Sunday, October 24, 2010

Mansfield Hollow and Stratton Brook Cyclocross Races

Last weekend was my first time racing cyclocross on both Saturday and Sunday (and Caroline's first double weekend of support and pictures too).  On Saturday I headed down to Mansfield HollowDam  Connecticut, right outside of where I spent two summers interning as an engineer. I spent plenty of time riding my mountain bike around the dam, so I was excited to race my third cyclocross race around a familiar location.  When I arrived I started to ride around and I heard a familiar voice yelling my name,  I turned around and it was the one and only Peter Hurst, my college roommate and stupid fast bike racer.  Pete and I enjoyed trying to annihilate each on the bike while on the U. of Michigan Cycling Team, whether it be on dirt or on the road, riding up a mountain or riding through the roads of Ann Arbor, we had some good times.  I finished warming up, and went to the line in the Category 2,3,4 race. 

Pete and I before the race
The race started and I jumped into the top 10, ripped a few corners, and bombed down a steep hill into a straight away, at which point it was time to start moving up.  I got into the lead group, and after the first set of barriers and a couple of quick turns I was feeling pretty comfortable, however then came the sections of straight away power sections.  Being a light mountain biker, I am much stronger on tight corners and quick accelerations, however when it comes to the flat power sections, I lose some time.  

Jumping the barriers
With about 15 minutes to go I was sitting in 4th place, and I saw a monster named Pete on the attack.  Pete is the type of guy I lose time to on the straight aways, and I knew that I would have to fly through the technical sections and try to keep him from keeping up on the straight aways.

Going hard out of a corner
With the final set of straight aways to go, I could see that Pete was coming up fast.  I decided to step on it through the final turns, and as I was coming out of the last one I went down, and Pete came around me.  I jumped on my bike as fast as possible, I managed to get back on his wheel, but the final 30s was a drag race, and Pete got the best of me!  I finished in 5th place, and had a great time, however it was time to get back home and get ready for the race on Sunday.

This time Caroline and I were off to Simsbury, CT for the Stratton Brook Cross race.  I managed to put in a nice warm up and ride about half of the course, and I found that with the plethora of turns and a 200 yard sand pit I had a good chance of doing well.  

The gun went off and it was a sprint to the first set of barriers, which were important for what was coming up next!  I got to experience my first pinwheel!  A pinwheel is a circular obstacle in which you ride into a big spiral (thick of flushing a toilet) and when you get in the middle you turn around, and spiral back out!  They are awesome to say the least! This is pictured below.


After the spiral I was sitting in 2nd place, and when we got into a straight away a racer attacked from behind, I immediately jumped around the guy ahead of me and onto the attackers wheel, after a minute it was down to him and I.  We rode together for the first 3 laps of 5, and when we got to the sand pit I had mentioned before, I put in an attack! (as seen below)

The winning move (nice picture Caroline)
I powered through the beach like sand, and kept up the pace through the next few sections, and when I turned around I had put a nice gap on the second place racer.  
Flying Solo to the victory

I kept the pace high for the remaining laps and came across the line first, for my first cyclocross victory!

I enjoyed racing both Saturday and Sunday, and to finish in 5th one day and win the next I was really excited about how the races went.  Caroline also had a good time, and took some great pictures, so we are looking forward to more double headers in the future.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Crossin for Canines

It was a 90 degree day in the middle of September, the perfect way to start my cross career.  I had gotten my cross bike on Saturday, rode it once or twice, and it was now a week later and I was lined up to race the the Category 3-4 cyclocross race for a bunch of dogs (hence the Crossin for Canines).  So needless to say I could have used a little more practice time, but sometimes you have to jump right in.

The gun went off and the group surged forward, I made a few quick passes before the first corner, and was sitting in  about 3rd place.  I kept this up, and when the first hill came I jumped ahead and was leading the race.  We started entering some barriers and corners, and at this point a few guys started coming around me.  I watched them flow through corners and glide over barriers, and then I tried to follow suit, however I sort of made it through corners, forgot which way to swing my legs over barriers, but either way I was racing!

This continued for 45 minutes, with me trying my best to get through corners and over barriers and during this time I was baked in the heat, but I crossed the line in 4th place.

It was a great first experience, and since the race I have gotten more practice, and feel much better on the bike, as you will see in the following posts!