Race Report: 2010 Rockburn Cyclocross Race

this fall I seemed to have lost momentum on the Race Reports...
I have lost momentum on the bicycle race reports and on the bicycle races themselves

a lack luster effort on the bike
a lack luster effort on the blog
as much as I like to rant on about nothing
I felt like my efforts on the bike did not merit record on the blog
perhaps I did not feel like re-living my races by scripting a race report

yet... I think I will try to wind things up with a few words
with the absence of the Capital Cross Classic this year... Rockburn will act as my final cyclocross race of the season...
not just my final cyclocross race... but my final bicycle race of the year

although I did register for the MABRA Championships in Taneytown I do not plan on attending

when I registered I thought that my fitness, intensity, and desire would be resting on a different plateau rather than lying dormant in a valley

I am done... my season is over
I think my season may have been over months ago
as others ramped up their riding... my riding dropped off
it is usually something like this each fall... but this year it was worse

not sure what I will say
lets see what happens with the hands on the keyboard

a glance at the course preview of Rockburn as presented by
In The Crosshairs you get a good look at my fat ass for about 1/2 of the first lap

RACE REPORT: 2010 Rockburn Cyclocross Race

A few weeks back I had a lack luster effort at Coppi's Tacchino Ciclocross Race at Rosaryville State Park... I am not sure what I scripted about that event... perhaps a glance at that archive will give you an
idea where I am at in life and on the bike
I think I started a report... never finished it... never posted it
there may be some words and images just the same


Tacchino was a good race... a fun course with some energy to the venue
I was in no mood to appreciate any of it
it was a grumpy day for me

okay... let me see if I can get this started
try to get away from words on Tacchino and think more about Rockburn

there has been very little time on the bike recently
being under employed has removed bicycle
commuting from my life
commuting by bike is a way to get
suited up on the bike every day... the rides are not long... but the short post work rides are better than no rides at all

normally I would extend my commute home for an hour or more of intense pushing of the pedals

having been laid off from my job last spring has removed that "stealth training" from my routine
it would seem that under employment would allow for rides during the day
alas no... unemployment is not fun-employment
it is a weird limbo
a weird limbo that exists in between the pick up and drop off of my kids from school each day

I have been working a few days a week at the old job... the routine is not set such that I
guarantee myself a bicycle ride... in fact... those few days a week are not even guaranteed

most of my bike rides are with my kids... we have been working a routine where I drop the kids off a few blocks from school with their bicycles
then rather than picking them up in the car after school I ride my bike to their school and we r
ide home together
our rides vary... but riding with a six and nine year old would hardly constitute training

the distance and intensity of these post school day rides is dictated by our lowest common denominator
... the desire of a six year old
young Grant is not always inspired to ride
some of our post school rides are directly home
some times we ride for three or more miles
but again... at a six year old's pace

this would not qualify as training... unless I were racing the Lil Belgians




I am neither fit nor fast... winter weight is already starting to creep up on me

although my race weight is never slight... I am heavier this year than I usually am at this time of year

my effort on the bike at Tacchino Ciclocross was painful and slow
I approached the race with all sorts of self doubt
my race effort and lack luster results affirmed that doubt and had me leave the race sight feeling dejected

Tacchino was my worst race effort of the season
my body and mind were not in the game
I was there... but attendance only counts for so much

there needs to be more than showing up and throwing your leg over the bike
cyclocross is about want

my race effort did not show want

cyclocross is about racing hard
cyclocross is not about riding hard
there is a definite difference between riding hard and racing hard

yes... I rode hard at Tacchino... I rode hard while racers swarmed around me

anyone who wanted to pass me got to pass me
I may have fought the pass... but I did not fight to pass back

if nothing else... my presence gave glory to those looking to pass one more racer

oh... this is supposed to be a report for Rockburn... not Tacchino... sorry
back to the Rockburn Race Report

let me start over... again
I will admit... the were race report efforts for DCCX and Tacchino that never made the page because
they meandered about like this

RACE REPORT: 2010 Rockburn Cyclocross Race

in the days leading up to the race I was on the fence about racing
at Rockburn
I was not sure what I was going to get out for another cyclocross race
dread overwhelmed me when I thought about riding my bicycle on grass between red and white strips of tape

somehow... it just did not sound like fun

the demons in my head had a thousand and one reasons not to race... I had a hard time battling back the demons... I lacked a solid rebuttal

the thought of bowing out and letting my season be over and done with was winning over the notion of manning up and getting on the bike

it was only towards the end of the week that I realized that I needed to ignore the voices in my head and not give into the demons
on Friday I was able to convince myself that racing was my best option

I had decided I was going to race... yes... decided but I was not entirely convinced... my determination was waning
I lacked want
yet it had been decided

Saturday was a lazy day...

the boys woke extra early to watch some Saturday morning television

the boys soccer season had ended the weekend prior
although I had intended on starting the boys on Karate... being lazy seemed to make more sense

as the boys watched the tube and Lisa did Yoga... I packed my bags with an assortment of DCMTB gear for the race on the following day


with gear in my bag I took a look at my bike
it looked fine
I deflated the tires a bit and set them to 38 PSI in the front and 40 PSI in the back.... then threw some lube on the chain and called the bike race ready
I neglected to pay any mind to my race day fuel
I did not even load up any water bottles

the day unfolded and turned into night
in the afternoon we had a quick session on The National Mall where we went for an early season skate at the Sculpture Garden Ice Rink
then when the evening came we had dinner with friends
the kids went to bed late...
after a few beers... I went to bed late as well

when I woke in the morning I was just not feeling it
the demons were swarming in my head
hugging the pillow felt better than getting out of bed

I got up just to shout down the stairs to my wife saying I would not be racing
then I climbed back in bed
the demons had won
their victory felt like a victory to me

it felt good to be under the covers in my warm bed
I pulled to pillow close and got ready to drift back to sleep

a few minutes passed and I realized... it is unfair for me to be able to cave into my demons
when I so often refuse to let my children cave into their demons

what sort of a role model would I be if I refused to race because I did not feel like it?

it would make me a hypocrite

I had to man up
I had to step up
I had to fight back the demons
I had to listen to the NIKE mantra of the 90's JUST DO IT
I had to listen to my personal mantra... IT IS BETTER ON THE BIKE

out of bed and into some clothes
I grabbed my bike and loaded up my car and headed to the race site
coffee in one hand and directions in the other I drove out of the city towards Rockburn

although I slept a few minutes later than planned I was not late for the race
the distance from downtown to Rockburn is not that far
I arrived with plenty of time to warm up
rather than warm up I socialized and then rode my bicycle around

when I say I socialized... I really mean I walked around bitching and complaining

I was there... but I was not psyched
there was no Red Bull to be had
there was no way to jump start this mood

to race... the racer needs to have their head right
my head was not right

I tried to breath and get my head right
just as I had at Tacchino... I would try here
try to overcome that feeling of malaise
so I worked on breathing
the oxygen to the brain felt good

at the car I filled a flask with Coca Cola for a little liquid energy that I knew I would be needing during this race
Red Bull would have offered a more potent kick... but Coca Cola was all that I brought along
Coca Cola would have to do
when I got to the start line people were already filling into position
I got in the row that corresponded with my number
others were showing up late

the officials barked at people for showing up late
the officials told people to move because there were too many people in each row
sheepishly I stood there... the officials had not singled me out... my number corresponded with my row... so I stayed there

I was not the only one pulling this move
feeling somewhat bad about showing up late I apologized to those around me

not being the only one to be out of line I did not step forward and admit my wrong doin
maybe I should have gone to the back of the pack
maybe all the late arrivals should have gone to the back of the pack

people only moved when they were instructed by the official
not being singled out... I did not leave my row

the officials gave some instruction as the racers braced themselves for the first lap hustle

with a 15 second countdown racers stood poised and ready
my legs started to cramp with my being locked in the same position waiting for the start
then it happened
the release

on the pavement racers took the momentum forward and I moved with them
I did not make a dramatic effort to get ahead in the pack
I just went fast enough so that I did not drift too far back
allowing those who really wanted it to get ahead of me

off the pavement and onto the grass and I was racing
like sheep being taken off to be sheared we moved about like one amoeba mass only minus the border collies nipping at our heels
racing is rubbing
and cyclocross has no shortage of rubbing
there was all sorts of bitching going on
I could hear people barking at each other in front of me and in back of me

racers fought for position
it got sloppy
people got pushed into the tape
I tried not to cause any strife

the first few laps went along pretty okay
although I was not racing for the front I was also not falling off the back
the bike and body felt fine
I did not feel particularly spry nor was I feeling completely dead
I was out riding my bike
and well... that felt pretty okay

people passed me... it is to be expected
faster cyclists belong in front of me
lots of people passed me
most people passed me than slowed their pace and faded into me...


please... if you pass... just keep going
if you pass and then drift in front of me causing me to brake
well... then you are an asshole
I guess there are different ethics in mountain than road
in my mind... that is an obnoxious way to make the pass

a few laps went by and I was feeling content with my riding on the course
my focus was not entirely as intense as it should have been
but my attendance was better than nothing
a no show was my other option
so... I felt good with how things were going

I was at the race and I was on the bike
a few good laps not so far from the front

then it happened...
my pace dropped
more people started to pass me
their passing occurred uncontested

worse than being passed... I started to be passed by a number of people who I would have liked to have finished in front of
first it was fellow Clydesdale Robert Gargantas... then Family Bike Shop Trevor... and then DCMTB's Mark Drajem... oh man... I glanced back... and I saw DCMTB's Michael Mathias
oh... I was drifting back fast... I was destine to be la Lantern Rouge!
I needed to stay in the game... although I did not have enough "want" to hang with Robert, Trevor, or Drajem... I could not accept being caught and passed by Michael Mathias

it seemed like Rockburn was going to be just like Tacchino
another lame effort on the bike
top thirty at Charm City... and now back of the pack at Rockburn
not exactly how I wanted things to play out

riding the course hard was not enough
there was no fight left in this dog
it was all about survival
I worked hard just to finish
hanging on was all I had

I tried to stay in the game by racing the race within the race
it amused me that the people around me could not get away from me
there were three or so racers I was stuck in a cat and mouse game with
it intrigued me that the were content with fighting to be in front of my wheel
rather than chasing the wheel just ahead

but who was I to talk... I was not able to get that wheel ahead of me
I was only able to match the efforts right around me

it was the same thing on each of these final laps
I would try and take the semi technical sections faster than them
then they would pass me on the flat straights and the short power climbs
then I would fight to get past them on a twist or a turn
only to be passed again on the flats or the short power climbs

as with any cyclocross race
I lost several slots on the up hill sections
the disadvantage caused by my weight and my size was displayed on each lap on the paved section and the climbs coming out of the woods
I was getting killed on these sections of the course

it was funny...
I never had that "I WANT TO QUIT" feeling
perhaps I was not going hard enough to get that "I WANT TO QUIT" feeling

listening to the announcer call the race at the front of the pack and passing the remaining laps counter I gauged the fuel I had in reserve

with a lap and a half to go I tried to pick up the pace
well... those around me did the same
and well... I guess those in front of us did the same as well
I did not make up any spaces

instead... I continued that same cat and mouse game with the same set of racers around me

I laughed to myself as I thought about the strategy of the racers around me
and how I was going to fight to the finish for one or two slots on the final results
I laughed to myself that the racers around me were fighting at this point in the course
when they could easily wait for the pavement to the finish to simply leap in front of me

the course went through its last set of technical turns and then put us onto the pavement

there I was... all 230 pounds of me sitting in the saddle with my upright bars on my Specialized Cross Bike hammering... not sprinting... but hammering
hammering past the two racers in front of me and moving forward and further away from the racer behind me
shockingly... I crossed the finish line in front of them... almost uncontested
the two racers in front of me and the racer behind me

it made me smile
it was a good last effort... if for nothing else... but for the tale of the tape
it was a good effort at the finish.... but not fast enough to catch fellow DCMTB racer Mark Drajem
Mark had already crossed the line one slot in front of me

I was short of breath... my legs were burning
it was a pleasure to be done

the race was over... and so was my cyclocross season
it had been a good year on the bike
there were a number of highlights
none of which occurred during cyclocross season... but there were definitely some highlights


I had made the right choice
racing was the right choice

racing was the only choice
although I did not beat the racers I wanted to beat
I did manage to beat back the demons in my head
which was a bit of a victory... a victory not as minor as it sounds

it is always BETTER ON THE BIKE!
it is important not to cave into the voices in my head
it is important not to lose out to the demons

I stayed and watched a few other races
but honestly... my heart was not in it
other people were enjoying themselves while I just wanted to go home
as much fun as watching the tandem race may be... I was not staying for the fun
fun did not seem like part of my agenda

45th out of roughly 79 racers

web shots by Joe Mallis Photography
other photos by me
more photos from Rockburn on the Gwadzilla Facebook Page!

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