Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sucker Brook Cross: 9.19.09

We loaded up the crossvagen and headed north to Argyle Sock's kick ass season opener in Auburn, NH. This race is awesome. Good vibe and a great course... especially if you like fast racing like I do.

The car was stacked to the gills, but performed it's duty admirably.

We got there too late for me to enter the 35+ 123 field as I had planned, so I signed on the dotted line for the 3 race. Headed over to the start as the 35+ race ended to see that everyone was already lined up for the 3s. Holt cr@p people like to get that early spot. We lined up at the back. 

At the whistle I started DFLish, but moved up the right hand side and got into the top 20 (50 or so starters) within 1/3 of a lap. Here's a tip for new racers: Keep pedaling after the first 30 seconds.. ya know, when everyone else starts to slow down.... just keep going and you'll move up. The start is a 60-75 second interval, not a 30-45 second one.

Through the first lap I was moving up steadily, and just after the start of lap two I was right around 15th. The race was strung out, but I moved up by outbraking everyone in one off camber corner and by cutting the tangent on another tricky up and down section that led to an uphill set of barriers. I improved my position on every lap in those two places. I spent most of that time following this guy, a messenger I'd have to guess based on the bike handling exhibition he put on prior to the start. Nasty skills, but about 15 minutes into it he disappeared.

With 4 to go I was 9th and just as I got to that lead group the eventual winner got off the front. His lead increased by 2-3 seconds each lap while I was slowly improving my position in the group: up to 7th, back to 9th, back to 7th, up to 5th, to 2nd, then eventually trading pulls with a guy from VT because it seemed that we were slowing down a bit. 

With two to go I put in a hard effort over the S/F line and shed our group down to four and had a brief thought about trying to reach the leader who was 12 seconds up. No one else seemed willing to pull him back though, but they were taking turns so I decided to stay put and give it my best shot at second. With 1.5 laps I attacked again to drop one guy who I knew to be a good sprinter and it worked. At the bell there were three of us gunning for the last two podium spots... the leader wasn't getting caught.

A bikebarn rider took the lead in the field and gave us a nice draft for a minute or two. He led into the woods and the pace wasn't insane: I started thinking that this would be a three up sprint to the line. On the second half of the woods portion of the course after the 90 left hand turn the CL Noonan rider turns it on a bit and passes bikebarn. I followed and was surprised that the bikebarn rider totally gave up his position. Just then the CL Noonan rider kind of slows down, and I stormed past him just by holding the pace that he had set. 

I kept that up through the sand pit and coming out of it I realized I had a 5 second gap. It wasn't that much of an effort, but here I was, away clear for second place after 20 seconds of hard riding. I checked back a few times, but they were done and I finished 2nd from the back row.

The teammates rode well, one had a flat, another just getting back to real racing after a year in the mid-west (sorry guys) and the third learning how to get into the cave. We grilled kielbasa and drank dark beer afterwards. It was great.

Here Kenny drills it through the sand. 

Next week: VERGE race #1 in WIlliston, VT

Thursday, September 17, 2009

huffing mastik

10 days until the first serious race of the season, and it's time to reglue the tubbies. My FMBs are on their last few races... They went on with the Belgian method (glue and tape together) so I'm leaving them be. The Grifo XSs had to come off to address a flat, and the repaired one is stretching right now. The Fangos pictured came off pretty easy on a glue-only job, I'm glad in hindsight to have pulled them off before they decided on their own when to go.

This is a sweet layer of glue on which to build. The base tape looks great too.

I can't wait for Sucker Brook this Sunday. It is our official pre-season here in NE.