Monday, December 08, 2008

The End Has Come

Monday Morning: Woke up with a hang-over,mud crusted eyes, dirty cross bike in the garage and a sense of freedom mixed with a lack of purpose. Ah yes, the end of Cross season.

This weekend was the last two races of the year for me. The USGP of cyclocross was in town for two days of racing out at PIR. These races, being part of a national series, attract some of the best riders in the country, so it is a good measure of where you stack up. Being December in Portland, it normally means ridiculously muddy courses. Well, Saturday was not the typical December day in Portland. It was a sunny dry day, and with the exception of a big puddle and some nasty thick drying cement like mud in the moto-cross section of the course along with a couple slick corners, it was a pretty straight-forward, yet really fun course. The short and sweet version of my race begins with a horrible start, followed by some hard work all the way to a group of four fighting for 3-6th place. One guy got away with just over a lap to go to take 3rd, and I fought it out with Erik Schultz for 4/5th. In a sprint finish Erik took me by inches. I got Schultzed. Again.

Sunday turned out to be a cloudy day. The course was slightly different with a reroute into a lot more mud in the motorcorss section. Most of it that nasty thick stuff. So bad that I managed to snap my derailleur hanger on my first warm-up lap. Not a good sign. Thanks to some awesome help from Mark Madson at the Kona tent I was quickly hooked up with a new hanger and my race bike was working again. While we were getting ready for the race I said to Brian, who was in town from Kentucky for the races, that it would be perfect if it started raining right as our race started. Sure enough about 15 mins before our race it stared to rain, and continued for a good part of the race. It is amazing how a little bit of rain can change a course from pretty fast grass and tacky mud to an ice rink. As for my race, I had a better start than Saturday, going into the first run-up in 5th place or so. Turns out that was the closest to first I would get all day. Apparently not riding in too many wet courses this year meant I forgot how to race on slick courses. For two laps I struggled to keep my bike upright. I’d make a mistake, loose a bunch of spots, start to make some up and then repeat the process all over. I took one good spill that had me sliding twenty feet on my butt. Dropped my chain, and was passed by what felt like 10 guys. After two laps I remembered to just take it easy in the corners and put all my effort into the straights. That’s when I finally started to make some progress, eventually coming across the finish in 10th place. A very respectable finish to the season.

That all explains the muddy bike and crusty eyelids. As for the hang-over, well it should be obvious that if you haven’t been drinking much for the past three months, then drink three bottles and four pints with no dinner after a race, chances are you’re gonna be pretty drunk. And I was last night. And still was when I woke-up Monday morning. Haven’t felt this miserable in a long time. Yes, serves me right, but I was expecting to eat some food at the awards party but all they had was the meat variety, so I decided to make up the extra calories in alcohol. Needless to say I had a good time at the party. I won a pair of Mavic Mt Bike shoes in the raffle (I never win those things), and I got some SWAG for finishing 2nd overall in the Master A’s. It was also nice to be nominated for best blog post. I didn’t win, but whoever nominated me, thanks!

Now all we need is some snow in the Mountains because ski season has un-officially begun.