Monday, November 9, 2009

Last Race of the Year Report

I came and raced hard
I sucked worse than I could guess
Happy for shut eye

I had trouble sleeping on Saturday night—Sunday's race would be my first race since the Aug. 20 TTT (wow, has it really been that long?). How would I do? I wasn't really too sure, but I figured I'd go out hard and see where I wind up. Hopefully I wouldn't blow up before the bell lap.

Sadly, this start line photo documents my time at the at the front of the pack. I went out had and stayed in touch with the lead group through the first 2/3 of lap 1 and then... f-a-d-e. Subsequent laps became a tough slog and I was passed and gapped by one rider after another. I had forgotten how much it hurts to race. It's a different kind of hurt, though, when you're fit. With Sunday's kind of hurt, there's no payback, except for the puking in the mouth part.

With 3 laps to go I started to feel a bit better and managed to catch and gap Cousin Thomas. That felt good. I was feeling like I was up for a strong finish, relatively speaking, when I reached the stair climb. Ungraceful ly as always (just ask Jonny G), I dismounted and limped up the stairs. Upon somewhat successfully managing the remount mount, put all my might into a power stroke to get up to speed. Instead of lurching forward, however, the bike hardly moved, protesting with a metal on metal squeal. Riding Mike's bike, my immediate reaction was "Oh, no! I broke something!". Luckily nothing was broken—I had merely kicked the rear right canti into the rim with my size 13s (I've often questioned the practicality of those cantis that stick out so far). As I fiddled to free the rear wheel and reset the brake pad, Cousin Thomas passed me. I couldn't catch him depsite my best efforts to reel him in before the end of the race.

All's well that ends well. I rode hard, and can now fully appreciate how out of shape I really am (and how quickly one can lose it). One unnamed team-mate consoled me: "Well, what do you expect after 10 weeks of sitting around drinking Guinness and eating cupcakes? At least you didn't get beaten by a girl, which is more than a few of those guys can say." Ouch.

I guess I'd better get focused on training—just need to lay off the brew and baked goods. Or not.

Brad was RRR's strongest rider of the day, and I think that's pretty cool. All season he has gotten the better of riders half his age. Today he finished in 4th place.

A mental lapse is all it takes to determine if you make the podium or not. That's what makes this discipline so exciting; you just never know what's going to happen. As I've heard said about cyclocross, "there are 50 things you need to do right to win, and that means there are 50 things that can go wrong." You can probably extend that list to 51 if there's a poker derby integrated into the race. That seemed to be Brad's downfall on Sunday.

He was up at the front with the race leaders, and looking strong as he always does. Today was the day he and Cousin Adam were racing for rights to a 6 of Belgium brew, so he had extra incentive to push the limits. According to Brad, he was able to respond to the little jumps in the lead bunch without any difficulty, but he would lose some ground after the barriers where he'd slow down to grab a card for the in-race poker derby. Noticing they'd gap him a bit on every lap, Brad didn't panic. Figuring he'd catch them and attack at the end when they'd have to stop and collect their cards all their cards. It wasn't until it was too late that he realized those ahead of him had no intention of playing cards—the poker derby wasn't a requirement (DOH!). Knowing he didn't play his cards right, the Joker cruised to finish just 43 seconds back of 3rd place. Makes you wonder what might have happened if Brad did't have a senior moment. Still, I'd be happy with that result.

Artur, who probably shouldn't have been out last weekend at the Provincials, but home in bed with a severe head cold was back and ready to test himself again. As with Brad, I didn't see too much of Artur after the first lap except on the out-and-back portion on the open field. After a couple of laps of cheering each other on as we passed each other, it was clear that he was completing his laps faster than I was though still not fully recoverd from the previous weekend.

Artur rounded out the top five, finishing just seconds behind Brad. A pretty good showing which actually works out well if you consider Artur's B Race finishes. Fifth at Bruce/Bourkvale, first at Supercross, Southern Cross, and Cross-Tastic, and fifth at Kildonan Park—it's a very symetrical 5-1-1-1-5 exceptional season debut for a guy never ridden competitively before.

A warning to Artur's competitors: Artur is now the proud owner of a cyclocross bike, so he'll be back again next year.

Michelle finished the season with another strong performance. Seeing her race has been fun to watch. After her first compeitive cycling experience at the Menno Cross race, she's used each event to get ride smarter, stronger, and faster. Her inital races consisted of full-stop dismounts, but she practiced her technique and fisished the season looking like a wiley veteran.

I had to push as hard as I could to stay ahead of Michelle. At the end I was suffereing and she was starting to catch me. I probably would have sat up and simpled ridden the final lap or two after my mechanical if it wasn't for Michelle breathing down my neck. When we'd pass each other in the open field her smile was simply disturbing. Here I was riding in the red zone and she's smiling? C'mon!

Michelle, who claims to be in mourning with the end of the 2009 race calendar, is already anticipating next season as she makes room in her garage for a XC racer. Now that she's infected with the BRB (bike racing bug), we look forward to Michelle donning RRR colours and becoming a regular in 2010.


Thanks go out to Hal, OCC gang, and all the volunteers that made the day a successful conclusion to the 2009 season. Your efforts are noticed and appreciated.

Thanks also to David Lipnowski for coming out and capturing all the riders on film and sharing on your blog. You make us look good, just like professional cyclists.

1 comment:

  1. As usual, nice report KK. Great to have you back in the mix. Next year, I'll move up to A and try not to get lapped.