Monday, November 15, 2010

Forced and unforced errors

I knew heading into the US Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Fort Collins, CO it was going to be a tough weekned. The New Belgium Cup featured long climbs and a fresh blanket of snow on Thursday night made for a sloppy mess come Saturday.

The mostly grass circuit was pretty interesting with lots of off camber bits, a massive flyover, and bone jarring bumps that made you wonder if this was what Roubaix feels like.

At number pick-up I was surprised to have bib number four. Which meant one of the guys in front of me wasn't here. Turned out just to be a mix up and I would indeed be lining up 5th the following the day.

The weekends goals were pretty simple. First beat Richard Feldman who was only 6 points ahead of me in the overall. Second, beat Mark Legg-Compton who was 30 points in front of me. Having not beaten Mark yet this year, that second goal was going to be a toughie. Of the top six in the overall, Feldman and Legg-Compton were the only two guys from altitude too.

And that's were the story begins. My weekend would be consumed by forced and unforced errors. Forced errors taken upon me by the altitude and the course conditions. Unforced errors made by my own lack of bike control.

We lined up for Saturdays battle royal with temps in the high 30's and what would turn out to be the worst conditions of the day. At the gun Erik Schulz grabbed the hole-shot putting his northwest Portland skills to great use. Behind there was all kinds of bumping with elbows being thrown left and right as we all fought for position. Within a lap things settled down as I found myself surrounded by Colorado guys without an altitude care in the world. I would spend most the day battling with Michael Robson but as we came up on one and a half laps to go the unforced errors would set in. As I was about to make the move on Robson one of the rough bumpy sections kicked me into the tape. The next lap and half were spent just trying to keep the bike straight as error after small error would eventually let Grant Berry by as I fell back to 8th place at the finish. I frustrating way to end the day but considering the conditions I'll take it. There's always tomorrow.

Suffering through day one
Image: Bryan Ganzel

I was really hoping for more on day two as has been the norm for me this season. The day started out much the same way. Elbows and shoulders flying left and right. Ankles ricocheting off of spokes. Pretty gnarly. The worst part, the lungs were gone. I think they say you start to fall off on your third day at altitude. My legs were good but I just couldn't push over the last third of the hill. Eighth turned to ninth, then tenth and the spiral continued. The only bright point of the day ironically came in the finally two laps, the same two laps that killed me the day before. I finally put my lines together, picked off one guy and was reeling in another when I ran out of time. My fastest lap of the day would be my last. 14th place.

Attacking the barriers in a not so attacking style
Image: Mitch Kline
The good news, I beat Feldman on both days and leap-froged him in the overall. The bad news, Mark Legg-Compton had an amazing weekend and is now leading the masters 35+ series. More bad news, Erik Schulz leap-froged me in the standings and is now just a mere 2 points ahead of me. We're set to have an epic battle on his home turf in Portland.

I learned a ton racing in these crazy conditions. I need some mud tires for one. I really felt like I was at an equipment disadvantage. I think I was the only guy in the first two rows without Dugast Rhino tubulars. But that's okay, this season is all just a stepping stone for the next.

Nate on the rivet, killing it during day 2
Number 1 pit girl
Number 1 pit guy

Pit straight mine-field, can you see the racing line? me neither.

Pain and suffering, the path to the dark side.


jono said...

What's with the two Black Lungs? Did somebody donate an extra to the cause? Is one of those Woodman's?

MOD 2.0 said...

Nate got his, we're almost like team, one phlegm and on black lung each.