06 Dec Illinois CX State Championship Montrose Harbor
Chicago Cyclocross Cup Wraps Up
The regular CCC season is complete for 2011. The series was quite good this year with the main difference the new call up system. This revised system is not perfect though Enzo thinks it is very effective. It caters to the CCC series racer first, then the ranked racers, then the rest. Some of the visitors complain about this new system, this is what I have to say about that. The top customers are receiving the best treatment,
if you do not like the rules of society, go to another planet, or consider racing more CCC races.
Enzo must thank a few people and groups for their efforts during the 2011 CX season. If I forget to mention you, it is because I am old, cut me a little slack.
–Jason Knauff head of the CCC who has done great work for the CX discipline in the Midwest.
-All the USAC officials that sit outside in the pleasant and crappy weather conditions counting bib numbers, for giving each field the same speech 10 times daily, while eating poor store bought food that is mostly empty calories, most of the time with smiling faces.
-To the promoters that have gone the extra mile creating great courses and adding to the prize list which is not required.
-To the fantastic sponsors who fund much of the series. (A special mention for EJ Lenzi) EJ is the reason our kids race for free. Year after year EJ’s generosity helps build the foundation of the CX discipline in the CCC.
-And lastly, to all the racers that come and to play in the dirt.
Those who have followed the race reports this season know Enzo has been rating the courses. With the regular season being complete, I am free to give kudos, for the best race course of the year.
The race venue at Montrose has always been a great test and today it would be no different. Lake Michigan’s huge waves during the middle of the week created sand pits on much of the course, making for very technical difficult sections. The temps would be in our favor and the VW thermometer was reading 54F upon our arrival, about 8:00. Heidi and I set up the Enzo’s tent and I quickly changed as to ride the course once before the races started. This was a good day for a pre-race recon lap, turning around three different places, re-riding these sections until I found the fastest line. I also adjusted my tire pressures, front and rear, for maximum traction in the sand and mud. Later I would figure out I raced with too much air, one of many mistakes I would make at Montrose.
Seeing Ward and Brian upon my return to the Enzo’s tent, I asked how they were feeling and what they thought of the course. Ward said, “There is a lot of sand” and nothing more. Brian was going to ride another lap so I joined him as we exchanges line ideas. The fast line seemed straight forward with the exception of the main sand pit. This was a 3 foot drop off into 12 inch deep heavy sand. Riding this section was the fastest choice, but after many people ran through it, there were no real lines developed. I told Brian be ready to run this section in the early laps. When your heart rate is elevated and you are in the heat of battle, your brain does not always function well, so it is good to have a plan with options. Watching Brian and Ward in the 40+ race the boys are looking good. Eric(Village-Verdigris) has a 4 second gap with Brian, Ward, and Marc Moller(North Branch) in chase. Brian goes to ride the deep sand section, while everyone else is running it, falls and looses a few spots. By the end of lap one Eric has about 6 seconds and the group of three are chasing hard. I hear Eric yell to the Verdigris camp that he needs a bike change, with Tim Boundy running over to the pit for an exchange. Tim was ready with Eric’s B bike but he waved off the exchange. This turned out to be a critical error. Do not read this as criticism, when racing and having a small lead, it is very difficult to pit knowing you will be going back to the group. Eric must have felt the issue with the bike was not that bad. By the end of that lap he came into the pit but the gap had closed and Marc Moller smelled blood, attacking through the start finish area gaining a slight gap. Brian was not able to close the gap to Eric and the race was over. Moller wins his first State Championship, Eric 2nd, with Brian Karlow making his first State Podium. The contrast of Marc to Eric was painful to see. Eric won the 2011 CCC 40+ series wining many races by a large margin, today it was not his day. I am really happy for Marc and Brian, both having breakthrough rides.
Congratulations to all three of these boys.
Good thing I decided to race for a jersey today, being sick after the Norge CX and Northbrook race weekend. Being off the bike for 4 days and not able to go the Jingle cross, I lost my race sharpness. While still having good fitness the lack of racing for two weeks diminished my speed on the bike. Danny Warner won the CCC 50+ series, congratulations Danny. He would get the 1st call up, while I was in sixth place, still a first row spot. Staged and ready to race, the whistle blows and I have trouble clipping in, which puts me in 9th place through the first corner. I sprint to the barriers, passing a few more guys, remount quickly and now I am in second on Danny’s wheel, perfect. Now I will relax since Danny is a good bike handler and the next section is technical. I take the lead into the crosswind section but make an error going into the sand having to dismount and run, with Danny taking back the lead. The next sand section I smooth the fast line gaining the front once more. Now it is time, with the headwind climb not too far away, the gas is full on and I gain a small gap, though feeling crappy. I would love to ride a conservative race following wheels until the end, but with Bob Downs playing today, I do not have this luxury. The wind, tacky clay and sand are going to drain everyone; I do not want anyone drafting me in the head wind sections. I feel if they have to break the wind, this will even the playing field, giving me the advantage. I could go into the many problems I had today, but will spare you from the whining. The bottom line is I did not ride a very good race; I was weak mentally making many mistakes. If this had been a big race,USGP or Nationals, I would have been 15th-20th. I am grateful the win, but also realize I need to bust my ass in order to gain the sharpness needed to find podiums in the big races.
At the end of the day, Enzo is very happy. Brian Karlow reaches his CX goal twice in 2011, Brian Jr, finishes 4th with zero training, we finish 6th in the team standings with only 4 people racing, and gain 1 state Championship jersey. Ward staying in to finish off the season though having bronchitis for 6 weeks. I am most excited about Brian Jr’s potential, he may be the next David Lombardo, adding a little training next year, remember Enzo’s prediction.
Next week is the Midwest Regional Championships in Verona. We will be racing on the 2012 Nationals course, that is this seasons Nationals, so check for the GoPro video, I plan on using the camera again, like I did at Norge CX. Ask Rob Curtis about viewing the Norge CX footage, laughter.