Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend Roundup: Part 1: Brockville CX

CycloCross Brockville 2010 from Filip Funk on Vimeo.

It was a full weekend of cycling in Ottawa over the long weekend, with two great opportunities to put the cyclocross bike, or, in some cases, road bike, to use. First up was the Eastern Ontario Cyclocross Series visit to Brockville on Sunday, followed by Double Cross Monday. Each day provided its own unique set of challenges, trials, tribulations, and successes. Here's installment #1.
Brockville CX
A few things became evident upon pre-riding Sunday's course between races. First, it was clear that Bob and company did not have enough 'manpower' Sunday morning to create the number of turns they'd typically like to have. Consequently, long straights made up most of the course. I might be wrong in inferring that lack of boots on the ground was the root of this; if so, please correct me. I can honestly say that the course was one that all the riders I spoke to wanted to banish from their memories. I don't write this to be critical for the sake of being critical. Rather, I think that if in fact the course was as it was because there simply were not enough folks there to do more with the terrain, the solution is not to gripe, but to buck up and make sure enough folks get up extra early next year and pitch in to create a great course. I've already discussed this with others who have some pull in their clubs. If we want great courses, we, the riders, need to be part of building them.

Second observation from the pre-ride: the wind was sufficient to turn the race into a crit. Tactics would be key, and one would not want to ride alone.
Third observation: caliper brakes do indeed suck at handling grassy mud. On the climb to the finish line my rear wheel clogged up so bad I had to pull our handfulls of mud with my hand. I decided I'd have to run the climb in the race. Not optimal.

So how about a brief recount of the second race. The start went to plan, positioning myself in the top 15 or so within about 30 seconds, which is a good place to be, assuming no gaps form ahead. On the first set of barriers another rider strikes my bike as I suitcase it, and upon remounting I realize I am chainless, but not in a good way (as in, not like those days when you feel so good its as if you are riding 'chainless'). As I dismounted and replaced it onto the ring, the majority of the field passed. Meanwhile, the leaders rode away. So naturally, I took chase, and reeled in as many as I could, but there was only so much I could do. Negative thoughts settled in as I lamented my lack of tire clearance and wished it wasn't so windy. The tide turned as I got into a groove with Shawn Marshall, which soon turned into a rut as I spazzed out on a 180 degree turn at the far end of the course, again dropping my chain, and knocking both shifters in. Wow, sometimes it just pays to slow down and ride smoothly, doesn't it?

Shawn rode away and I wound up in a group of five good workers. We rode well together for a couple laps as I saw Shawn and Imad work together up ahead. Simon Smith passed perhaps mid way, and surged on, showing a lot of power. I failed to follow him and knew he'd likely take the win. After figuring out how to ride up the steep mud climb AND avoiding wheel lockup midway through the race, things started to come back together. However, I was not mentally prepared for the '3 laps to go' when I was banking on 2. C'est la vie, get on with it. On the final lap I found the will to surge and managed to gain three spots on the final turn and climb to the finish, which was the one effort of the day worth celebrating. Feeling quite foolish for failing to switch to my studded shoes, not bothering to apply embrocation to my legs and consequently pulling a quad muscle, and not working my embro into my lower back well enough to do anything (which played a role in the near-debilitating back pain that persisted the whole time), I didn't feel like I'd had a good day on the bike at all. Thankfully, despite things going poorly, I still managed to secure the 2nd position in the Masters A field, behind Simon Smith and ahead of Shawn Marshall, so its nice to know I'm still in the running for the overall points. It was also comforting to know that Neil placed 6th in the Elite field, showing very good form. Anna scored a 2nd spot in the ladies Elite field, despite feeling very much at odds with the course, while Mike Abraham placed 6th in Masters B and Jim McGuire and David Stachon rolled in together in 11th and 12th in the Masters A race. Great job on a painful course everyone, and congrats to all the winners!

This weekend I'll be racing at the big UCI circus in Toronto, so I'll be sure to practice what I've learned form my mistakes, and hope to do well amidst the very fast GTA Masters guys.

Part 2: Double Cross, to come.

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