Sunday, 30 September 2012

Day 1: 2012 New Brighton CX presented by V.CX.C Race Report

Draft Report. check back for the full report by Tuesday:

Riding alonside Aaron Schooler. Sand hurts. Photocredit: Luckybiker.
New Brighton CX presented by the V.CX.C went off as the first race of a double header weekend in Vancouver on September 29th and 30th. These two races are only cyclocross events due to a bylaw that prohibits any bicycle races in the city of Vancouver proper between October and May. Kind of an strange, archaic bylaw, but that is how it goes. I guess nationals will never be in Vancouver, as was the case with the initial planning this year.

Matt Hornland and V.CX.C made some changes to the previous courses established by Team Wedgewood, making this iterition of New Brighton a more compact grass crit course, eliminating the road section altogether. V.CX.C utilized more grass within the park by creating more off camber twists and turns. The long sand pit that is a key feature to New Brighton was kept, only this time with only one go per lap across it. In my opinion, the course changes were for the better, even if the previous course played to my strengths.

The double weekend was a huge success as both events were well attended by nearly 200 racers and many other spectators. For the uninformed or curious, I think that what CX feels like while racing can best be described by the guy in this picture:

Mike Dolling. Really one of the best guys you will meet. Photo: Amir Shahrestani
 Yes, although he looks scary, he is actually having fun. Riding in sand, no less, which is not fun. The beautiful mug on this racer is none other than my team-mate hardman/englishman Mike Dolling. I think Amir nailed the shot here, and it is one of the coolest CX pic I have seen. Well done Amir!! Check out his shots here.

The look on Mike's face is one that everyone experiences while racing. We had great weather, so he should not be grumpy about that. There was no moisture in the unusually desert climate of the Lower Mainland this Summer and Fall, so really, why so down Mike? I will tell you why: because it is hard. It hurts. You get to taste your own lungs in your throat. Your muscles cramp. You go cross-eyed. You puke in your mouth and swallow it. And part of you dies. But then it is over. You recharge, you come back another weekend and do it all over again, no matter how bad it sucked, how many bike parts you break, and how hard you puked and bled during or afterwards. It is the most fun on a bike.

I have said this before, but in M3/4 I am used to riding up at the front. Now I ride at the back with a full gas effort silently saying "wait for me", and destroying myself in the process. It is a learning experience, one that is slow, but getting better. This weekends effort was consistent, I am getting the fast twitch working again, and am trying to put together a good race. It has not happened yet, but it will. My day started with a lame warmup because I was too busy watching my brother Aaron kick some ace in the Master 3/4 catagory, pulling out his first CX win ever!! Way to go little broder. Super proud of him and how he is racing: Smart and smooth. Some raw unedited video of not how he did it, but him doing it:

The other part of my warmup included crashing into the barriers because of a stubborn pedal that would not allow me to unclip, thus throwing me into the second barrier, surgically repaired shoulder first. I pulled my own personal Joey move, only I was going a teeny bit slower. "Captain" Morgan "Project B/ owner of the cutest dog in the world" Taylor was on hand to heckle me with a pre-programmed Benny Hill theme through the megaphone. I must work on barriers this season more. Shoulder intact, I picked up my bike and kept on going only now smelling like sweet, sweet grass.

Cornering and not crashing, although it looks like I will. Photo: Jeff Hanninen
My race me sucking the tail of the group again, and trying to gain positions and claw up to the Kamloops crew, eventual winner Chris McNeil, with Martin Bojesen in second. Kamloops has it going on with a strong, STRONG cycling community up there. They finished nearly 3 minutes ahead of me, so clawing up to them was never going to happen. Instead, I got to race against Keith Wilson, team-mate Peter Holzuter, and some other friendlies. Pete and I battled after he had a heart attack and had to take a dirt nap in the sand to get his HR back down from 238 bpm. This happens to him from time to time, and he knows how to deal with it by crawling into the fetal position and flexing his core. He lost many positions, but fought valiantly to catch me and take the sprint to the line. Atta boy Pete!! Way to deal with your own physical nightmares, and still finish, pipping me. Matt Drown rolled a tubular, having some bad luck on the course today after a couple of solid results from the first two races.

Yet another Matt, Matt Hornland and the crew put on a great course and a great race for Day 1. Aaron, Peter, and Myself were all left feeling tuckered out that evening. Better than a win, was getting this pic from my brother, showing off my sexy side. A side that I never knew I had, simply because I don't check myself out from behind (although I should start):

Running and biking give you muscles. Photo: Aaron Weiss
Riding sand is not my strong suit, and I definitely need some practice to keep my momentum going. I rode it cleanly probably 3 times of 7. I managed to lose time each lap going across it. Time that in a CX race, you cannot make up. Chalk up at least 7 errors in the sand. Not smooth at all. However, I did manage to get in front of these two guys, even if they were lapping me in the Elite 1/2 field give a two minute head start:

The only time I will be in front of Bob Welbourn this season. Photo: J.H.

The only time I will be in front of Andrew Pinfold this season. Not the only time he will pass me. Photo J.H.

The effort felt more consistent today, only I did not race very aggressively, had a slow starting effort, lost positions, and had a hard day trying to regain them. No crashes other than in warm-up. The body metrics tell the story of my own personal heart-attacks. Something that I love about CX is the flatline around 170bpm:

Body values are looking better. Good CX effort than in Abby.

The vuvuzela guy was funny and annoying at the same time. And extremely loud.

Getting Vuvazala-ed with a smile on. Photo: A.W.
Looking at the results, it is clear that I am not on form, although I am hammering the s#it out of myself during these races. My starts are slower than last year, something that I was strong at. The results are what they are. A bit of a disappointment, but hey, this is the next level up, and I am learning. I just have to get my head and heart in the game with my legs, all at the same time.

What I really missed was the bacon hand-ups in the race, something I will look forward too for next time. Only now, the price of pork is going through the roof, the weather is sure to change, and less CX'ers will be out to the upcoming races. Stay will us for a little longer, shoulder season-cousin of summer!

Thanks to all the volunteers, mother nature for the weather, and the VCXC/ Mighty Riders for putting this one on. Great job!

Railing corners. Photo: J.H.
Next up Day 2!