Saturday, October 13, 2007
Gloucester Day 1
Arrived at the course nice and early, like running down stairs on Christmas. A few other cars were there, including two teammates. So, after getting myself dressed and situated in the cold wind, I went out for a warm-up with Cort and Rich. It's always fun to explore a course for the first time to see what the designers dreamed up in their diabolical minds. The course was FAST. The front section was basically the same as last year. Except for a lot of bumps and one hairpin, it was downhill all the way to the water. They changed things up a bit on the rest of the course. You had to go into a steep lip left turn, followed by another really fast downhill toward the rock monument. This is where the barriers were located, as you had to make a short "climb", into a short downhill slop to a tight left set of run-up barriers. The barriers already seemed tall, but given they were on a slope they seemed taller. Downhill fast toward the rock, along the grass pass the pits, tight turn left, toward the rock, sweeping turn along the water, other end of the
park, a few turns, and into the sand. The sand had turns in it and was rideable, but also runable. Down past the pits and into a short uphill and hairpin downhill into an off-camber and the SRAM corkscrew. Fast along the baseball field, turn right onto the road, and uphill to the finish. Repeat.
At registration, I was told that I was in the 4th starting position, which put me in the first row of 125 guys (and evidence of a quick finger for registration). The start is uphill, so I worked out my gearing before during warm ups. Everything was set for a good start. Of course, I had a bad start, not being able to clip in. On a flat start, clipping in right away is not so important; on an up hill it is very important. I go into the grass in about 10th or 12th. Not horrible, but not where you want to be when the lead guys are gassing it.
I was able to pass some other people right away, powering through the downhill and flat sections. A group of about 5 or 6 quickly formed. With me toward the back. Cort was up front in this group, and I was about 4 or 5 seconds back. This is the way it stayed for most of the race, with me chasing Cort. The guys I was with peeled away, as Cort was leading with another guy in tow. I was trying desperately to bridge up to them to give Cort some help, but ended up stranded in no-man's land fighting the wind. I had two guys behind me and two in front. Somehow I always find the gap. I was surprised to see me in third place by a good margin. Coley kept yelling "You're 15 seconds back. You can catch them." Yeah, right.
I was riding when I heard Richard Fries yell "There's been a lead change". Uh oh. Cort went down in the sand. I didn't see it happen. But I could see Cort a short distance in front. If I could catch him, it would be a bummer to have to pass him after he led for so long. But, that dilemma never ended up being an issue, as I couldn't quite get there. Ended up with a fist-pumping third place.
Overall, I was happy with the race, minus the start which cost me a chance to be with the leaders. The positives were less breaking, no crashing, and keeping it pegged riding solo "against the wind" which was pretty strong the entire race. Negatives were my start, not being able to bridge, and my start. Another positive was the tubulars stayed on (Tim Johnson can't say the same). At the end, I thought I was going to start dry heaving, which is another sure sign of a good cross race. Hung out till 2:00 watching the other races on a beautiful day in Gloucester.