The Final Finale

And the remount….

The season for me came down to this….BASP #4 at Coyote Point.  No Natz or Worlds for me this year.  Has anyone heard that we are in a depression?  Have you seen how much Worlds is?  You have to get a UCI license ($100), fly to Kentucky, hotel, monster car to fit the bikes, tons of food…and you might not even get to race the “real” race.  If your group is too big you have to go in heats and qualify. I’m passing this year.  I am going to have to save all my pennies and skim off my daughter’s college fund to get there next year.  Just kidding I am not going to save pennies.

So this was it.  A favorite course for me.  Lots of power stuff on this course – hill, sand and now this year a gravel pit.  Good for me.  After riding the last lap at Sacramento the week before with two shredded side walls I was out of tires.  Well, actually I did have two new Dugast tires hanging in the garage, but I wasn’t about to slap them on for one race.  I did manage to convince the local bike shop to let me “demo” a couple pairs of the new Specialized tubulars. In this case “demo” wasn’t supposed to me demolition.

Not sure the names of the tires, but one was for mud and other was for California.  For some reason I chose mud for the BASP finale.  There was no mud. Go figure.  I got a 2nd row call up.  My strategy was to go as hard as I can, blow up and try to survive to the finish without getting passed by too many people.  It started out promising.  I charged up the hill locking into 5 place.  But then Don Myrah proceeded to unclip causing me to crash into his calf.  I practically stopped and then had to get rolling.  Back into the pack.  Time to start scrapping.   Unfortunately I fell into place behind roadie-turned-part time crosser, Jesse Moore.  I really respect Jesse for his road skills, but he is not good on the dirt especially on the downhill.  If I had ever ridden with Jesse before I would have made the reckless pass like Don Myrah did.  I didn’t and suffered for it.

Chasing on…..
Chasing on…..

By the end of the first lap I had totally burned all my matches, but had made it onto the first chase group. Then, misfortune struck me for the first time of the year.  I flatted that “demo” tire on the uphill, halfway to the pits.  I rode that thing, slipping and sliding all over the place, for half a lap.  After getting my pit bike I put myself in the “red” over and over again, but just couldn’t catch the lead group.  I did manage to chop a Clif Bar rider in the sand.  He was in front and I was behind him.  He took the wide line around a corner in the sand because he was riding it.  I took the inside line and swung my bike near him.  That messed up his rhythm and he fell off.  Sorry Clif guy.  I am usually not that type of rider, but this day was not getting better.  BTW…I chose not to ride the sand trap, but run it…like this.

The beach…with angry Clif guy behind me
The beach…with angry Clif guy behind me
And the remount….
And the remount….

I did ride myself back into a respectable 9th place and an end to a successful season.  Next year upgrade to Cat 1, Natz, Worlds and basically do it all.  See you then!

Popping the cork

The podium at Lange Twins Winery – wine for the winners!

I have been really enjoying visiting some new venues in Northern California cyclocross this year.  The Sacramento series has usually been my destination.  I headed up to Lodi this past weekend for a race at a winery. What ?  A winery you say?  This can’t get any better, can it?  Oh yes it can…..

The wind was howling as I drove up and it was even worse out on course.  I had heard that this course has been used for 3 years and every year it rained inches of the wet stuff.  I could even see the hardened tracks from last years race.  Made for some interesting riding.  My hand was still bothering me and on these bumpy courses it hurts even worse; at least until the adrenaline beats the pain down.

My plan was to draft as much as possible, ala road racing, and then see what happens.  There was quite a large group at the start and I couldn’t resist.  I went right to the front to try and get a separation on the first couple laps. I went as hard as I could for two laps, then looked around and there were 4 of us left.  I pulled back to take a breather and by the 3rd lap we were lapping some of the A’s.  We were flying.  But then the problems started happening for me.  A lapped rider almost took two of us down and there was the separation for the front two, who just happened to be the two series leaders. Ugh….

I forced my fellow chasers to the front as much as possible until he cramped on the barriers.  That’s when I took off in pursuit.  Suddenly I saw one of the leaders off the back, Jude.  He was slowing down and didn’t look in good shape.  I told him to slow up and we could catch Jeff Mitchell who was the leader.  Jude thankfully obliged because I was getting tired of chasing him.  Once I went to the front though he fell off the back.  Turns out he crashed and his brake was rubbing.  Then, I noticed Jeff was slowing down too.

The top of the ramp where the trucks dump their grapes
The top of the ramp where the trucks dump their grapes

With 3 to go I caught him and like the others, forced him to the front on the headwind sections.  The last section was a paved straightaway onto a steep ramp where the wine trucks dump their grapes.  Pretty cool finish.  I punched it, almost swung too wide, almost hit a pedal, almost hit a pylon, almost, almost, almost…but not quite.  Hit the finish line and saluted the sky.  Beat Jeff in a sprint again.  Almost never happens in cyclocross but has now happened two races in a row.  Great racing with him.  They gave us 3 bottles of wine for winning.  That’s how you justify this type of racing to wifey, especially if she loves wine!

The podium at Lange Twins Winery – wine for the winners!
The podium at Lange Twins Winery – wine for the winners!

GGP – Shaken, not stirred

This hill isn't getting any easier…

If you don’t know what GGP is you must not be from NorCal.  That’s Golden Gate Park man.  Last weekend I was down for the debauchery of the Single Speed Cyclocross World Championships.  I am not a single speeder, but that whole thing was beyond crazy. I didn’t race because my Speedo was at the cleaners, but this week the “normal” people showed up at GGP to battle it out in the Bay Area Superprestige.

I got called up second row this week. They changed the course a little this year.  The rain made it tacky and this course us usually up and down, and up and down.  Hard one.  The start has been an uphill one in the past but this year we started at the top of the hill, which is where I made my first mistake.  I was in the wrong gear, so when the gun went off I spun too fast and missed clipped.  Then, I panicked because I had to try and catch the lead group.  I burned a ton of matches, but finally caught them on the steep hill before the start/finish.  Unfortunately one guy in the lead group botched the climb and there was separation.  That’s all it takes.  Four of us were suddenly “the chase group”.

The agony of the hill
The agony of the hill

The four of us rode hard for several laps.  There was a downhill barrier that some were hopping over and I had to run.  My hopping skills aren’t the best and it is my priority to work on it for next year. I am not sure 40 year olds should be jumping barriers.  We’ll see how that progresses.  I was losing time every time we went through the downhill barrier.  I hung tight until we hit a stretch of pavement and I went down.  I was more shocked than anything. It seemed like I slid forever.  More guys passed me and now my day went from bad to worse. I managed to pull my carcass off the ground.  Nothing was hurt too bad, just some road rash.  I thought roadies got road rash?  Lame….  I managed to drag myself to the finish line for 13th.  My worst finish of the season.  But now I am fired up for the last race of the BASP. My favorite course with just one steep kicker of a hill which I can just power over.  Can’t wait….

This hill isn't getting any easier…
This hill isn’t getting any easier…