Man it's been fun though!
After DTLA (see last blog entry) we had our second Owens Valley Cross out at the "historic" Wilkerson course. Historic because this was the first venue for cross in this area beginning around 1996. This edition was no different than most in that we "enjoyed" loose, sandy conditions and warm, mild weather.
This one ended up being a three way battle between Simon, Tyler, and myself with many lead changes. I managed to perform a beautiful over the bars maneuver mid way through the race which left me chasing for several laps. Gradually I reeled in Tyler and found Simon within striking distance. Suddenly Simon slowed due to a flat and I sniffed victory, gapping Tyler and rolling in for the win. First one in a while for me!
El Dorado Hills
After working for a day up at Kirkwood ski area, I drove down to El Dorado Hills above Sacramento for another out of town race. The course was laid out on an abandoned golf course which is mowed and partially maintained for the northernmost section and overgrown weeds for the southernmost section. Course features included sand traps, some steep, long climbing, fun swoopy dirt roads, windy grass sections, and a rocky, bumpy uphill.
I lined up with about ten guys in the 45+A division in temps pushing 80F. I recognized one of the racers and knew we were of similar ability, so I paced the first two laps with him and his team mate in the third, fourth and fifth spots. On the third lap though I simply hit the wall and had to back off the gas a couple of notches. I got passed by a few guys although I started to recover towards the end, finishing sixth - out of six finishers.
After El Dorado I drove home, got up the next morning, set up the Warm Springs course with Simon & Co. and raced again! We once again raced at the Warm Springs venue (see prev post).
This time we had five at the front: Simon, Tyler, Andreas, Bill, and myself. With some long pedaling sections and a little bit of wind, the race became somewhat tactical with little groups forming off and on. Bill took an early lead, which Simon eventually closed leaving Andreas, Tyler, and myself to fall off their pace. I felt a lot better than the day before, but fatigue finally set in and I ended up fifth after Tyler put in a strong move on the headwind section that I simply could not answer.
Mary and I took a nice mini vacation, staying in Carpinteria and racing in Camarillo. The course was on the campus of a school for troubled youths with lots of twisty grass sections, some fast, bumpy dirt, a spin through a barn, sand, and a fun bmx section.
I decided to start conservatively, which ended up being a mixed bag. I definitely avoided blowing up as I had in some of the previous races, but I also got stuck behind guys who weren't as fast through the sand and the bmx sections - although they were fast and powerful on the other sections.
There were a few different guys I battled with during the race - which is always more fun. I even had the pleasure of out sprinting one of them to finish 12th/18 in the 45+A, which I was pleased with.
I was also pleased to spend some real pleasant time at the beach in Carp!
The temps were warm, as was the water, and the crowds were non existent. Yes!
Simon, Chris and I has scoped out the traditional Airport course after finding almost EVERY single tree in the area cut down this fall. We figured we could still make a go of it out there, so we did!
Frankly, I was really worried folks were going to hate this course which featured sand, sand, and more sand, with a few gravelly sections in between, but most everyone seemed to love it!
The boys started pretty conservatively, but when Bill bobbled whilst riding second wheel, Simon saw his chance and took off - never to be caught again. I tried, feeling pretty darn solid and riding the sand consistently well, but could never shorten the gap. Chris rode a great race and was a constant threat just a few seconds behind.
Here I am chasing Chris, in costume, near the start.
Most recently I headed "over the hill" again to race at Folsom in the Sacramento Cross series. The course at Lembi park is hugely fun, taking advantage of every hill, sand pit, and dip in the park. What's more the race attracted the top bay area racers, who had no races in their area that day, including the Master's world champion among other top national level riders.
With about twenty five guys starting, I managed to come off the back row to squeeze into the top half of the pack. The top five guys were simply way out my league, but I slotted into the back of a pack of strong guys and was feeling good when I dummied it up and tapped my brakes on an off camber and slid out. I managed to get up quickly, get the chain back on, ran up the hill, remounted and promptly bumped into a chainlink fence, which grabbed my lever, twisted my bars, and tossed me off the bike. Stunned, I was honestly unsure I was ok, I was even more unsure about the bike, so I pulled out. DNF (did not finish). My first DNF ever.
Ten hours of driving, about $200 in gas, hotel, entry fees etc, and around ten minutes of racing!
That happens. It's cross. Now I am even more hungry.
I'm regrouping, recovering, and checking my schedule.
I'll try to be more consistent with the blog here.