Monday, November 22, 2010

Rockburn Cross

Another weekend of double dipping and the dipping was good.  Took the kids up to Chambersburg and rode the pump track with Larry and Oliver on Saturday. Then, spent Sunday in Howard County on skinny tires riding around in circles.

I'll get to the pump track session tomorrow, maybe. Right now I'd better focus on Rockburn while it's still somewhat fresh in my mind. David and I strolled up to Rockburn for the second day of the HoCo 2x CX races. Schooley Mill was on Saturday and while registered, I couldn't race.  So, I double dipped (again) on Sunday and did the Masters B race at 10am and then the Tandumb race with DKEG at 4pm.  It's a hellava long wait between the two races, but, it was worth it.  Early registration got me on the 3rd row of the Masters B race (3/4 35+&45+) and in a great starting position. It was a pretty full race with a lot of guys fighting hard for position.  I went off fast and hoped to get into a lead pack early in the race. The competition was tough and everyone else had the same idea. We went up the road section in a fairly large group, guys were rubbing elbows and jockeying for position all the way around the first half of the course. One guy tried to force an inside pass and he went into the tape when I held my line. Another guy tried to force a pass and we locked handlebars for a moment. My front wheel came off the ground and I thought I was a goner.  The bikes unlocked and we kept riding only to be sent into a pole and the tape 100 yards further up.  I went down that time and lost a couple spots. We were maybe half way around the first lap. It was going to be a physical race to be sure.

I ran through the sand pit and made up a spot on the inside corner. My transition was smooth and I was back up to speed quickly. A little straight-a-way and a hard left into the single track. Some roots on the high speed turns meant you had to check your speed, but, I was able to carry momentum and open up some gaps in this area.  The little climbs hurt me a bit and the geared riders were able to make up ground in these areas. Still, the legs felt good and I kept the intensity as high as possible.  By the time the second lap rolled around the field had spread out and you could ride your race without too much interference.  I really enjoyed the course this year. Last year I liked it, but, being new to cross I don't think I rode it well. Hell, I KNOW I didn't ride it well. This year was different. The tires were perfect, I had the right gear and everything just clicked. A nice semi-technical course that played to both types of racers. Power sections for the big engines and twisty, off-chamber turns for the technical weenies like myself.  There was something for everyone here.

The next couple laps were simply trying to ride smart and push as hard as the legs would allow. I bobbled a turn or two next to the tennis courts, but, nothing too bad. I guess it was my third or forth lap I decided to ride the sand pit. Many tires had packed a good line and riding was much easier now. I believe it was on this lap that Bill caught me and never looked back. He had a great race out there and I just hope to make the highlight reel, as he was passing me. Prior to this I was in something of a "no mans lands" with no one within attacking distance, either in front or behind. I had become complacent and I let up a little too much on that lap.  Shell shocked, I couldn't mount a decent counter-attack and watched him slowly ride away.
Bell lap was all about riding smart and not giving up any spots. I was able to do both. I found just enough extra kick that I was able to open the gap on a rider who had been breathing down my neck a littler earlier. He faded off the back and I drove hard through the final sections of the course.  Near the tennis courts I looked back to see my gap had increased a few more seconds and I knew unless something catastrophic occurred, I could soft peddle to the finish.  Rolling in I was 13th in the Masters B race and 5th in my age group.

The tandem race came next, well, not actually next, more like 5 hours later. So, I had a lot of time to kill and tried to limit my beer consumption while I whittled away the afternoon. I later found out I cracked a beer while standing next to the parks liaison that help organize the race. Apparently he just shook his head as he walked away and I was just blissfully unaware of the entire situation.  Oops. Where was I? Right, 5 hours to kill. I watched the Little Belgium's race, the junior's, the women's race, 3/4 mens, 1/2/3 men's, got a portobello  mushroom sandwich and fries (which were tasty), took a few race pics and laid out in a warm Autumn sun for a bit. Nice way to kill a few hours.

As the sun tracked across the sky, the temps dropped and we started to get ready for the tandumb race. David and I rode the bike around the roads and on some grass. We practiced a dis-mount and adjusted David's seat.  We were ready and lined up on the front row.  Nice piece of real estate we had there.  The Elite guys had just finished and we were waiting on the AFC team of Padem. Dressed as Mario and Luigi, they made a dramatic entry on the back of a Gator. Another couple was dressed as Santa and his elf. They would later get the best costume award. David and I hit the gas hard off the line, grabbed the hole shot and were beating the reigning MABRA tandem leaders...for about 15 seconds.  They passed us on the first turn and continued to open the gap. Still, we had them even if it was only for a fleeting moment.  We did, however, ride strong and held second place for lap 1 with both the Kelley squad and Tom Tom club close behind. By lap 2 Padam was just a distant speck on the horizon and a team from Kelly Benefits was knocking on our door.  David threw an elbow or two, so I'm told, and was able to thwart their first attack (I hope they know he was just messin' with them). They did eventually pass us and we passed them again.   All in all, I think we swapped positions a few times on lap 2 and the first half of the bell lap. Then, on the far side of the course, they dropped the hammer and slowly pulled away from us.  While this happening, I could see one of the AFC guys riding with one leg. I guess they decided to tie a leg behind their back to make things interesting.  So, the Kelly guys, with their aero-dynamic advantage, pulled away and we tried to close the gap. They put pressure the AFC team and were only a few seconds back going into the last few turns. It was probably one of the closer tandem races we have seen in the series thus far.  David and I were able to keep it together and rode a bit smoother on that last lap. We kept the pressure up and that got us on the podium with a solid 3rd place.  I guess 5 hours of "rest" helped us out after-all.  Tanytown, the MABRA championship,  is next week and we will be looking for a rematch against that Kelly team AND their time-trial helmet.
Photo by Baler
Photo by Baler

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