Monday, November 09, 2009

Season 6 Episodes 10 and 11

The soap opera of my ‘cross life continues to unfold. Although I guess if it were a real soap opera it would have been canceled a long time ago. Can’t see the adventures of a 38 year-old bike racer even getting in the door for a pitch.

As mentioned in the preview from last week’s entry, this weekend was another double race adventure. Saturday was the Oregon State Championships race in Salem, fittingly the State’s Capital, also fittingly for the cross racing as of late, it was the third straight week racing at a fairground. Excluding the fact that the course terrain was so flat, the course designers made a pretty fun course, with lots of variety from dry dusty barns, running through a sand volleyball court, a motocross course and of course lots of muddy grass. Being the defending Masters 35 champion I chose to defend my title and race the Masters race. It was fun lining up with some of the guys I had raced with for the past two years. Erik Schultz has been killing it in the Masters this year so I expected him to be the main person to stick with, as well as Tim Butler, Tim Jones and John McCaffrey. Sure enough, from the start it looked like most of the above were in the front along with Doug Reid from Seattle who made the drive down for the race. After about 3/4 of a lap, Erik, Doug and I were a bit off the front heading into the barns. Surprisingly, the slipperiest part of the whole course was also the driest. The course wound through the Fairgrounds main arena that had about 4” of dry dirt on the floor, if you went the slightest bit off the main track you were bound to wash out. Even knowing this going in, I still lost a little in the first barn, then on to the moto cross track where I found out my front brake wasn’t working so good, resulting in me crashing in the first sharp turn and Tim Butler and Joel Wilson catching me. Over the next lap I almost got back up to Erik and Doug, when I almost crashed on the moto cross track again. For the rest of the race it was more of the same, I would open a gap on Tim and Joel and then screw up the moto-cross section were-in they would gain on me. Meanwhile Erik slowly separated from Doug who I never seemed to gain on. Finally I managed to open a bit of a gap on Tim who had gotten away from Joel. Feeling like I could ride it in on the last lap, Margi yells to me that Doug just had a mechanical and is just ahead. So I high tail it and catch him just as he goes in to the pit for a new bike with less than a lap to go. Fortunately I held him off to steal 2nd place.

The rain continued to fall Saturday night, setting Sunday up for some real cross. Throw in that Sunday was also the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championship (SSCXWC) and it was a heck of a day of racing. Too bad my racing didn’t live up to it. Had another miserable start as I found my rear wheel spinning when the whistle blew. I was about to call it quits after the first 1/4 lap, but seeing some Weaver and Steven Hunter in front of me kept me racing. The first lap was crazy, all the off-camber sections were just slick as can be. There was a lake of a puddle to ride through that had some bump in the middle of it that you couldn’t see but made it feel like you were riding a bucking bronco (Margi actually got bucked on her first lap). The race quickly turned into a race of attrition, and I felt like one of the attritioners (not a word is it?).

I managed to get away from Weaver and some others, and found myself on my own. In my effort to make up time on the paved straight, I had my head down and looked up too late to see a pothole. I pulled the front wheel up but the back wheel slammed it.

Score: Pothole 1; Carbon rim 0.

That made a crappy race, crappier, and really expensive. I could hear the rim creaking as I kept riding it, but I unfortunately missed the pit entrance, and as I cursed it out loud, Patrick Wilder heard and asked if I needed a new bike, I told him I had a green Kona and sure enough, next time around he was standing there with my pit bike ready for me and gave me a PRO hand-off to boot. On top of that he went and got a replacement wheel for the A bike in case I needed it again. What a guy. Didn’t get a chance to thank him after the race, so if you’re reading this PW, thanks! About this time Matt Fox had caught up to me so I had something to race for. We went back and forth for a couple laps. The last time he got up to me, he says “lets go get ‘em Scott”, then three seconds later I hear a grunt and crash and look back to see him down. I dug in and cruised to the finish to get pulled early so they could start the SSCXWC on time. For the first time I was happy to be yanked early. In the end I was 20th place. So sad.

A bright point of the weekend was Margi taking 2nd in the Women’s B State Championship race, she then went on to race the A women race on Sunday. Her result wasn’t as good but she was smiling the whole time. I give her a lot of credit, that was one of the hardest races of the year, not an easy one to have to as your first foray into the A’s. She’ll be killing soon enough.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Astoria, oh how I love to hate you

Or is it how I hate to love you?

Yes this past weekend was the Halloween double race weekend extravaganza at the Clatsop County Fairgrounds in Astoria. After a storm late last week, Saturday’s race was a good old muddy mess. Not the epic powering through ankle deep mud, but more of the slick as snot corners and rutted wet grass kind of mud. The type of race where you are riding along at a good pace and WHAM! Your front wheel slips out and you are sliding across the ground as the guy behind you yells out “Oh-Shit” as he tries to avoid running over you (Thanks Aaron!). I wasn’t thrilled with my race. After getting caught behind a crash in the first half lap and a couple other mishaps, I found myself in a similar position, on the outside of the points looking in. Spent the rest of the race chasing guys down and trying to keep it upright to come in at 17th. Not pretty, but fun none the less.

We spent the night at a hotel in Seaside, the Inn at Seaside to be precise. Got a good deal, $55 for a king bed and a kitchenette. We decide to bring Quinn the hyper-dog with us for the weekend since the hotel allows them. After a day of trying to chase bike racers he seemed pretty chill so we left him in the room to go get some dinner. (Note: While one would think that sushi 2 blocks from the Ocean would be fresh, it aint. ‘nough said) Anyway, we get back to the room and no dog! Seriously, we have a small room with 3 bikes. It’s not easy for an 85 pound dog to hide. We’re also on the 2nd floor, window was closed. What the? I head to the front desk and as I get there, sure enough, there’s Quinn tied up behind the desk! Turns out he freaked after we left and started barking and throwing himself against the door. Luckily for us the lady at the front desk was not only the nicest person ever, but also a dog obedience trainer! Seriously, I ain’t making this up. She went up, opened the door a crack, told Quinn to sit, he did, and she brought him down to the front desk where he was an angel, hanging out greeting all the guests. What an attention whore of a dog we have. But if you're heading to the coast, I definitely recommend the Inn at Seaside.

Back to the races. In the tradition of Sunday ‘Cross racing, it was decided to make Sunday’s race the Costume day, even though it was the day after Halloween. Wouldn’t expect anything else from Brad Ross. I had had great visions of being a Great White Shark, until I ran into technical issues on Thursday night. I knew that showing up to the Halloween race without a costume would garner the wrath of the drunken fans, so I had to scramble for a costume. I checked out Margi’s costume boxes (yes boxes) and found a pink long sleeve shirt that said Snow Bunny. Just add in a bunny tail and ears, and voila, lamest costume ever is born.

Luckily it was good enough to satisfy the blood thirsty drunken masses and even garnered me some ‘go Snow Bunny’ cheering. Unfortunately it wasn’t good enough to get me anything more than 16th place. The only thing I will say about the race is that I was having a great start, best first 50 yards EVER! Until I blew the first corner rode out of bounds and lost a good 10-15 spots. What makes it even funnier is that before the race Mike Benno was asking me if I preferred to be a starter or behinder, meaning do I like to get out in front right away or fight from behind. I said I prefer to start ahead but seem to keep killing myself and fighting from behind. Another self full filling prophecy! At least the race was a blast with all the mayhem and costumes.

This weekend is the Oregon State Championships on Saturday where I will try to defend my title. But to be honest with all the attention it has brought I will be glad to give it up. It gets old not being able to go out in public without people asking for my autograph or women throwing themselves at me. I won’t even go into the paparazzi. It’s a heavy burden being the masters state champ. So think twice boys before you try to take it from me ;)

On Sunday we are racing at PIR, the North Course. That will be fun if for no other reason than after my race is the Single Speed CycloCross World Championships, which means I can hang out, watch some racing eat some fries and drink a beer. Should be fun. Oh that and Margi is Racing A’s after her upgrade! Nice job babe! If you get slapped on the ass while being passed, it isn’t me, promise!