24 Sep USGP 2012 SUN PRAIRIE 55+
I am still jacked up on endorphins from the first hard effort since the 3rd week in August, so I thought why not start the race report. I had posted on Facebook earlier in the week how my form is none existent, only riding twice a week, and not for more than 1 hour at a time. I started to do harder efforts this Tuesday, but nothing longer than 1 minute, thus my Facebook comments about fitness, or lack of it.
Everyone knows about base building and tapering into race form, but how closely are people keeping track of their rest and recovery? TSS seems to be what people with watt meters are using as the rule these days. Let me tell you something, TSS algorithm does not consider mental rest, which directly translates into high performances. Today is the prime example, I will not digress any longer, I have supplied the off season ride times, you can figure out the amount of time I have been resting, resting my mind. Yes I have been walking up hills to the base of crags with 30-40 lbs of gear on my back, working the crap out of my core rock climbing with 1 or two short runs per week, not more than a mile, after my 1 hour rides. One other thing, going into a race with little expectation, realizing your plan is in place for a good reason, I will race as hard as the body will allow. This is a zero pressure scenario, no pre race mental strain.
Heidi was awesome to come with today, since I wanted to leave at 5:00 a.m. wanting to ride a few laps of the course. You see, I have not had a tubular under me this season, add a new bike, that has not been tested with full gas pace or technical terrain, I thought this a prudent move. Definitely not thinking prudent at 4:50 a.m., it was more like, wtf am I doing this is crazy. I will blame Joan Hanscom, Trek, WD-40, and the other awesome sponsors that saved the USGP for my early wake up call, laughter.
We arrive in Sun Prairie about 7:30 and park by the Team Wisconsin tent. Receiving an invite from Dave Eckel, The TW man in charge, thanks Dave. Dave introduced Enzo to all the CX racers on the team, cool bunch of guys, who we have sponsored for two seasons now. The TW tent is 10 feet from race course, a good place to watch racing while warming up on the trainer, I am getting ahead of myself.
I unload the(Trek Cronus) A bike, which has file treads on it, and take a lap. Wearing an Enzo’s winter jacket and jeans I roll carefully. By the end of the lap I am not convinced that files are going to be good today, the dirt is really hard and slippery, not much bite into the ground at speed. Back to the car, change to intermediate mud tread, add 2 lbs of pressure front and rear and out for another lap. Much better, this is going to be the ticket.
I go register and on my way out I run into Diane and Gordy, two of the nicest people in bike racing, and freakin fast too. Diane had just won another stars and stripes jersey, (Master’s Nationals in Bend) a few weeks ago, so I ask to hear the story. She was super stoked to tell me the course had her name on it. Not really, she said it was a great course for her, very technical, go figure that Diane’s relaxed attitude with the course, was an additional confidence boost, an increase that was bad for the other racers. Anyway I love hearing about great performances, a story well worth listening to. Congratulations again Diane.
The tone shifts with Both Gordy, Diane asking me about what I thought about Trek bike, since I now have one. They both ride for Trek Midwest these days. We confirm they are great bike and Gordy points out my brakes can be adjusted another way for more stopping power, cool. I will make the change later this week, thanks Gordy. Then he says Bob Downs is riding well, which I knew. Bob raced in Bend (Master’s Nats.) finishing 3rd in the crit, which is awesome. This also means he is still on good road form. Bob won the 55+ yesterday and I look forward to the test later today. I have lost to Bob before so no big deal if that is the outcome, he is a great CX racer.
Back to the car, into the kit and start riding the trainer, while watching the 2-3’s race. Ian McShane is in the lead group of 4 juniors. I laugh because the front of the race looks like a junior race, not a 2-3 race. 20 minutes on the trainer is good, I do not want to do to much and make myself tired. Now a quick ride over to the small field that I have used in the past for a few full gas mini laps, the real warm up. I need to elevate my HR into the mid 160’s a few times then the body will be ready for the rude awakening of a CX start.
Feeling open, I am off to the start line with one minute to spare. I arrive as they are starting the call ups, perfect. I am number 13, my lucky number. Really it is 513 but number 13 on the starting grid. I am happy to be in the second row, it is close enough to the front and I will make an early move if the pace is not too fast! The number 1 plate belongs to Bob Downes, but Bob is nowhere to be found, I am bummed, Bob was to be the litmus test, seeing how low my fitness is. Whatever, now for a change in the plan. I will race really hard from the gun, even if it is not prudent. The whistle sounds and we are off.
My first CX start of 2012, I give myself a 7 for clipping into my pedal. I move up to 5th, then rubbing a wheel which gets my attention, we hit the dirt. The first guy, perfect line on the inside lifts and is now going way to slow, I loose a few places. Screw this, I gas it up the right side taking the front before we enter the 180, the second turn. OK, the HR seems to be fine, lets keep the gas on and see what is in the tank.
Out of the saddle sprinting past the pits, here comes the first dismount, a double barrier. The body remembers this well, remount then I am passed by a Grand Bianchi rider, John Thompson is another first year 55er, and the two of us open an early gap as we trade a few pulls. When I was in front, John was showing me his wheel in the corners which means, he is better that me in the turns, or I was not going fast enough, he wants to set the pace. OK dude it’s all you, I settle in and attack him on the steep climb, my chain starts to skip in the big gear under the increased load. New bike has a few kinks. John says lets work together, not a bad idea but I did not come here today to go easy. I came to see what the old body has, what work needs to be added over the next weeks of training. My response to the work together concept, was to attack! First attack, John answers nicely. He takes the lead again and I can see third place is making contact, Bill Kuster. Second attack on the first hill, then smash myself on the steep climb, gaining about 3 seconds. Now for a hot lap, it is the test time, grab two more gears, increase the speed and remind myself to stay calm, stay smooth, no mistakes. I run the hillside strangler, going as fast as I can for the next 3 minutes. As I hit the stiff cross wind, I remind myself, this is my wheel house. Cross winds are a state of mind, increasing the speed again.
Crazy how good I am feeling, though my lower back is talking ever so slightly. I see the gap is about 12-14 seconds to the two chasers. Now I I see one guy closing quickly. I panic a little, asking myself, who is this guy and where did he come from? Having none of this I dig deep, if this guy wants the win, he will have to really earn it. I hold him off of another lap when Rob Curtis yells to me, he is a single speed racer. Duh. they said the SS winner passed everyone yesterday, that he is really fast. Nice old man brain in action, laughter. I let up from the suicide pace, I am caught and hop on the wheel, but this kid has crazy skills in the turns and I am not able to stay with him in any corners! I am totally impressed by this 32 year old racer and his bike handling skill set.
The race is mine to lose and I stay on the gas for the rest of the 40 minutes. Really happy with my lap times and completely surprised at the pace I was able to keep. This is a good start, I will chill a little longer on the intensity in my training. I am not race fit which is perfect. There are 16 weeks until Nationals, and it will only take 12 weeks for the body to be really sharp.
I want to thank all the really nice Midwest racers for all the kind words. CX is growing quickly though still a small group. I am always amazed by how we encourage each other even if it is someone from another team who is kicking our asses. Maybe it is because we all understand the amount of suffering CX racers must endure.
Thank you Heidi, you being at the race was really fun. Rob, Julie, Baron, Jen, Gene, Barb, Cory, and the rest of the Chicago CX racers in Sun Prairie, thank you for the awesome cheering and support, this is power that helps me go faster.
USGP/Joan and Crew, you rock people. All the timers and officials and sponsors, it could not happen without you, thank you.
A special note to TREK, thank you for stepping up when we needed you most! The 2013 Cronus is the best CX bike I have ever been on. I was giving away so much power on my Ridley, the Carbon Cronus’s awesomeness explains my relatively fast lap times today, with no training!!!
Until my first CCC race, safe riding and racing everyone.