Wednesday, October 7, 2009

What, no cupcakes?

Normally I write race reports from the detached persepctive of a (not very good) journalist.  Third person omnicient voice if I recall high school English class correctly.  This one's going to be a little different as, instead of actually paying attention and keeping notes, I spent my time cheering, drinking beer, racing, and then drinking beer again while cheering.  Foregive me if this goes astray:

The only thing missing at Gloucester was cupcakes.  It's entirely possible I spent too much time in the beer tent and missed them, but I didn't see a cupcake in all of Stage Fort Park.  But that's my only complaint. 

The conditions were perfect for 'cross with plenty of rain Saturday to create that euro mud vibe we mostly only see in videos, and then a mostly sunny day Sunday.  This created almost entirely different conditions from Saturday to Sunday, at least for the elite races.  When I was out there Sunday morning it was still a mudfest but at least the moisture was only coming from below, not from the clouds.  The mud that stuck to four or five hundred bikes throughout the morning and early afternoon Sunday was enough to leave a relatively dry course for the two elite races.  Here is the dreaded run up in all its muddy glory Saturday afternoon:

I couldn't race Saturday do to other commitments, but I arrived in G'ster in time to watch the last three races of the day (B's, Elite Women, and Elite Men).  During the B race, I ran into Solobreak Foley as he was coming out of the porta-john.  He had set me up me with some frosty beverage last year at the Ice Weasel's race so I owed him a beer or two.  As he already had a bit of a head start on me, it didn't take much convincing for him to join me in the Great Brewers beer tent.  They had EIGHT different beers on tap from eight different craft brewers, most of them local to New England.  My favorite was the Smuttynose Belgian-style single, followed closely by the Cape Ann pumpkin stout.

During the elite race, Solobreak and I were hanging near the fence at the back of the beer area.  A few laps into it, Jonathan Page had a commanding lead.  He thundered past us on one of the drier stretches of the course followed by Ryan Kelly.  Ryan saw my 1/2 full beer hanging over the fence and yelled "beer me!".  Solobreak credits Joachim Parbo for this, but it was Ryan (both were in red and white and covered in mud so it's an understandable mistake after a few beers).  Ryan was going considerably slower than Page since he had just been lapped by Page so he had no trouble grabbing onto the beer cup and he downed it before he was three pedal strokes away.  He then apparently abandonned the race soon after because we didn't see him again.  Ryan created (along with Colin) which helps me immensely with race announcing, so I wouldn't mind buying him a whole beer of his own sometime. 

If you haven't read a real race report by professional journalists yet, Page won the race by a country mile with moustache-less Jamey Driscoll behind in second, followed by Chris Jones.  In what seemed like a very short women's race, Natasha Elliot won convincingly while a new women on the scene, Amanda Carey, took second.  Lynne Bessette is out of retirement and took third place. Here are a couple of shots from the Women's race.  My cheap camera took a beating in the rain.  It didn't take long for the picture quality to deteriorate.  I think my camera is ruined, but that's a good thing since I have always hated that camera.  Good excuse to get a new one.

Series leader and race winner, Natasha Elliot.

Rebecca Wellons

Amanda Carey

Saturday's typical conditions, mudfest.

Sunday morning at 9:00 I took the line with the rest of the masters Cat 4 field.  Actually, I took the 8th line out of 11 so I figure I started the race in a bout 85th place.  I need to start pre-registering earlier for these things.  I had a pretty good start and passed a bunch of people in the twisty stuff after the pavement.  But then I biffed it on the section behind the building which I think was the slippiest part of the course.  My chain dropped off too, just to make sure I lost all the places I had been making up in the turns.  We did four laps through this section and I only cleaned it once.     

I normally have a pretty good sense of direction but this Gloucester course completely screwed with my head.  No matter where on the course I was, I could never remember what feature was coming up next.  The worst for this was the multple coils around the pits.  It probably didn't help that I didn't pre-ride the course. I could still go through Sucker Brook in my mind now 8 days later and remember every feature in order, but I couldn't follow that Gloucester course now without the course tape and it's only one day later.  Is it just me? 

Entering the final lap I was going back and forth passing and being passed by a couple of other no-hopers.  One guy had traded places with me a couple of times but I had the upper hand going through the start finish line as we got the bell for the last lap.  He came storming past me on the right and picked up a lot of speed as the pavement began to slope downhill.  It was just him and me at that point and I heard a little kid voice say "Go daddy."  I knew that wasn't for me.  My dog's smart but not that smart.  I guess this guy was trying to show off for his family and giving it everything he had.  He must have forgotten that he had to veer right into a bumpy dirt section with an off camber turn to the right.  I don't think he even touched his brakes before he blew the turn big time and fell hard.  I don't want to say he was screaming, but it was like a cross between that and a moan.  A deep manly scream I guess you could say.  He lied there crumpled up tangled in his bike and the white course tape he had taken out.  I nearly added to his woes, but managed to stop barely before running into him.  I waited for a couple of seconds and called for help until I saw a couple of spectators running our way.  Then I figured it was ok to get back to racing.  I found out later he broke some ribs and a wrist and was taken to the hospital.  Bad enough to get hurt, but to do it in front of the whole family must be extra painful.

I had modest goals for this race (as I always do).  I had hoped to finish in the top half of the race.  68th out of 86 finishers isn't top half, but considering all those that started and didn't finish, it's pretty close.  I felt a little better about my result after I checked the bib numbers of all those ahead of me in the results (bikereg and cross results rule!) to see how much the starting positions affected the race.  I found that of 67 people who finished ahead of me, only 12 of them started behind me (based on bib numbers).  I can live with that.  Using the BikesnobNYC pass/fail rating system for race success, I guess I call it a pass, but I hope to go better next week.

I ran into Adam Myerson as he was preparing for the elite men's race and we talked a few minutes about music and UMass before I actually paid attention to what he was doing.  As he sat in his driver's seat he had pulled his skinsuit up backwards over his legs.  I had to ask what he was doing but then at the same time he took out some safety pins (from his pocket, not his skin) and started pinning up his bib numbers on the stretched material.  How pro is that?  A perfectly flat number every time.  Maybe everybody knows to do this, but it was new to me.  It's going to be a while before I where a skinsuit (another 10 pounds at least) but it should work just as well on a jersey.  I can't wait for Providence!

Adam even pins up the pro way.

At this point I had completely lost track of the time, but I knew I was ready for a beer.  As it turns out, I got to the beer tent exactly at high noon and got the first beer of the day!  That's the one race I can win.  After a few minutes, some friends from my club showed up and we had a great time comparing war stories from our races while seated at the table with the best view of the course and the ocean. One of the guys had been doing well in the 55 plus race when he rolled a tubular.  He wasn't the only one.  I don't recall seeing so many rolled tubulars in a race as there were Sunday.  3M Fasttack seems to work for me now that I have figured out (the ouchie way) that I need 4 times more than I would use on a road tire.  I just doomed myself didn't I?

The women's elite race Sunday was another competitive and exciting race.  Natasha Elliot repeated with Laura Van Gilder finishing second on a flat (but not rolled) rear tire.  Mo Bruno-Roy was not far behind in third.  The biggest improvement of the day was probably Rebecca Wellons who went from 10th Saturday to 5th Sunday.

If you haven't seen the footage, the men's race came down to this.  People have been analyzing this like it's the Zapruder film and there seems to be some difference of opinion as to how agregious Tim's move was.  I'll leave it for others to speculate if he was trying to take Page out or not.  I can't really tell from the angle we have how much Tim slowed down when he got in front of Page and I think that is the crux of figuring out his intent.  If he slammed the brakes, it was malicious.  If he was just trying to scrub a little speed getting set up for the sand, I'm ok with that.  Remember, he was nursing a sore shoulder that clearly had been giving him a lot of trouble all weekend, maybe he needed to be a little extra careful going into the sand and braked more than Page expected.  As pointed out by Adam Myerson, Jeremy Powers showed a lot of class by not taking advantage of the situation with a big attack.  Watch the video to the end and you'll see that Page apparently puts a shoulder into Powers as he passes him on the flat section after the sand pit.  But they are getting pretty far away by that point so it's hard to say if it was payback for Johnson's move or just some frustration showing through. 

After the race the hurt feelings couldn't have gone too deep because Page was mostly all smiles signing autographs.  I got this shot of him with my wet camera.  He doesn't look like he is holding a grudge here, does he? 

Jon Page after Sunday's race.

What a great weekend of cyclocross, but I really wanted a cupcake.

P.S. - I'll be doing the announcing at the Maine Verge weekend on the 24-25th of October.  If you have read this blog, stop by and say hi, even if you think it sucks.


solobreak said...

Parbo, Kelly, is there really a difference? I want to stay out of the video analysis but I've not read of anyone asking why the published clip starts when it does? You know they had more and edited it out because it made someone look bad...

Ryan said...

1. I did NOT abandon, I was asked to leave the race by the kind officials due to my being lapped. Jerks. I paid my $45, I wanted my full amount of laps!

2. Solobreak - there is a significant difference between Parbo and I. He doesn't shave his legs. He's also fast.