Wednesday, December 16, 2009

2009 Cross Nationals Recap

OK, this is going to be a long one

Check out the photos from Portland and Bend

The photos that are linked are from the Portland USGP and Nationals. Pretty easy to pick them out, Portland has grass, Bend has dirt and snow.

Things got a little crazy since my last post so I'll have to catch up. I guess I left off with the USGP recap so I'll go from there. As the Elite men were racing at the USGP the temps were dropping..... fast, and then it got colder. In fact, a record cold snap hit the northwest and the highs were only in the teens with wind chills in the single digits. We decided to hang in Portland on Monday and then on Tuesday 3 of us would drive the 8 hour trip to get the trailer and the other 3 would get to make the 3 hour trip to Bend with Lyne. The trailer was fixed when we got there and then we had to go over 8 snow covered, 5000ft mountain passes to get to Bend. Again, just like Wyoming, it was beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.

Phew......finally in Bend and at our rented house. This place was nice with a big garage to hold all of our bikes and assorted crap. We went out to get some food, our numbers, and check out the course on foot. The course was interesting, lot's of turns and fairly technical with the snow and ice.

Race Day #1: The Killer B's..... Interesting way to line up in the B's, by lottery. That means that they go by the last digit of your number. They draw an 8 and all the people who have the last digit of 8 in their number go to the line. Then they continue to draw...........and in my case my number was last. You got it, I am the last person in the last row of 150 or so riders. The race starts and I just sit there and wait for the riders ahead of me to get going. After that I just started passing people as fast as I could and all the time I could hear Bill giving me what place I was in, 60's, 30's, top 10, and then 5th? That one confused me, I had no idea who was leading but they said the leader was only 10 sec in front of me. I started looking and then the crashing started. In one lap I hit the deck 4 times and slid out 2 other times. This allowed the guy who eventually won to get past me but I had no idea at the time. The last 2 laps I got going again and stopped falling and again passed a bunch of people. At the finish Bill thought I was in the top 3 but nobody knew as they weren't pulling lapped riders and some guys were a number of laps down. In the end I was 3rd, and I guess at one point I was actually leading but had no idea. The race itself was fun and I knew I had good legs and a rest day before my masters race.
Speaking of rest, do you know how little rest a mechanic gets when the whole team is racing, very little. Here's the breakdown, up before anybody else, eat and load equipment in truck, drive to venue, unload truck and set up area, final check on bikes, check with riders during their warm ups for wheel and tire selection, air pressure, ect, race my race, work the pit for all other riders until the end of the day, breakdown pit, load van, drive back to house, unload van, clean and check over all bikes, eat and go to bed, repeat for 3 days. Now I'm not complaining, far from it. I love what I do, it's not a glamorous job but very satisfying to see the riders do well and the bikes work as they should. I should mention that I don't do this alone, Bill is the one that organizes what we do and we tag team most of the work.
Ok, the big one, Race #2 Masters 50-54 For me this is the best shot I have ever had at a National Championship. I'm riding well and the course is good for me. I'm in the 2nd row as the gun goes off and just 10 ft off the line the guy in front of me suddenly slows and I have to hit the brakes. Unfortunately the guy behind me doesn't check up and slams into me from behind. In fact he hit my bike so hard it pushes the brake inside the rim of the back wheel. Down I go and as I pick up my bike I find the rear tire is flat and it won't roll, the bars are twisted, so I throw it on my shoulder and start running. As luck would have it the pit is about 200 yards from the start so I ran the whole way to get my bike. By Trudy's account I was about 1:30 behind the pack when I got to the pit and took my bike and...............was totally gassed from running. It seemed like forever before I got going but I started passing people pretty quick. I was passing as many people as fast as I could and just like the B race Bill started telling me what place I was in, 60, 30, 15, 10, and then the chase was on. I could hear Trudy giving me time splits twice a lap as I started working my way through the top 10. On the last half of the final lap I got past 5th place and got within 7 sec of 3rd. 4th, not what I was hoping for but still not too bad considering what happened. I know I should be happy with 4 but for now I have a sense of unfinished business. The 1:30 lost at the start is about what the winner finished in front of me. But...........that's cross, things happen in every race and it's how you deal with them that can make or break you.
Overall the cross season was a great success for me. A couple of wins in the USGP series and a 2nd overall. A 3rd in the 40+B race and 4th in the Masters 50-54 race at Nationals and 3 straight wins at Jingle Cross. Thanks have to go out to Bill for putting me on the squad in a dual role of Mechanic/rider. It is truly awesome to be involved in such a dynamic program. Have to give a shout out to Jay, Kent, and Scott at Midwest Cycling/TREK Stores for allowing me to do what I do. Allowing me to use shop space to work on team bikes even though they don't sponsor the team is well beyond what other shops would do.
Special thanks go out to my coach, Adam Mills from Source Endurance. I've never used a coach before this season and at times I had my doubts about my program but I stuck with it. It's clear that the program that Adam made for me worked. As the last month rolled around you could see the peak coming and it definitely hit for Portland and Nationals. I can't wait for the road/mtb season to roll around to see what we can do there.
Oh yea, to all of you who followed along with our merry trip out west on Facebook, thanks for all the kind words.
So that's about it, cross is over except for a 3 local cross races and then start getting ready for the road/Mtb season. Between now and then it's time to hit the trails on the mtb.......see ya out there!


Cornbread said...

Awesome work this year! You crushed it the entire cross season. Congrats!

marc in bend said...

i was at watching my buddies brother take 3rd in that masters race, you were coming in hot, and would have passed a couple more dudes if you had one more lap. good job.