Sunday, November 23, 2014

New England Regional Cyclocross Championships 2014

Now I know why most people just call this race Fitchburg.  Thats a mouth full.

Unfortunately the 4/5 category is not a 'championship' category so we were not battling for the Champions jersey.  Not sure why that is, maybe a USA Cycling thing?  Just because we suck and we're slow means we can't attain Champion status?  I guess that makes sense actually.

Start of the SS race. Looking forward to joining these guys a bit next year.

Even though there was no sweet jersey on the line it was still a very well attended race particularly the 4/5's.  Max 125 pre-reg'd and I believe there were about 120 staged at the start.  I think that is the biggest field I've been in to date.  Lots of sandbaggers too.  Top 20 guys or so all had less than 400 crossresults points, some even had low 300's.  I was staged back mid pack at 56th.

Due to the flat and fast nature of the course and the large field sizes the promoters had incorporated a prologue loop for the start in an attempt to line things out a bit before heading into some of the more narrow parts of the course.  The last 1/4 mile of the course was a super wide (maybe 40ft?) flat grass highway so for the first lap they had us come through the start finish and then take a left instead of the usual right and we entered that last 1/4mi to drag race it out back through the start/finish and off to the rest of the course.

Because of this the promoters spent probably 5-10mins explaining that you didn't need to go nuts off the gun in the tighter finishing straight (with metal barriers on each side etc) because there would be plenty or room/time to pass in the massive grass highway.  GUESS WHAT HAPPENED????

Bunch of doods got tangled and exploded in the first 50ft.  Carnage happened about two rows up and to my right.  I was just able to sneak by the worst of it on the left but a few guys popped out of the front corner and collided sending one dude into the metal barriers. I just snuck by him as he fell over back into the course.  Crisis averted and I probably moved up at least a row or two in all the commotion.

Much of the rest of the day was a big ring hammerfest.  There were a few interesting features, small loose run up, an little up/down section on a small side hill with some logs to get over, small pinwheel followed by a chicane through a sandpit but the rest was all flat wide open grass.

I was bleeding spots most of the race.  Always in the long straightaways.  Luckily I had moved up pretty far in the start.  I would hang in a group for a bit, get dropped.  Catch back on at the run up or turny bits.  Hang with the group for a bit longer, get dropped.  Kinda went like that all day.  I was feeling ok and riding cleanly I just didn't have the mass and power to hang on those long drags.

At one point a gorilla of a dude came by me (must have been 250+?) going probably twice as fast as me turning a massive gear.  He probably hates hills but loves smashing guys like me on courses like this.

I was a bit isolated the last two laps dangling just outside top 30.  I was trying to catch two guys in front of me but was worried about saving some energy for the grass highway of doom.  And sure enough heading into that section I put my head down and tried to muster as many watts as I could but in the widest stretch probably 250yds or so from the finish a small group swamped me and just like that 4 guys go past.  I was able to get on the 4th wheel but I could hear more behind me as well.

We took a slight left (into a slight headwind) and continued to mash.  I was running out of juice and a small gap started to open to the wheel in front of me.  We rounded the last corner into the finishing straight.  I dropped a gear got out the saddle and tried to punch it but there wasn't much there.  I got back up to 4th wheel but didn't have enough to get around.  I had drifted right a bit and got a tad boxed in and a kid came back with a ton of momentum up the left had side and nipped me at the line. #whoops.

Lost 5 spots in the last 1/4 mi to fall from 35th to 40th.  Stings a bit, but considering I'm not built for grass crits at all and that I was predicted to come in 56th I still feel pretty good about it.  Decently strong end to the season for me.  I've still got Ice Weasels in a few weeks but I can't see myself taking that one too seriously.  What with all the beer and probably snow/cold etc.  Plus my training from here till then will consist of Thanksgiving and Thanxmas.  #foodwatts

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