Thursday, December 10, 2009

Day 3 Bend, Oregon

Day 3 at the USA Cycling Cyclocross National Championships dawned bright and sunny with morning temps again in the single digits. My race was at 1:00 PM which is a good start for me as i am not a morning person. This start time allowed me to sleep in and have a nice breakfast at the hotel. The plan was to get out to the course around ten, check out the bikes again, and witness one of the race starts. The race start in a 'cross race is critical. Folks that make it to the first turn have a decided advantage, as a cyclocross course will tend to stretch riders out and if you are way back in the bunch, its difficult to make up ground on the leaders. Tough, but not impossible. I once witnessed a last row guy in Providence R.I. race make it all the way to the podium. None the less, starts can make or break your race. Adam Myserson says that the sprint is at the front end of the race in 'cross, referring to the explosive sprint effort that takes place when the whistle blows to start the race. So i wanted to see a real race start so i could judge where a good line might be, or where a choke point might occur. After watching (and learning) from the Men's 30 - 39 age group race, i planned to line up on the right side of the starting grid and take a wide line in the approach to the first gentle left hand turn that went up a small icy hill and then took another left at the top. This pre-race reconnoiter paid off.

Another small detail related to quick starts is something that we practice at our training rides and that involves clipping into the pedals as soon as possible to be able to turn a huge gear to get up to max speed as soon as possible. In order to do that, clipping into the pedals is crucial to avoid lost pedal strokes looking for that spot to clip in. So just as the race is about to begin, my left cleat was completely clogged with ice and would not clip into the pedal at all. I quickly ducked into the Clif Bar tent area and got Rob Weubker and one of the pro mechanics to chop the ice out with a screw driver.... whew, another detail covered.

Now it was time to stage up.... The staging of riders was orderly and well controlled. Officials called up each and every racer by name. I was lined up in the fourth row, which is quite a change for me as the races i had been doing in the Northeast had fewer riders or points that i had accumulated allowed me a front row spot. I lined up way to the right as planned and waited for the whistle. It blew and we were off. My start was a good one, clipped in early, blew past some guys, went wide right as planned, avoided a small bottleneck, and went from 35th to maybe tenth. Yikes my heart rate was pegged. Guys were all over the course, weaving, crashing, crashing into the tape, crashing to the ground, crashing into me, it was cool. I settled into race pace and vowed to stay upright and not make mistakes. It paid off. I lost positions on some parts of the course but i was able to pull back guys in other parts of the course. I had a couple scary moments, one where i was suddenly sideways in the lane and then sideways in an opposing direction. That ticked off the guy behind me but, you know what? Go around me if you can. Another near crash involved a pass i made to get by a guy that caused me to approach this uphill shelf with a left turn at the top with way too much speed. I hit the lip of the shelf and the force knocked my left hand off the bars. I made the turn and kept it upright, but i was right on the edge.
I battled with four or five guys and we all traded positions often.

It was great racing. I ended strong and held off the one guy who had passed me at least three times earlier and i ended up 14th. Not bad. I was pleased. It was a great day of racing.

Paul Curley of Tauton Mass., a fellow Northeast guy, took the win in my race to add to his closet full of National Championship jerseys.


Anonymous said...

Nice work Dave! art

Steve said...

Great job Dave. Enjoy the trip home!

Tim said...

Awesome result Dave!

Anonymous said...

Way to go Dave!!!