Monday, 19 November 2012

2012 Canadian National Cyclocross Championships Weekend.

Me and the mud. Photo: The incomparable Doug Brons.

What a crazy, tiring, emotional, exhausting couple of days.

This past weekend my cycling team, Daryl Evans Racing, was the title sponsor of the 2012 Canadian Cyclocross Championships. So naturally, myself and other team members were tasked with making sure that many aspects of the course were in shape for the weekend of racing mayhem. One might call it volunteering. I consider it an obligation, and a good one at that. For our small team, lead by Jeff Hanninen, I consider this obligation one of the best CX experiences that we have had the privilege to be a part of. Jeff was (as he has been since our first CX race here in 2007), designated as course designer and venue expert by Cycling BC. Since many Daryl Evans team members know this venue and the course so well, setup and teardown is becoming a snap--with much less direction from Jeff than in those first few years. It is a familiar racetrack, which has had few changes over its six iterations. Those changes have been made only to run a better course.

As an athlete/volunteer, trying to host an event and race a double weekend is taxing. Probably double taxing considering the weight and scope of this event. Fatigue sets in early even before the first race, and it is a matter of survival. At least, that is what it felt like for me trying to race the two days, stay late after the first race, show up early for the second, and stay late for cleanup on Sunday. All told, that left me with little in the tank.

Some positives and negatives for me came out of this racing weekend, day one, and some from day two.

Positive: Jeff Hanninen, Frank Ammirati, and Daryl Evans.

Jeff was our fearless leader. Frank was the backbone, and unsung hero of this weekend. And Daryl has been an amazing supporter of our team for the past 4 or 5 years now. It was really great to see him out there on both days.

I can't say how happy I am to be part of this cycling team, and how proud I am of our guys who race, push each other on training rides, and give up their time to make these events as great as they are. We are fast becoming known as a team that puts on a great race, which in turn, forces every other cycling club to up their game. And that is evident in many of the CX races that I have been to this year in the lower mainland. Just the amount work, time, heart, money, blood, sweat, and pending divorce papers go into making these races as special as they are is amazing. Hopefully our team showed that we can make a truly great event happen, even in late November when the weather is poor. 

As for Cycling BC, I have been critical of them in the past based on the Abbotsford Cyclocross race back in September. They were a good group to deal with and very friendly. For an event of this magnitude, it would have been great to have some media coverage and more volunteers to set up and take down the course. We  were really short on hands for the venue. Organizing these two things a long way out will make the event that much smoother, and make it feel like a real deal.  Results were posted in a very timely fashion--way faster than any other team has posted this year post-race. It helps that they all had timing chips. Without dealing with them directly, it is hard to be too critical. However, I did receive Bob Welbourn's number instead of my own for the BCGP of CX on Sunday.  As of Wednesday, that had not been corrected on the official results.  So it appears that I had a DNS, and that Bob finished third to last. I have contacted them about it, and CBC has told me that they are looking into it.  

Positive: The Start.

I was called to the front row for the Canadian Championship Race, Masters 30-39. Very cool. My early registration helped that effort, and I felt the pressure from being up there wearing the number 305. That is about the only positive from the race for myself.

Negative: Crashing. 

I crashed on lap two twice. First one saw me go down hard into the barriers Joey style, and land on my right shoulder. I checked out just fine, and got back on my bike to heckles. Coming out of a 90 degree turn at the south side of the park I went down in a washout. Both times I bent my shifter inward, the shifter stuffed full of mud and grass. To add insult to crashes, my chain broke on the last lap. I pulled the plug on the race rather than run the rest of the course, as I should have after watching Aaron Schooler do it on Sunday. I think that was the bullet in my cyclocross race season. It has been a slow, painful ordeal as I have tried to find form and fitness, but nothing has come for me. The running has never been better. But cycling?.....yeeeshhhh.

This season has been a hard one to deal with. High expectations, but no finish. I remember playing high school basketball and going into grade twelve feeling entitled to more playing time. My coach thought otherwise, and I sat for many of the first games that season until something clicked in my head and heart, and I started to play with fire and passion in my game. I played like it meant something. After that, things started to fall into place. The trust of my coach, team mates, and my confidence went up.

Last year the CX season meant something. This one, I think I felt like I could just do the same and the competition would be the same. I was so wrong. Learning experience. Dig deeper, train harder. Push further. Ride faster. Probably the most important thing is to be ultra competitve. Martin Bojenson and I have talked about what it means to lead a race, the effort needed, and how to put a strong CX race together. Simple, but at this point, I do not want to think about racing bikes for a while.

Positive: 6 racers that are top drawer, in my mind. All inspiring performances.

Bob Welbourn for the win!! Photo: John Denniston,
Bob Welbourn winning an emotional Master's 40-49 catagory to become National Champion. To quote my team mate Mike Dolling:

Bob started from the third row, rode up to the lead group, got a flat with three laps to go and dropped to tenth, managed to change a wheel and fight his way back to first place right at the end of the final lap.  That is an incredible performance in such a tough field.

Wow!! I could not be happier for a man most deserving. He is a true champion!! Much admiration and respect for one of the best guys around. I bought him a beer, and will do it again.

Chris McNeil and Martin Bojesen coming 2nd and 3rd, respectively in the M30-39 race. These two guys are rocketships and both know they are fast. They work and train hard for it in Kamloops, they push each other to the limit. On the flipside, they are humble, cool under pressure, and gentlemen to boot. The top step is right there for them, and next year it is even more of a possibility with Nats being back here in BC again. Well done boys! Martin--let your kids wear that medal. Kamloops represent!

Trevor Pearson. So close to having a junior national champ in our back yard, but a bit of a crash prevented him from taking the win. Coming off of a broken wrist, he had to miss provincials but was on fire during the championship race. 400m to go, and it slipped through his hands. Heartbreaking, but again, another fine BC performance for a young guy who handled his winning second place with grace. Well done Trevor!! He will be a force in the coming years if he keeps up with cycling. Coached by Andrew Pinfold, the kid is learning and racing very well.

Emily Sportsman. She picked up 3rd in the Female 30-39 Catagory. With a better start, and some more training (C'mon Em! Get on your bike some more!), she may well have won the whole thing. Awesome to see the athletes with kids killing it out there. Emily, Bob, and Martin.

Aaron Schooler. The guy is racing in 3rd, has a mech when his disc brake pads fall out, drops back beyond 8th, chases hard and earns fifth and a spot at worlds. Wow. Gutsy performance. He wanted it so badly. I should take note about his heart and his perseverance. Great job Aaron!!

Frank the Tank/the Streaker AKA Geoff Kabush. Superstar. He rode away from everyone. He showed everyone why he is 2011 2nd overall USGP, and one of the best rider all around. His performance was epic as he shattered the field.

Positive: Beer at a Cyclocross Race. And neutral support.

Dale Thiessen and me with the Red Racer girl.
I am officially a fan of Red Racer Brewing. This stuff was sooo good on a chilly day. Flavorful, cold--A great drinking beer. Super great of them to sponsor this race. Thanks so much again! Next purchase at the CBWS will be for some Red Racer. It is important to have local sponsors like you (and the Bike Gallery providing the wrenching) to help make this a budding pro event. If we could only get some media exposure, things would be even better.

Positive: The prize money for women.

Thanks to a last minute change, CBC wised up and became a progressive cycling body--one of the cycling worlds first--something that all others should take note of. Elite Females were paid out prize money on par with Elite Males. Well done! Thanks to Daryl Evans Mechanical Ltd. for kicking in the money for the purse prizes as well.

Negative: Crashing out my arch rival and all around good guy, Tyler Dumont, in the mud.

Tyler. Oh Tyler. I was tired. I was spent. I would never do anything to crash you out. Too much respect for you. We have had some good battles, but I was worried about your well being. I am glad to have had a bit of a sprint with you for the finish, but truth be told, my heart was not in the BC GP of CX race. The weekend took it's toll on me. We have next year to punch each other in the face with our bike rides. And all winter. I'm sorry for the mishap. Perhaps I may avoid your physiotherapy for the near future, so you don't sabotage my legs or something.....You are the best.

Negative: Racing with the dude who was wayyyy to uptight in the battle for 20th or something. 

He got all cuss mouth all the time on everyone he attempted to pass. This guy must be a wannabe pro roadie, wearing the green kit and 1999 Jan Ulrich Rudy's from Calgary, or someplace not in BC. I had never seen the guy, and don't care to. A simple internet search solves the problem of who his is, and he probably kisses his mom with that mouth. I got tired of his tongue lashing and rode away from him. Until my chain broke.....So much for former Provincial Road champions from Alberta.

Listen man when racing remember: in the Masters Category, we are not getting paid to do this, and 22nd place doesn't look that good at all in the grand scheme of things. Save your F-Bombs for work, for when the Flames lose to the Canucks (I totally can't use the Stamps losing to the Lions, not after yesterday) and your own family. Don't curse out on course, especially around kids and family. Especially when I pass way wide left and cut back to the yellow line, giving you tonnes of room to NOT DRAFT. Grow up, grow some, have fun, and learn how to race with class. The world has enough Mike Sayers. You have been racing long enough. Perhaps it brings out the worst in you. Take a page out of the aforementioned athletes. You make your Synergy Racing club look bad, and it makes for poor sportsmanship, JJ.

I will buy you a beer if we can talk about staying positive. And anger management.

It is, after all, just a bike race.

Results: Cycling BC