Monday, 10 October 2011

Escape Velocity Lions Park Cyclocross: Thanksgiving Report

Escape velocity put on yet another edition of the Lions Park Race, last seen in 2009. That year, I raced to a 4th place finish in the now defunct B category, collecting a set of sunglasses and $20 in prize money. This year I wanted to better my previous finish, and thought that I would have a good chance based on my recent results. Having placed well at two of the last 3 races, I  went into this race with no expectations. I did my race day rituals as normal, warmed-up as always, and then thought that I could lay it all down on the course. Since there was only 5 days since the last race at Vanier, not six as usually, attending one Canucks home opener with my good friend Andy (turning that evening into a late night), and having one day less of recovery may have made for a bit of a slower race (Does that really actually make a difference? Possibly). What did make a difference on this race day was the lack of bodies at the Lions Park cyclocross race.

 EV decided to separate the masters 3s and 4s, the 4s starting one minute after the 3s. This made for a small field of 3s. Only 6 of us toed the line today in the Masters 3 category, a far cry from the nearly 60 at the last weeks Vanier race. The Lions park course was much like that of 2009: the same start and finish area was employed, the pea gravel was still there, the south side roots and trees were all there. It was déjà vu of 2009 right down to the weather: overcast and about 14 degrees. The course was not muddy, nor wet, but the many slightly damp 180 degree turns made for many out of the corner accelerations/ sprints. 4 warm-up laps of the course and I was good to go, if not a little underwhelmed by the turnout.

At the gun, Tyler, Tony and I took off to distance ourselves from the other three riders, Jeff being one of them. We managed to hit 40km/h on the grass of the park, but could not smash the group on the first lap. We all stayed together coming through the start finish area when I hit a root and decked it after the first lap. My front tire washed out and I went down on my right side, handlebars all twisted up. Niels Steiner was following and nearly ran right over top of me.

This crash gave both Tony and Tyler some daylight to fly, and sent me back to 5th place. Over the next lap I chased hard and managed to bridge up to the two lead riders, putting in close to 30 seconds on Niels and Jeff, and locking down third. On lap 5 I tried to overtake Tony on the outside going into a right hand 180 after hanging on his wheel for two laps. He managed to shut me down there, and pedal ahead, perhaps feeling the pressure to ramp it up.

By lap 6 of nine, the gap reformed between me and the two leaders. I had trouble maintaining my speed through the pea gravel, and lost a bit of time each lap from going out really hard at the start. This is where my week of training and late nights began to take their toll on me. With just before two to go, I noticed the dreaded “Fwummp!” from my rear wheel. I had blown yet another bead. Luckily I was right at the pits, if not slightly past it, and ran back against the course to change my wheel.

The wheel change was terribly slow. I had some trouble reattaching the brake straddle cable. During my slow change, Niels and Jeff both passed by. I managed to get going again, and had to hammer to try and regain my 3rd place. That did not happen, and I was forced to be happy with 5th or 6th place, 30 or so seconds behind Jeff. Once the flat happened, I lost much of the impetus to exert my maximal effort.  Deflation!

It was a little disappointing to have such a small field on Saturday. It was encouraging to have Niels, Jeff, Tony, and Tyler, some of the diehard CX racers around supporting the race. When they showed up, it did not really matter than there were no other races. Those guys are racers that I love to to toe to toe with and see who comes out on top. The race was still a fun go. Tyler mentioned that after the first two laps, he thought he was done and that he would blow up. The fact that he continued to push on shows that everybody’s elastic could snap at any time, it is just how long is a rider going to push on through the difficult times to make it snap for everyone else. Tyler did that today. He snapped our elastics first. 

When my elastic snapped, I kinda threw in the towel. Collecting two or more points from this race would have bumped me up to the Masters 1-2 category. In the back of my mind, I believe that I did not want to collect them at this race, and was content to stay in the Master 3-4 for another race. Tyler may not be so lucky because of his two second place finishes, and now a first, he may be upgraded. Maybe I am making excuses for myself and my inability to keep up today. As Ryan Trebon said in a recent interview with Colt on Cyclingdirt, "You are only as good as your last race". I made a few mistakes during this race and had a hard time settling in.

After the first race, I believed that I could win more than 3 races this year. This is proving to be hard, as each race day plays out differently, with different circumstances. I have been blessed with two high finished, and doomed with two flat tires taking me all out of contention. Perhaps I need tubulars? My bike prep has been better since New Brighton, my fitness is really good having raced 3 weekends in a row. No amount of training can really simulate a race situation and the stress you put on your body and bike. I will use the last three weeks to be super for Pumkin Cross.

A new Maxxis Mud Wrestler adorns my rear wheel right now. I will take next weekend off of racing, put in 13 days of hard training, and show up at Pumpkin Cross on the 23rd. I love that race, and my race prep for that one is to find a costume that will let me ride fast.

To add insult to injury, I did not start my watch, so I have no data to share from this race. What a day. 

Results and Pics to follow. In the meantime, check out these totally unrelated videos. Thank you for reading!

And, although it is old by now, check out Joey.