we could not get enough of the day
after our short hike we jumped in the car with a kid from down the block and went to the secret rope swing

not a bad way to spend a Sunday

the rear wheel is still flat on my single speed cyclocross bike
need to resolve that issue before I race again!

that last photo of me is amusing
my less than skin tight jersey is flapping in the wind
as I commented previously on this photo
YES! I am a beast of a man... but... although I may have Santa's beard... I do not have his belly
I am large... but not that large!

Large Photos thanks to Capital Crew!
Smaller Photos thanks to Carlo Alfano



RESULTS... well the results are somewhere

1 comment:

chuck said...

Thanks for the race report. I was suffering a few spots behind you and couldn't do much but watch. I hope to give you a challenge sometime in the future.