Monday, September 24, 2007

The Hurt never felt this good!

After spending too much time writing the previous post (stupid blog), I had to rush to get my butt and gear into the car for the drive out to Hood River. Lucky for me there were no Smokeys on I-84 as I did 80 the whole way. I ended up getting there with plenty of time. Had a chance to get in a pre-ride of the course and get a good warm up. It was the same exact course as the previous year, a mix of open grass, single track, some gravel and pavement. There were 4 barriers (2 singles, a double and a triple). 3 of the four forced either a run-up or one run down. In general I think this is a really good course for me, the single track is fast, and there are not a lot of sharp tight turns. I won the B race last year on it, so I felt comfortable going into the race. One thing I have to remember is to not let myself get psyched out by the other guys on the line. I see these guys that look like they are in great shape and on the most beautiful bikes with top of the line gear, and I just think they are going to whip my butt. Anyhow, I was lined up on the outside, as usual, and in the second row in a field of about 20 or so Master 35+ A riders. They set us off about 1 minute behind the Sr. Men. I got a decent start and after going through the fence gate I was sitting in 5th or 6th wheel. I felt really good on the first barrier/run-up and passed two guys there to move to 3rd. Then on the next straight away I was feeling strong and took the lead. I was thinking it may not have been the smartest move as I was sure Saturday’s race was going to catch up to me eventually, and if I did a lot of the work earlier on, I’d blow-up. At the same time I didn’t want anyone who got a poor start to catch up and wanted to get away as soon as possible. Well by the time we got to the double barrier with the long run-up there were 3 of us off the front. I unfortunately tripped on the second barrier and fell flat on my face, apologizing to the guys behind me for getting in the way. I got up and ran back up to second, and the guy I passed from Dioscovery Cycles was nice enough to tell me my chain dropped, so I was able to shift back up before mounting so the chain just grabbed back on, thanks Dude! I sat in second for the next lap, trying to get a breather as my HR was pinned. Coming in to the double barrier the guy in the lead yelled to his support that he had a flat rear wheel and needed a change in the pits, so I hurried around him and tried to take advantage as the pits were just up the hill. For the next few laps it was me and the nice guy from Discovery Cycles off the front. I think somewhere in the 4th lap I finally got some separation. I did notice when I could see behind that Martin Baker was moving up, which had me worried, as I know he is a good rider, so I tried to keep it moving. I was worried that Martin and the Discovery guy would work together and get back to me like the night before. Luckily that didn’t happen, and I started catching the end of the Sr. Men, so I had some chances to rest. After 25 mins I went through the finish and saw 8 laps to go! I couldn’t believe it, we had only done 7 the night before. I thought there was no way I was going to hang on. Luckily a few laps later it was down to 3 and then the next lap I got the bell for one lap to go. I had opened up about a 20-30 second lead and just focused on keeping it upright for the last lap.

Success and the victory!

Not bad for a double race weekend. It also leaves me undefeated on this HR course, ha ha. (note: I did not win in HR two year’s ago, but it was a different course).

Not to diminish the other guys in the race, but traditionally the HR race does not have the fiercest competition. Bravard, Divini and Butler were racing at Steilacom, and John McCaferty was not there, among others. Anything can happen on any day, yesterday happened to be my day. I know that some of the guys in that race can beat me. I just hope I can continue to be competitive for the rest of the season. But it sure does feel good for now. Except for my sore calves an hip flexors. I am not used to running anymore! I can barely walk today.

It does bring me to one point. Is there a time when someone who is of Masters age (35+) is considered to be sandbagging and should instead race Sr. Mens? If Shanon Skerrit lined up with the Master’s wouldn’t folks think he was sandbagging? I am sure this will be moot once the season is in full gear, but is there a point when a guy should “upgrade” from Masters to Sr Mens? Especially if he is, like me (36), barely a master?

In that theme I am planning to race Sr Mens at Barlow for kicks (in the butt), but will be back in Masters for the Cross Crusade series and USGP.

The Cross Curmudgeon