Monday, December 12, 2011

Geler Votre Cul & Limestone Cross at the Kiln Final Mac Weekend RR's

 This past weekend marked the final weekend of local cross racing, and the series finale of the MAC series.  After taking a month off of formal training and racing for anything bicycle related, I was getting excited for a fun weekend.  A weekend cold front (temps in the 30's at race time for both days) piled on top of a storm that dumped 3" of rain to many parts of the East Coast midweek could potentially make for some gnarly conditions.

I was the lone man from Team Lamprey / St. Lukes making the trek to Northeast Maryland, so after an uneventful 90 minute ride I arrived at Fair Hill, part of a huge nature preserve that was formally DuPont land.  It was sunny, but COLD and WINDY.  I was prepared, but worried about cold fingers and toes...which surprisingly were not an issue!  I had put my skinsuit on before I left to avoid changing in the cold.  Grabbed my number and hit the course for a preview.  The course was the most unique course I've ever ridden.  Something for everyone...two sets of barriers, a series of four logs, a steep/short/muddy run up, off cambers, sand, gravel, sawdust, single track through the woods and three trips through some form of structure!!  All totaled, you were off your bike five times per lap...and the lap times were nearly 11 minutes!

I had burned myself out, expecting too much of myself, etc.  So I decided today was total chill, just enjoy the day, be thankful to be out there and finish with a smile.  The start call-ups got a little hectic and somehow I got squeezed out, no worries.  I felt a little rusty in warmups, the lack of riding for the last month was was the 40 miles of running I had put in Tues/Wed/Thurs/Friday leading up to the race.

Off we went, I made a few good choices early and found myself top 15 in the field of 40+ riders.  Then someone bobbled in the mud in front of me, forcing me to stop and a good 10 or more riders to pass me.  Off to work I went.  I played "yo yo" with my friend Johan...I'd catch him, then fall, then catch him, then fall.  With two to go I found my groove, started consistently catching and passing people.
One of the 3 buildings we went through.  I'm tucked in behind Johan.
(photo credit
 With a lap to go I had just passed Johan and set my sites on two guys fighting it out in front of me.  By the last turn I was dangling just behind them, but came up just seconds short of them.

Last lap out of the sand area, trying to bridge the gap.  Would not be.  Note the soil sample on my leg warmers.
(photo credit
In the end I was 17th.  A solid day, lots of fun and got some of the rust out.  Went home and got geared up for day two.

Day two was only 10 minutes from home.  It's a cool venue at an old camp, located down in the valley which meant COLD and FROST.  I basically wore the same setup to stay warm, no wind today but cooler temps in the low 30's.  The sun was out, but only hitting certain areas due to shadows.  The course was tough, a few good climbs which got slippery, some hard/frozen corners and the rest was greasy, thawed out mud.  Plenty of corners that rewarded flow.

I didn't miss out on the call up today, grabbed a spot in the middle of the second row behind a few friends.  I hadn't felt too good in warm ups, feeling the lack of riding and the race the day I was FREEZING!  Game time came, and I put my game face (a big smile) on.  We were off, and I had a great jump and shift through the first straight...coming out into the first few turns in the top 8 or so.  Perfect, right where I wanted to be.  I think my tire pressure in my Michelin Mud2's was dialed in on my Easton's, my cornering was really helping me, and I was riding the two consecutive uphills well.  Three guys got off the front and I was dangling off the second group of three.  I tried to drill the first few laps to get some separation, focusing on just being smooth.  I kept checking the gap, and with two to go I could see Chad catching me.  I was consistent enough in the long run, keeping nearly 30 sec on Chad and finishing in 7th.  I was pretty stoked with this ride, my highest finish in this competitive field....and my first time in the money in a MAC race....sweet!  A check for $35 won't pay the bills, but it soothes the soul!

Passing "the kiln" before hitting the climbs
(photo credit
By this point the sun was out, temps in the mid 30's....just a beautiful day.  I loaded my stuff up, grabbed a beer and enjoyed some great cyclocross racing.  Got to chat with Johan, Joe, Fatmarc, etc.  I was on the fence about racing this weekend, thought I'd just go for a long run and put cross 2011 behind me.  I'm glad I raced....cross is filled with good people who like to ride bikes.  I'm glad I'm part of it.  I also want to thank the promoters of both races.  Cross racing in December isn't priority on many people's list, but for those die-hards, and the ones racing Nationals and Worlds, Cross in December is a must.  Props for saving the best two courses for the end!

Now to build up my running base in preparation for HAT50K and Boston in the spring....but I'm also going to mix it up with a trip to Masters Cyclocross World Championships in Louisville in Janauary....CAN.NOT.WAIT!

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