This was my first Chicago Cross Cup race of the season which happened to be held at one of my favorite CCC courses. This is a challenging track with all the trimmings, fast power sections, big trees, many off camber turns, roots in shady areas which are tough to see, and many bumpy sections making it hard on an old back. The new addition this year was a fly over which was fun for some of us, and dangerous for the newer racers. I will give the new spicy obstacle 3 chainrings, nice job BBVP & Half Acre Cycling.
On to the race, I could complain about registration not opening early enough for a proper warm up, but until I am hosting a race, I will keep quiet. As the top 10 finishers from Jackson Park are called up to the line, I am joking with Dave Foweks that USGP points have no value at the CCC, since I was not at Jackson Park and would not get the call up, earning the W in last weeks 45+ USGP in Madison. No matter, Bob Karlow and I are here for fun and fitness since our goal is to spend more time in the weight room this off season preparing for the road in 2011. Cross is an easy way to train while racing and we will only do a handful of events this season.
So the top 10 are lined up as Bob and I end up on the front row next to the tape so we will be fine. The gun goes off, I miss my pedal but manage to find the 6th spot coming into the first left hander. I had looked at this turn carefully in the warm up so I had a good idea we would be flying through because the exit was 10 meters wide so no reason for brakes. This is why it is called racing, because it is unpredictable as the guy in 2rd decided to lock up his rear brake pitching his bike into a full sideways lock up creating a huge chain reaction as I found myself on the ground for the first time this year! My 49th race in 2010 and I am crashed by a team mate. I hold myself responsible for not being more cautious knowing this person has a propensity for reckless riding, this will not happen again!
I am now a turtle on his shell facing a swarm of riders while on the ground, a fun scenario for some people maybe, but not me, you can have my part of this. I remount and return to the task at hand. I am about 40th and the group is going really slow, since the course narrows for a while. This sucks because the front of the race is going fast and I know it is going to take a huge effort to catch them. By the end of lap one I have moved up about 20 places and can see that Brian Conant is gone with a group of 8 guys chasing. I am about 30 seconds back keeping a steady pace, picking off riders when I can pass without chancing another ground and pound. Middle of lap 3 while connecting with the group of 8 which has blown up, I go to pass a rider in a SRAM kit, when he sees my wheel on his right he moves over 4 feet as to block me. This was a big mistake since being on the ground once today I was in full killer mode and used the undercut tactic which I suspect he has never seen before, down goes Fraiser, now I am closer to my team mate Bob. I connect with him and Eric, who is new to Verdigris this year, immediately going to the front of the group. I tell Eric to sit on and enjoy the lines as I up the pace. I see that Lombardo and Rhuede are about 20 seconds up the road, seeing an opportunity if we can bridge. I continue to pull for the next two laps dropping Eric while closing the gap to 10 seconds. I notice this whole time Lombardo is taking pulls with Brian and wondering if he knows what he is doing. I for one, did not think Chris could beat Brian heads up, as I yelled to him to not pull any longer, allowing us to bridge. Bob and i do not care about points, so if we bridge we help Lombardo.The problem with having to tell a guy how to race, is your opponent now knows what you are planning. That being said, Brian ups the pace with 2 laps to go they are holding us off, only gaining 2-3 seconds per lap. Bob asks me how my back feels and I bark, why? He laughs saying his is really tight, I respond, mine has been hurting since I hit the ground, that he should not remind me of this pain again, as we both laugh outwardly. Anyway, we are not able to bridge so it comes down to a 2 up sprint, which Lombardo loses. Funny how when you know the strengths and weaknesses of the players, it becomes easy to predict outcomes most of the time, that is racing. Bob and I cross the line doing side by side wheelies for 4th and 5th place. Pony Shop finishes 1,2, Brian Conant, Bryan Rhuede, with Lombardo 3rd. Nice going Pony Shop. Congratulations to Lou Kuhn and the Pony Shop Team, winning the 2 up sprint in the 30+ race as well. ButtonHole Chamois Cream users miss the podium, but had a fun time racing this event. I am look forward to racing CX through the end of October, when my down month will begin.
Next week, Dan Ryan Woods and another awesome course.