Sunday, 23 October 2011

Local Ride Pumpkin Cross 2011 (or how to start at the front and go backwards fast)

Pumpkin Cross 2011 has just wrapped up, and for me it was less than a stellar result. The skies were blue, the sun ablaze, the temperature balmy, the course sloppy, slippery and slick. And me? I was completely average. Perhaps mediocre is a better word to describe the finish today. The effort was maximal, all that I could muster. Let me break it down for you. Read on!
The effort was there. I am pooped right out from this one. 

The Maple Ridge Equi-Sport Center hosted the many racers today, on a course that was completely flat, with a few step ups here and there, a number of 180s, soooo much wet grass and wide mud bogs, some horse jumps, and a maze of trees to test our skills. Mother nature was kind on us with weather, but the ground was a mess. Local Ride did this event right, and it is right up there with all the other CX races in Vancouver for how well organized it is.
Check out the horse legs on the horse jump.

In 2009, I finished 4th or 5th at this race. Elite mountain biker Greg Day took the win at that race smashing the field on the second lap, sandbagging his way to a win in the 3/4 catagory.

Today was another story. John Irvine, Mike Murphy, Ryan Newsome, Continental stinky jersey, and myself lined up in the front row. I missed my call up due to an extended pre-ride of the course. Catherine Pendrel was honored at the beginning of the race for her World MTB Championship win, taking home a pumpkin pie. For us, the only thing the CBC commissaire gave us was an abrupt whistle to start the race after he moved us down to the start 300 feet from the commentators tent.
Such a cool thing to race with a world champ.
I had a difficult time clipping into my pedals as I started, taking me nearly 10 spots before I was locked in and good to go. After that, I just bled positions. A fast first lap was taxing, and I maintained my position for that lap, until my 50psi tires managed to spin on the beat down flat bogs and soft grass. I thought I was going to just turn it on and kick it up a gear and claw back to the front. Thus, the switch was not working today. I did not have the jam to even flick the switch and turn it on. At all. At any point in the race, I could not go fast. Chalk this one up as an-off day.

This course was not a dirt crit, such as Aldor Acres and Vanier, where you could throw your bike into the corners and know that everything was going to hook up perfectly. Today was a course suited to a rider who could throw down some big watts and keep fighting in the slow and mucky conditions. John Irvine blew the race up with a crazy fast start and was powereing his way to victory of lap one when he rolled his tubular in the maze and  quickly pulled out before he could complete the lap. I kept fighting my bike to keep it upright, and lost time out of the corners where I came to a near dead stops, my back wheel slipping and sliding through the trees. Names over the loudspeakers were pumped over the grounds, and I kept on hearing the leaders like Mike Murphy, Keith Wilson, and Ryan Newsome. I was too far away from the action to be motivated to get up there, or to know what was actually going on.
Gene Simmons chasing me down.
When Gene Simmons passed me, I fought to keep on his wheel, but my body just was not having it. No matter how much determination I had, it was not enough to overcome my level of fatigue that this course threw at me. I could not respond to the level put down off the top, and continued to go backwards as the race wore on. "Lighten up and had some fun", I thought, and began wheelie dropping the horse jumps.


Catherine Pendrel caught me just before the end of the race on the last half of the lap, and we rode it in together. It was movtivating to follow her wheel. Today, I left my fast at home, and was just plain tired. Tired enough to not even look up at the lap counter to see where the heck I was in the race at any time, and tired enough to chase down anyone who passed me.

My choice of tires was the Vittoria XG Cross Pro Clincher, a step away from Maxxis this week in order to not blow the bead yet again. I will come back to them, but you see, me and the Raze have not been seeing eye to eye lately. We need a bit of a break. So I pumped the Vittoria's up to 50psi and tried to ride through the slop and slippy grass with very little traction. Mistake numero uno.

Mistake two, three, four, and five were: not getting my head into the race from the start, not watching the clock for when I needed to be at the race, not bringing underwear for after the race(--thanks to Winners for being open at 10am on a Sunday morning), and not showing up for my call up. Mentality plays a big part in sport. I look at the Canucks some days and think "They were not mentally prepared for this game tonight". It happens to all of us, and today the vampire bite of lack of mental prep sunk it's teeth deep into my brain.

The preliminary results are up and I am listed as 1 lap down, number 216. My number is 210. This sucks as it is a BC Cup and results should be accurate, but really, I was in the top 15 So the fight for 15th is on.
Happy that mess is over.

Today, I did not have CX racing in me. The next race for me is the joint Might Riders/Daryl Evans South Surrey Bike Park Race. We have teamed up with Mighty Riders, the punk rock-rebellious-Occupy Vancouver-meat eating-tattooed-street fighting-barefoot-Pabst guzzling-middle finger to the man-many wardrobed (how many jersey designs does this team have?)-car pooling-East Van-CX loving team to bring you a course I love and won on in 2009. I have hope to redeem myself and my season, as there are just a few of these local races left. Do I still have confidence in myself? Should I sleep more and ride less? Am I overtrained? Did I just pump my tires up to 60psi? Doubts, you all need to eff off and let me get my fast back. Two of the next 3 local races are DE's. I might announce the BC Cup finals and rip that race a new one, off of the course. We shall see.

Taking stock midway through the season, things looked good after the first race, mechanicals characterize the 2nd and 4th race. Highlights? The win at Aldor Acres, 3rd at Vanier, then the mechanicals. Who knows where I would have placed without the two flats.  Today was a bummer for me. Hopefully this was the anomaly race for the season.


Unofficially: Pumpkin Cross--1 Lap down.
Officially: Pumpkin Cross--13th Place.
Corrections to the results have been made! They can be found here.
Thank you Local Ride for a great day and fun racing. See you next year at Pumpkin Cross 2012!
Next time around, this will be me.