Sunday, October 4, 2009

Early Cyclocross Racing

So, I should be up at Gloucester today for Day 2 of the 2nd round of Verge racing, but I think the body has finally protested adequately to too many weekends in a row of racing. So, instead I'll update my blog and get some sponsorship requests together and chill for change.

I raced Suckerbrook in Auburn, NH the weekend after Tahoe (9/20/09). It went well. I came in 5th and felt reasonable strong during the race, although I didn't quite feel like I had a lot "juice" in my legs. Funny, Zanc (mike zanconato, my cross bike builder) asked me what I thought of the dusty conditions of the course and I was like, this is nothing...I've been racing super dusty courses for the past two weeks. It was pretty dry, but traction was good. I started ok but then let myself get passed in the first couple of corners because I don't quite trust my cross skills yet and I'm just not used to being that aggressive on the bike. Then I have a lot of work cut out for me to get back into good standing. I got going and picked off some riders and then hung in with the 4th place finisher for the last couple of laps. There wasn't too much to the course to excel as mountain biker, but for the first one out 5th wasn't too shabby.

Then it was off to Vermont the next weekend to begin the Verge Series races. I went into the weekend not having slept well for a few nights, and then Doug and I and Bruschi were camping out in Burlington pretty much right on Lake Champlain. I didn't sleep well Friday night, especially since I was camping with Bruschi in the tent who didn't seem to want to settle down. Saturday morning was a chilly day, but the walk along the lake in the morning was absolutely stunning. Breakfast at the Skinny Pancake was excellent, but perhaps a tad heavy, but I thought I'd be ok for the 4PM race start. I was feeling pretty wiped out though, and debated just skipping Saturdays race and trying to get some rest for Sunday's race, but I couldn't bag a race yet... So I head off to the race venue, register, warm up and get ready to race. I started terribly - missed my pedal and was totally off balance. I had all I could do to stay upright and not knock down any other racers. I would have been horrified if I had been the "one" to take everyone out at the start. So needless to say i was off the gate slow on this one. I worked my way up some positions. The course had a lot of climbing on it, which after climbing for over an hour in my 100s I thought would be no big deal but they hurt. I was able to gap a couple racers finally on an uphill in the woods that had a few logs in it that I was able to ride while they would run it. Aside from my start, I was happy with how focused I was on the race. Focus is pretty big in these races, unlike the 100s where you can zone out for long periods of time pedaling up some climb forever. Anyway, I came in 12th on Saturday which I was please with given the talented racers there, my terrible start and being so tired. I was a bit crabby that night to say the least. I just wanted some dinner and bed. But I probably waited to long to get food in me and I only slept so so Saturday night. At least Bruschi was tired out from a long day at the race.

Rain came in overnight which I knew would make for an interesting day racing, but a muddy course would actually be good for me as a mountain biker. I was still pretty wiped out. I knew it was going to be a tough day racing. I'm not used to racing hard back to back days so I was worried about that, had been worrying about that during Saturdays race when i was thinking there's no way I can do this again... The course Sunday was a lot a different. The corners were pretty greasy but it wasn't all that muddy. Warming up I knew I was kind of in trouble for having a stellar performance, but I tried to convince myself that the legs would come around. I focused on getting my food in the pedal at the start and did, and actually started really well. I was amazed at the sprint I had, but that was about it. I faded in the first climb and got passed by a bunch of woman. I held on as best I could and did manage to pull in some riders. I was pleased to see that I was actually passing them on corners which I hadn't felt was a strong suit of mine in cyclocross, so that was a confidence booster. Anyway, I ended up 11th on Sunday, in a slightly smaller field. The legs were definitely cooked, but I was happy to see I could race back to back days. Then it was the long drive home and time to get some good rest for going into Gloucester races. Doug was awesome supporting me at the races, taking pics, taking care of bruschi and putting up with my crabbiness.. and then driving home like a maniac...

So, I kind of knew all week I wasn't feeling great on the bike. My workouts during the week have been really pretty low key so I was hopeful that I could/was recovering from the back to back weekends of racing, but not quite. My heart rate has been low all week and just no zip in the legs. I had signed up for Gloucester already so I didn't not want to go. The forecast was very bleak all week. Rain, rain, rain for Saturday. The rain did come in. I figured what the heck, I haven't done any truly nasty races this year so I thought hey, maybe it could be fun, and certainly the muddy conditions on a more "roadie" type cross course could be to my favor. I showed up in Gloucester to wet, very windy, nasty conditions. I was kind of excited about it. I got a great number 117, how lucky to me... and I actually pinned on my number all by myself very well! (I suck at that, I have to give myself like 1/2 hr extra getting ready :))...
Anyway, warming up I could tell the legs were still feeling kind of like junk still. My heart rate seemed to be responding a bit better, but I just didn't feel great about it. It was freezing on the start line, but once we got going it warmed up fast. I didn't start really great. The legs just weren't there. I did manage to pass a lot of racers early on though in the muddy, nasty corners. That was kind of satisfying. I felt like crap through most of it. The legs just burned way too early and just didn't have much to give. I was kind of bummed out about that since I was riding the course pretty well and certainly had a advantage with my mnt bike skills. Thankfully we only had 3 laps, as I was totally fading in the 3rd lap. I had yo yo'd with a few riders, passing them in the nasty stuff and then getting beat on the flats (not usually the way it goes for me). Kind of frustrating to just feel so crappy. I knew I was cooked from too much racing as much as I hate/d to admit it. I came in 15th, again not too bad with the depth of talented riders in this race. I just wish I had some legs as I know I could have been much further up there and could have had a lot more fun in the mud. So driving home I was pretty bummed out by the fact that I obviously need a break. I heard Providence's course next weekend is a lot of fun and then it's a weekend off after that. I convinced myself that not racing today, Sunday, in Gloucester was good idea and that maybe if I rest all week I can have some better legs for Providence. So, we'll see how that goes.

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