Sunday, November 9, 2008

Squadra Colorado Springs

Bike dorks, we are. Sander, Chris W, Jim and myself headed up to On the Cross at the Chatfield Rez in South Denver yesterday. We're all sporting our Srammie team kits, nervously running around, prepping for our 45 minutes of pain, laughing and poking fun at why we get so amped for a race when for the most part , we'll just be getting in the way of faster riders.

Personally, yesterday was pure bliss. The course flowed like no-other I've ever ridden. Organizers were extremely creative using some pretty flat terrain, There was a decent amount of barrier work, some long winding sections of tight paved bike path cutting into even tighter sections of buff and bermed singletrack.....if you fell asleep at the wheel, there were dues to pay and I witnessed more than a few.

I felt super relaxed at the start, since the past 4 races haven't really played out as planned I just wanted to sit back a bit and work the race from the back. I was chatting it up with Rich from Frites en Mayo who I hadn't seen much at all this season. ( "Good to see you again, I'm glad you're back ! ") Our field was a bit smaller than usual, I think a result of an absurd new schedule this season of forcing us "old" guys to race first thing in the morning and Juniors going in the late afternoon. Thankfully I'm not a parent of one of these kids who's stewing in their hormones all day, waiting to unleash their entire days' worth of pent up energy. It's no mystery that kids who are racing will be up at dawn filling their bottles and gear bags so, let them race early and us old guys with our creaky knees and lame backs wait until the sun is a little higher in the sky to warm our cold's nature's way, we need the old schedule back.. I'm done ranting.

The whistle goes off and I immediately realize that I should have scoped out the start. There are huge bomb holes in the middle of this dirt road and I'm hitting them so hard and can barely pedal. There's no space to get out and move to the left or right and get onto some smoother terrain. Then, a super sharp right hander into singletrack and an immediate bottleneck. I'm pretty sure I'm still way back so just play it out and see how many guys I can pass without blowing up or stacking it. I felt super good, bike was flawless, I had heaps of power and barrier sections were buttery. Then I realized following closely to another rider in front of me that I had pinned my number of the wrong side ( rookie! ) and probably wasn't being counted through the start/finish area. Minor panic attack though really, it doesn't matter that much and if I keep thinking about this I'm going to fly off the course into the trees. so back to focusing on the trail and finishing. The course was so long we had completed only 4 laps in 45minutes, I pulled off the side immediately after finishing and the ACA official nodded that indeed, my placing was noted despite my not paying attention to where my number should have been pinned. 22st place. I'll take it...

I spent my cool down riding with Chris W. who was warming up for his second-ever cross race. The first one didn't pan out so well at Bear Creek in the Springs, when he literally flatted 100 meters off the start without a spare set of wheels. It was over before it began and the disappointment was clear. Today, he was feeling great, the course suited him perfectly, not super technical and requiring a lot of straightline power, something he's not lacking. Jim and I are standing at the end of the dirt road where it dumps into the singletrack. Chris comes through with room around him and about 5th spot from the back of the field, not a huge problem. I turn away for a second and then hear some major commotion just a stone's throw away down the trail. I look to see, and there's Chris standing next to his bike on the side of the trail, yet there's another rider who is laying on the ground behind the bike and a number of people running towards the pair including a medic. In all my years of being around bicycles I've never witnessed a spectacle of what just occurred. A rider, trying to a avoid a crash veers and hits Chris. The rider pulls a foot out and plunges it into Chris' rear wheel which wedges his entire lower leg between the wheel and the frame, doing so with enough force to buckle the steel seatstay on Chris's frame. The downed rider is carefully extracted from the bike, amazingly without a serious injury. A friend loans him a bike and he's on his way again. Chris is not so fortunate. He's left standing with a broken bike and mangled wheel. With a very audible scream/grunt, he's picks up what's left and heaves it into the woods. I can only shake my head, I'm speechless. A nearby bystander shrugs and says " well, that's racing " I have to disagree, this is almost as unlikely as being struck by lightening. Sorry, man.

No firm plans for the next few weeks, I've been doing a poor job of treading water at work and home and it feels as though a couple of weeks off from racing would do me well. I've learned that slowing down will make me faster. we'll see.

Thanks for reading

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