The MABRA cross series came to an end at the Turkey Chase in Taneytown this past Sunday. I was glad I signed up for the race this year and even happier once I rode the course. It was a lot of fun.
Hosted by TEAM Fuji at the Taneytown Memorial Park, the venue made use of every square inch of the park and then some. The pancake flat terrain was very deceiving and the course designers threw in a number of twists, turns, off-camber hills and one run-up to keep us on our toes and working hard around the entire course. This was another race that didn't cater to any particular style of rider and had something for everyone. The dry weather limited the amount of mud we encountered, but, there was more of it here than at any other venue I've visited this season. Sadly, we won't have an epic cross race like the one we had at the Capitol Classic last year. Mud, snow and ice were not on tap and we raced under sunny skies and brisk Autumn temperatures.
Call-ups moved a few guys forward and the rest of us back a little. The pack was dense, but, I picked the outside line and that helped as we went into the first set of turns. I was on the right side (lower line) of the first off-camber hill and that helped move me ahead of some guys that tried to stay high. An inside line got me to the next section in good position and I picked through the crowd when the opportunity presented itself. The main group got strung out pretty quickly and it was hard to ride most sections in a pack. Single file through the tight turns, jump on the gas and pass before the next turn. There were a few open power sections to pass or get passed and I tried to limit any losses in these areas. I'd close down the gaps when the course became technical and hoped the guy in front would crack or bobble. I was running 15th on the second lap and was at the tail end of the lead pack. The second pack was about 10-15 seconds back from us and loosing ground as the race progressed.
On the third lap a rider took a bad line, went into the fence and took out the two guys behind him. I tried to sneak by on the inside line and got knocked down as one of the riders picked his way out of the mess. Everyone recovered quickly and I moved up a couple spots in the process. The lead rider slid out at the bottom of the off-camber run-up and I had to lock my brakes to keep from running into him. That sent me down and into the tape. We both recovered (again) and got to work on the next technical section before the road section and the timing table. We both gunned it on the road and were jockeying for position on the bell lap. He held his lead and I held his wheel. I managed to pass on the back side of the warehouses and he puled ahead near the ball fields. It was a good battle. We opened the gap on the chase group and had a few guys within striking distance ahead. Bill was one of these guys and he lost a few spots in some altercation a little earlier as well. They caught wind of our challenge, kicked it into high gear and effectively shut down our attack. Crossing the line, I was 11th overall for the Masters B race and 5th (again) for my age group. The top 3 overall finishers were in the 45+ age group as well. There are some pretty damn fast old(er) guys at these races.
Like Rockburn, I had a LOT of time to kill before the tandem race at 4pm. I passed the time the same way I did 2 weeks ago with a couple beers, talking with friends and taking some pics of the other races. Cyber Monday seems to be slowing down the internet, so, I'll post those pics a little later. The extra time did give me a chance to re-dish & true the rear wheel on the tandem, adjust the brakes, tension the timing chain and give her a proper look-over. The borrowed C'Dale was ready for her final cross race of 2010, possibly forever.
David was not at the morning race. He decided to sleep in and met me for the tandem race late in the afternoon. That meant my stoker would have fresh legs for our challenge against Padam, the reigning tandem masters. We rode around to warm the legs while the Elite guys raced. There were a lot of tandems rolling around the park and it appeared there would be some kids out there as stokers. A very cool thing to see. We lined up on the front row and were a little bummed to see the Kelly team of Connolly-Shiao (KBS/LSV) missing from the race. However, the Tom Tom club was there as was the AFC team of Blair-Driscoll. We got the hole shot and actually held the lead a little longer this time. As expected (I am a realist) Padam passed us and we went into chase mode. We were able to keep the gap a little smaller this time and even closed it a few times during the race. At one point we were right on their wheel with only a few turns left in the race. I can only assume they were toying with us, because they blew our doors off once we hit the road on the bell lap. The Tom Tom club was slowly moving up on us throughout the race and at one point I was concerned we didn't have enough course left to counter their advance. Once we hit the technical sections, we were able to put those fears to rest and could focus all our attention on the leaders. As we crossed the line, we looked back to see how far back the Tom Tom team was. Oddly, they were not behind us. One of the teams with a junior rider was in the third position, followed by another team with a junior rider. Off in the distance, we could see the Tom's stoker off the bike and pushing, as he has done in several other races. Mechanicals have plagued them throughout the series and kept them off the podium once again. However, this being tandem cross, everyone is a winner and they scored a nice bag of premium coffee beans. We got a water bottle. I guess we'll have to assign alternating weeks to share it. Hmmm........