Sunday, November 7, 2010

Like the PROs, Except the Fast Part: Canadian Cyclocross Nationals and Almonte Double Bill

Wow, look at this photo by mcadooja, its amazing! This hump led into a sketchy turn; it was exciting.
Great shot of Jamie by TorontoRob from Nationals
This weekend Jamie and I had the opportunity to race a double cross weekend, just like the PROs...and other people who race double weekends. Cool, its fun to live racing for a couple days in a row every once in a while.

Off to Toronto Friday night we went, slept about 6 hours, and were at the Arlington Arena just after 8am for registration and practice. We showed up expecting a fast course, and found a climby power course instead. Perhaps 'instead' is too strong.... A couple laps before the first race began was sufficient to figure out what we had to do: start fast. There would be little opportunity for recovery over the course, so closing gaps would be very difficult.

Warming up on the trainers for 30 minutes has Jamie and I good and warm, ready to line up. Since we'd registered almost last, we were staged in the back row, four back. Hmmm, no good. I knew I'd have to do whatever I could to move up fast. I tried, but didn't have much room to slip through as we approached the first turn, and ended up stuck behind traffic while the lead five or so opened a gap. With a great deal of discomfort I managed to work my way to 6th spot, and Jamie was only two back. The course featured three real climbs, on that was difficult to pull off rolling every time, and four additional short climbs. Of those four, three followed off-camber descending turns. There were virtually no corners that afforded more than a second or two of recovery, so suffering was the name of the game. Yes, suffering, I did not manage to maintain an altogether positive perspective. This came down to the fact that I was not able to ride as strong as I was riding before becoming ill just before the Toronto UCI weekend in October; this was and continues to be disappointing and frustrating. However, while I was not having a great day, Jamie was. Riding better than ever, he pushed it a bit into the barriers that could be approached at 30kph, clipped the first, and slammed into the second head first! He consequently lost three spots and any chance of reaching me. Bummer. In the end, I gave up a spot and lacked the mental and physical strength to chase hard enough, finishing 7th, two spots behind Shawn Marshall, and just ahead of Simon Smith, both riders from our Eastern Ontario Series. Jamie wound up in 12th, a very respectable finish, and his best performance to date. After getting lost in a mall on a Booster Juice mission, we were back in Ottawa for dinner, and preparing for round 2, Almonte.

Jay Heins caught us before the start, cool shot!
Muddy. Practice had our bikes dripping, and in my case, clogging. Riding smoothly would be the ticket, and there would be jockeying, no doubt. Off we went, and I found myself in the front within 75 meters. Oops, I didn't want to be there, what was I thinking? Perhaps that I'd like to see? The spray was intense.

See what I mean, my eyes are closed. I found keeping them this way kept the mud out. The only downside was blindness, but it was pretty much the same with them open anyhow. Photos by Kim, Fred and Felix
Check it out, Rodd and I are right behind Nathan! I was actually ahead for a while, then I guess I blew up. Or I just couldn't ride fast enough.
Rob and Jamie were right in the top ten, then Jamie pulled away, only to flat his rear tubular. He might have worked his way up to me if not for that.
Jim worked hard, and like everyone else, got worked.
It was not Pascal's day. He's been sick, and I think that might have played into his near-vomit. He packed it in with a couple laps to go; he knows when to say when.

Rodd kills it on his feet.

As Jamie tried to bridge up to Glenn Rendall, he flatted. This was very disappointing, as he was flying, yet again. Heading into the second last lap I got sideways on the descent leading into the barrier in the photo above, and rode through the rhubarb, narrowly avoiding a crash. By the time I reached the top of the run-up and ride away, I realized I'd flatted. That makes three rear tire mechanicals in the four races I've done in Almonte. Cursed? Perhaps. David's luck was perhaps worse though, as his pedal failed completely minutes after the start, taking him out of the race off the bat. I think we'll all want to right the scales next weekend at the Anvil and Hammer races. Despite our poor luck, Rodd put down an outstanding performance, pacing himself very well, and finishing just behind Nathan Underwood (who is an Elite, not Master), for what had to be second place, behind John Fee. I'm not sure where Rob, Jim, and Mike wound up yet; we'll have to wait for the results. However, I can see from the overall, that Rob may well have moved up to second spot overall, where I was sitting, behind Duncan Beard, as of last weekend. We'll see. It looks like the overall could be within grasp for a Tall Tree rider after all....

For more great photos, visit our flickr page.

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