Sunday, 21 October 2012

Race Report - 21 Oct - Woolastook Cross

So all week I've been nursing a sore knee from last weekend.  I even had a slick sample of Spider Tech tape to try, but I f*&^'d it up - Lesson one:  Tape first, then embro.  Tape doesn't stick to embro.

Woolastook was a favorite of mine last year - minimal technical stuff, some wide open sections, and lots of grass.  I was really looking forward to this year.

Weather - 16 degrees and sunny.  Lots and lots of rain the day prior.

Course - Wet grass with muddy sections, 200-300m of double track (no roots thank god). 2 sand pits.

Bike Setup - XG tubulars 26 psi front, and about 26 psi rear (I say about because the battery died in my fancy pressure gauge).  I was contemplating going to my PDX clinchers (more of a mud tire) given the amount of rain we've been having...but I think the tubies were the way to go.

Start again was awesome.  I'm getting much better at these.  Big ring and 2-3 cogs down, take the extra 1/2 second to make sure I'm clipped in, then give'r.  I was very happy and feeling good for the first lap. I was trading positions with a few known fast guys guys.  They'd lead a lap, then I would.  Things were going well - until.......

I dropped a chain, but in a major bad way.  Somehow my chain found its way off the largest cog in the rear and got wedged between the cassette and the spokes.  My drivetrain froze up instantly.  Luckly, I had looked down and seen exactly what had happened.  Had I not and tried to pedal thru it, I would have wrapped my rear derailleur around my cassette and had a DNF.  Hopped off the bike and spent a minute trying to free the chain.  But in that minute, I had lost 4 positions.

The thing about cross is that if you don't have anyone to chase, you don't really know how fast you are well you were doing.  Before the chain suck incident, I was in a group of 3, and we kept a good pace going among us.  When I had the mechanical, I was all by myself for the rest of the race, so it was very difficult to keep momentum in my lap times.  I was in limbo - racing by myself, against my fitness level, not against anyone else.  I found that very hard to deal with.

The sand pits were murder on bike components.  First, my front derailleur stopped working.  I was stuck on the small chainring.  I also lost 10th gear on the rear cog.  My shifter was indexing properly, but the derailleur just didn't move.  My bike also felt 5 lbs heavier, especially out of the slow corners.  I also had to "ride" the brakes on the long downhill after the pits.  The first time thru the sand, i didn't.  I screamed down the hill and approached a slow, muddy technical section.  I hit the brakes - nothing happened.  Wet + Sand + Carbon = No braking!!  It made for an interesting section for sure.  For the rest of the race, I made a point of riding the brakes to clean them off, ensuring I had power back when I needed it.  It worked.

The worst section of the race - a double run up followed by the double track.  The run up was forced by barriers - had to dismount.  Then back down the same hill.  I chose to stay off the bike on the way down.  People next to me remounted, rode down, then jump off again for the next climb.  It wasn't any faster.  I heard the leaders were remounting the first decent then climbing the second hill into the double track.

Rock stars...that's all I have to say about that.

But that double run up definitely led to some screaming legs, where then were hesitant to not only clip back in, but then power thru the undulations.  Toughest part of the course for sure.

All in all, it was a very fun race.  The course was relentless and challenging.  I'm a bit miffed about the mechanical I had - I would have liked to have stuck with that group for the race.  Results to 10 maybe.

So far the Boyd Tubular setup is holding up very nicely.  Rims are still holding true and the Belgian glue job is bulletproof so far.  Very happy with the combo so far.

And the greatest note of all - finally won a door prize.  A small T-shirt for my wife.  She comes out to all my races - with the kids.  God bless her.  Its cold, the kids are hyper, and she gets to see me once every 8 minutes.  Love her to death.  Thanks for the support MJ - xoxox.

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