Monday, October 20, 2008

Make Mine a Double

This weekend was 'cross times two - Granogue on Saturday and Wissahickon on Sunday.  It was a blast of a weekend and a TON of cross fun!

So the weekend plan was such - ride up Saturday morning arrive ~ 8:00 a.m., reg, pre-ride, race, drink beer, watch pros, eat lunch, camp, get up get to Wiss at 8:00 a.m., pre-ride, race and go home.  For the most part the weekend went according to plans, but it certainly wasn't as simple as it sounds above.

Lets start with our friends at Google.   I am a big fan of Google - I use reader, I use GoogleGroups at my kids religious school, I can't live without GMail.  What exactly does Google have to do with cyclocross.  Well nothing really, but Chris, myself and probably 30 of the riders in the Mens Cat4 C can attest to the fact that GoogleMaps has absolutely no idea how to find 2900 Monchanin Rd.  As Chris (Chris rode up with me Sat a.m.) and I make the last turn on the the list of GoogleMaps directions we drove for about 3 miles and start to wonder why we've passed the prescribed 2.1 miles yet haven't seen a field full of bicycles.  We ride a little farther and see a car with two bikes on the top.  Ah-ha these guys must be going to the race.  We'll follow them.

Yeah.  They're lost too.  They pull into someone's driveway we talk for a few minutes and follow them some more, thinking for whatever reason they might know where they're going.   The guy's driving like a nut and we eventually get dropped.

But look more guys with bikes. Surely they know where the race is...and they pull into a church driveway.  Ok.  Time to brake out the GPS.  Chris cranks up the GPS in his phone, puts in the address and we figure we can put this excellent adventure to bed.  We tell the other lost guys to follow us and we'll be off.  I proceed to do a 3 point turn to turn the Corolla around.  1 - 2 - crunch.  Yeah I wasn't so much looking out the rear window

And I backed into the other guys car.

And broke Chris's bike off my rack.

Onto the other guys hood.

Fortunately we were being followed by the coolest guys in the world and the guy was like "I'm not worried about the car, how are the bikes."  Turns out that Chris' bike was ok and the cool guy tossed it on his rack and we headed to the race.

We made it to the race, but not nearly as early as we would have like.  Chris had to beg them to re-open registration so he could race and so many folks had gotten lost by the crappy directions that the promoters had to bump the start back time 15 minutes.   All this before the race started.

As for the race.  Since we were late, I only got to take a quick pre-ride of about half the course.   Even if I had had a really nice pre-ride it would have been hard to be prepared for the race.  It was very challenging and highly technical.  There were a number of off-camber runs integrated into switchbacks.   There was also a long run on the side of hill that was the cause of one of my two crashes on Saturday.  It wasn't anything super exciting but I did end up whipping out on a turn and jamming my knee into my top tube and as I found out after the race running my calf along one of my chainrings.   It was a race where my inexperience as a cross rider really showed.  I just haven't ridden enough to be able to intuit how to attack certain turns and runs.  I imagine that when I go back to Granouge in the next couple years I'll be able to acquit myself better on the technical parts of the course.

I also left a little bit of skin in Delaware.  There was a turn that transitioned out of grass across some asphalt and onto some dirt.  As I made the turn out of the grass and across the asphalt, the bike came completely out from under me.  I slid my right hand across the asphalt taking the skin off of two knuckles and my index finger and got a nice patch of road rash on my right thigh.

I am puzzled though.  I was wearing bib short (spandex) and the shorts weren't shredded but my thigh has a good 4 inch circular abrasion where the skin has been removed.  (Jim promised pictures)  I understand the part on my hand - the road sanded off some skin.  Simple enough.  But what happened to my thigh?  The spandex - which I can't imagine is any more durable than skin - wasn't harmed, but my thigh looks like crap.  Is the road rash on my leg really a friction burn from the spandex rubbing down my leg?  Regardless it still hurts and probably won't heal well.

More importantly though, was the reaction I got from folks.  Right as I went down I got a "COME ON - GET UP - GO GO GO" from a woman standing nearby.  This was awesome.  Seriously.

It was a combination of "you're a bad ass and you can do it" and "no lollygagging Proteus this is a cross race" and "come on that wasn't so bad."   It was actually really inspiring to have someone yell at/for/to me after I crashed.  It wasn't the worst crash in the world, but feeling sorry for myself certainly wasn't an option.  Anyway, I got up and went.   And felt good about it. 

I finished 84th out of 90.  Not too bad.  Not great by any measure, but it was a ton of fun.

We hung out and watched Shaun from the team race the Mens B.   It was a blast.  He's hardcore and raced really well.  Was hoping to see him bunny-hop some barriers, but that'd probably be pushing it in a race.  He rode really hard.  Kicked some hill butt and looked great.  Here's some video below.


We grabbed a couple free beers and then headed out for lunch.  Jim delivered with some local turkey burger excellence.   I was able to snag some licorice taffy and we rolled back and watched the pros.  This was the first pro race that we watched and it was inspiring and demoralizing simultaneously.  These guys killed this course for an hour and they made the parts of the race that made my lungs burn look like nothing.  These guys were just amazing.   It was incredible impressive to see these guys put in such a strong showing for so long.  Reinforced how much I suck. ;-)

That night was not nearly as eventful as the morning.   We didn't have too much difficulty finding the campground and Chris made some yummy veggies and we hit the sack.

The morning was COLD.  There was frost on Chris' sleeping bag when he woke up.  My car thermometer said 38 degrees when we broke camp and headed for Wissahickon.  

Getting to Wissahickon was no problem.  We got there and even though the sun was out it wasn't much warmer.  It had warmed up to maybe 42 by the time we got there but there was a fair bit of wind and it was just biting cold.   I mean COLD.   Not too cold to ride, but boy am I luck I decided to throw my leg warmers into the bag just in case.  As cold as it was though I was still sucking wind heading around the course.

Wiss was a completely different course than Granogue.  It was much flatter and a bit faster, but still quite hard.   The race took place at a horse show fairground.  One of the obstacles was the course sand-pit that the horses perform in.  The first couple laps in this I ran the course and this sucked alot of juice out of me.  By the fourth lap the sand had been packed pretty well and I was able to ride the whole pit which saved me alot of time.

The highlight of the course had to be a "death spiral" where riders came in a circular spiral and went back out through the spiral again in the opposite direction.  It was really cool to see. (photos above and right by Dennis Smith)

Somehow the officials missed my finish and listed me DNF -Did not Finish.  Fortunately Jim was able to estimate that I finished somewhere around 80th.

All in all a great weekend and I will definitely do it again next year, but I think I'll go up the night before, get better maps, and stay at a hotel.

Photos from this weekend

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