Woodstock Race Weekend

08 Nov Woodstock Race Weekend

Brian Conant (Pony Shop) always makes sure the race starts fast.

This was the start of a difficult three weeks for Enzo and crew. Friday come home and eat, start packing the car for Sunday’s Woodstock CCC race. Heidi and I will be heading to Peoria early Saturday watching Rachel race in the IHSA CC championship. A 3 hour 15 minute drive, which means I will need to be on the trainer at 6:30 Saturday AM for my pre-race ride. I have had two days off the bike and need at least 1.5 hours of ride time to prepare correctly.

One thing this old body does not like is going from riding the bike to riding in a car seat. By the time we make Peoria 11:50, I am quite stiff. We are meeting Nicole, who is driving from Indy to watch her little sister race. Funny because her back is also stiff, and we laugh how connected we are. Nicole and I run all over the CC course watching the kid, who runs a nice race finishing her CC season on a positive note. As a father if Rachel is satisfied, so am I.  We take pictures, give hugs and are off, back into the car heading home. Arriving in Barrington about 6:00, I put the last few items into the car for race day. Finally I can sit on the couch with my feet up. My back is feeling tight, which is not normal, so I break down dipping into the ibuprofen bottle, also not normal.

Scanning the tube, I find the perfect pre-race meal for the mind, free live MMA matches. Ripped crazy men that want to literally break each other for 15 minutes, then in mutual respect, hug each other. This entertainment is as crazy as it gets. Bike racing is just like this without the massive amounts of punching, kicking, and grappling contact. If you race, you know what I am talking about.

Sunday AM we are lucky to gain 1 hour day light savings which is nice, needing to be in Woodstock at 7:00. I have to set up the Enzo’s tent early according to Rob Curtis. This is the first of two CX races Psimet is promoting this year, and though Enzo’s name is not on the bill, we are one of the many hands in the support system. Everything goes smoothly with the tent set up, now I start to walk the course tightening course tape in all the crosswind sections. The wind is quite strong, forcing me to move stakes as to widen the course. Once the 40+ race begins I return to the Enzo’s tent, Heidi has arrived and is ready for free Embro Stick apps. This is her promo idea and it seems like the CCC racers are liking the quick warm up massage with their pick of Enzo’s new product line of Oil Stick (No Heat), Medium or Hot stick.

The day is going nicely and at 10:30 I slowly start setting up my bikes, not sure what tire pressure to ride on today’s track. I go out for a test lap in my street cloths and quickly remember how rough this course is. I adjust to a very low pressure setting, return to the car and change into my kit. Now warming up on the trainer, I feel average at best. I want to get back on the course checking if the tire pressure is correct. Good thing, because I over compensated needing to add a few lbs of air. Now feeling confident I set up my pit bike with the same pressure.

Staging for the 1-2-3 race has starting so I line up with the others. I am number 21, having zero points in this category. Ryan Freund and I are together in row three. Ryan is doing his first ever CX race. This does not seem correct him racing in the 1-2-3’s.  The USAC rule in place says he must ask for a down grade, being a Cat 1 on the road. I tell him to be careful on transitions since he will be going faster than his ability, a common mistake of fast roadies when first trying CX.

The pain of "Heckle Hill" is offset (a little) with spectators singing "Happy Birthday".

I have my work cut out for me; third row and Brian Conant (Pony Shop) in row one. Brian is a crazy fast starter and does not slow down much in the later laps. He is really fast on a CX bike and is a 40+ racer, which is good for the young guys to see. Just because you are old, does not mean you are slow!  By the time we make it into turn one I am about 12th place, sitting on Luke Seeman (xXx). The pace up the first hill is fast but not fast enough, and the leaders gain a few seconds, maybe 4-5. Nothing I can do about this but stay connected with the first chase group until an open section. At the top of the second hill there is a second split, which I am part of. I look back to see that we are a group of 6, I am third wheel. The lead group of four is 10-12 seconds up the road; I am going to settle in since this is my first hour race of the CX season. A few laps go by and we are down to 4 guys, I make a mistake at one of the single barriers and loose contact. I bring back one of the Iron Cycle guys and we ride together for 2 laps and I am able to drop him. I am watching Tim Yuska also (Iron Cycles) who is 10 seconds in front of me. Tim was dropped by John Gatto. I check the lap counter which says 4 laps to go and think it is time to start hurting, with only 20-25 minutes remaining, I need to catch Tim in the next two laps. If I can do this I will have a lap to recover before attacking him, gaining another place. Every headwind section and uphill I gain a few seconds, connecting with Tim we have 1.5 laps remaining in the race, perfect. Entering the barrier where I crashed earlier, Tim has a problem slipping his pedal, I nail the remount attacking him on the uphill section. Time for a hot lap and I drill it really hard for the next 5 minutes. I gain about 8-10 seconds then ride tempo in the fast sections, kind of on the gas rest, then go full gas in the difficult sections. The gap continues to open to the finish. As I cross the line I have to ask the officials if that is it, making sure I counted the laps correctly.  6th place not bad, though a few of the players were not racing today, I will take it.

Ryan had a little bad luck rolling a tire, he did not crash which is good. I would like to see more of him CX racing, but I suspect that will not be a reality. Anyway, the Woodstock race was fast, windy, hard and fun. I really enjoyed heckle hill hearing everyone sing happy birthday while I was deep in the pain cave. It took half way up that run up until I realized that people were singing. Thank you to everyone for that, it made me smile.

Thank you to Psimet and Rob Curtis for the awesome course. At first I thought it needed more turns but at race speed the course rode very well. Brian Conant summed it up nicely, quit complaining about the courses, it is the same for everyone, shut up and race your bike. I love this attitude, Brian is correct, all the courses are hard in their own way, it’s CX, not checkers.

Next weekend we are off to Louisville for the USGP. The following weekend is the second of two races for the Psimet crew, NORGE SKI JUMP CX RACE. This is a Saturday event featuring a new course, which is always a challenge. The NORGE Ski center is home to a 70m ski jump in Fox River Grove. This is private property so they will be serving food and beers. Look out, this could turn into a real Belgium CX event/party.

Until then, everyone stay safe, train hard, and race harder!



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