Boulder Cup Cyclocross Race 2010

The final run up

This past weekend was a double dip race weekend – the Colorado Cross Classic on Saturday and then the Boulder Cup race on Sunday. I had registered for the double months ago and had planned on doing at least one other double weekend to prep for it before the actual weekend, however the crud I got made me think twice about it.  I did a pretty good job of mind over body for Saturday’s race – Sunday morning however, I was really wondering if I was going to make it to the start line as I had a deep dry cough,sore chest,  sore throat, absolutely packed sinuses and felt completely dehydrated and hungry (not the way to wake up race morning 3hrs before your race!).  Several cups of hot tea later and a peanut butter bagel and I was feeling a bit more human.

When I got to the race venue, I knew I was going to be racing.   I was feeling better and the course was just too nice to be missed.  As I got there, the race before mine was just starting to line up, so I knew I had to hurry if I was going to preview the course.  ACA rules changed last week only allowing pre-rides during the first two laps of a race behind all the racers or at the very end after the winner has crossed the finish line.  I knew the course was going to be mostly grass with a healthy dose of concrete and pavement thrown in as well – I didn’t however plan for the dew on the grass.  During my first pre-ride lap, I was going down a technical section of switchbacks that went down hill.  On three of the corners, my rear wheel broke loose on the grass and whipped around, with me ending up sprawled on the ground for two of them.  As I got to the bottom for the last turn, my front wheel washed out and I went through the course tape, once again on the ground and covered in grass.  Not the best way to start out a race as I was now chicken in the corners and riding rigid.  To get over my hesitation some, I swapped out rear wheels telling myself that my more knobby rear wheel would get better traction so I wouldn’t have to worry as much. The reality was that it was probably worse, but sometimes you have to be irrational to convince yourself to quit being chicken.

Once I had psyched myself up a bit more and made a mental game plan – it was time to get to the starting corral.  I really wished I had had time to warm up more on the trainer, but there was no use in lamenting it then.   There were quite a few call ups and then the rest of us rolled forward to our starting positions – I was somewhere around row 10 or 11 (at least that’s what it felt like if not reality).  I was talking with those around me when all of a sudden we started our race; never heard the 1 min to go, much less the 30sec, 15, sec and whistle.  Somehow I managed to get into the groove of racing pretty quick and picked my way up the peloton fairly well in the opening meters of our race.  We had a fairly straight paved section under the finishing banner and then around a 180 degree turn and back across the parking lot, over a grass divider, and then onto the grass landscaped area.  This had a nice easy right hand corner on the grass followed by a straight and then a another 180 on an uphill off camber; this is where the pile ups started.  Rather than waiting for the masses to get moving on their bikes, quite a few of us jumped off our bikes and ran around the corner carrying our bikes and continued for the next straight and around another 180 before remounting our bikes.

The section that followed turned out to be the favorite part of the course for me.  We went down a descending straight that was slightly off camber with the fall line going to our right.  As we neared a small pond the course turned to the right along a hillside/berm, this allowed the use of the berm to turn the corner without touching your brakes (if you had the guts to do so).  Once I braved the line brakes-less, it was an absolute blast allowing me to rip down the hill in my top gear and whip around the corner and over the hill, catching a bit of air as I crested the top, and back down to the rest of the course.  A few corners and a couple dips later it was a mini-time trial (TT) up hill along a concrete path and then grass; by the time I got to the top of the climb, my legs were screaming at me so badly that I thought (hoped)  they were going to quit talking to me for a bit.  Then down another off camber corner, up another hill, more off camber decent and then a climb that was almost ride-able, but not quite for non-pro mortals. After the climb, there was a slight reprieve on pavement (with a great cheering section from my daughters and wife) before going down the wicked off-camber switchbacks followed by a few more corners, a short steep climb, then an almost 180 degree turn off of the berm and back up which led into the long run up with barriers.

Who could ask fro a better cheering crowd than this on Halloween?

During our race, the run up had double barriers that were quite tall, too tall for me to feel comfortable running over so I stepped over them and ran the rest of the way. (later on the first barrier was lowered some and the second barrier was lowered significantly, so quite a few pros bunny hopped it and road the hill – still quite an impressive feat!).   Once at the top of that hill, it was 100m to the finish line.

The race was going well and I was slowly moving my up the field until the third lap.  Just past the mini-TT area, the tolls of a low sleep week, having a cold, and racing the day before hit – my legs turned to bricks and it was taking myself massive effort to only be dropped by the group I had been mixing it up with.  I knew it was a bonk about to hit, so I backed off a little bit hoping to stave it off at least some – it worked, but there was a very fine line I had to walk for the rest of the race.  Looking back over my heart rate date from the race tells the story pretty well too – for the power I was putting out, my heart rate was about 20-30bpm higher than normal; a sure sign I was pretty cooked.   At this point I just focused on keeping in the narrow zone I had to work with and being as smooth as possible on the bike.  As the bell lap (final lap) came around, I was finally starting to feel a bit more power return so I was able to give it a good push up the final climbs on the bike and then sprint up the hill climb – once again putting me neck and neck with two other racers.  The only problem is in my hypoxia, I wasn’t sure if it really was the final lap, or if we still had one to go.  As I got back on my bike I started to sprint out, but the other two didn’t follow suit right away.  I immediately though ” oh damn, maybe there was still one lap!” , in that case, I needed to conserve energy, so I backed off a bit – and right then the other two took off full bore!  Back on the power and the race was on!  We could hear Dave Towle booming over the mic calling out the sprint, and I even heard him mention my name for being in a tight sprint both days (pretty cool having the voice of cycling talking about you!) As we crossed the finish line, I had beaten one of the guys for sure, but it was too close for me to tell if I had beaten them both; at that time I was too busy trying to stay on top of my bike and not puke from the effort.   As I came back around to the finish line, I learned that I was edged out by less than a tire width!  Dang, going to have to work on that some more.

After the race and some much needed recovery food and hydration – it was off to play with the kids as there were quite few things to entertain the kids as well.  I love that most all cyclocross races are very family friendly!   There was a mtn bike course setup by Avid4Adventure that Tana absolutely loved.  I think she spent the better part of 2 hrs running around that area on her push bike – no race for her this weekend, but I don’t think she was too bummed about it.

Going up the obstical

whats next dad?

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