Saturday, November 22, 2008

Wonderland Cross Report

Well let's get this out of the way up front. I DFLd. It was a small race and a good crop of folks but I certainly would have liked to have finished higher. I know there was a guy behind me who wasn't on the print out - likely DNF'd - but when the listing comes out on Bikereg I will in all likelihood be listed last.

In spite of my poor place I had fun and I think I learned a fair bit today.

Wonderland Cross 002
Elite Masters Getting Snowed On
First some background. It was cold. When I dragged my butt out of the car to head over to sign in it was below 30 degrees out -- more in the 25 degree area -- and the wind was occasionally whipping around. It snowed maybe 1/2 inch in Lancaster Friday so there was a nice coating of snow on the course when I got there. This made for a course that after a few laps got a bit muddy in spots and occasionally got crunchy where the muddy spots refroze. I was even lucky enough to get to ride while it was snowing during my last lap. See the photo to the right of the guys from the next race who got even more snow.

All in all my race wasn't too bad. I was pleased to see that under race conditions the improved technique that I worked on at Thursday's practice would actually work. I was able to remount and get my feet back to the pedals pretty quickly - much quicker than before -- almost. Unfortunately the conditions and my inexperience kept me from translating the smooth remount into a quick pedal away.

Unfortunately after a couple dismounts and run-ups the bottoms of my shoes were packed with snow and grass and mud - unfortunately so were my pedals. This made it extremely difficult to get my cleats back into the pedals. This slowed me down quite a bit on one of the uphills. I actually ended up getting off my bike at one point trying to clear things out and get moving again. This ended up being a huge time waste. In hindsight - in the car on the way back to Annapolis in fact - I figured out that I should have just ignored the screwed up pedals and cleats and pedaled along like they were flat-pedals and just waited for things to work out. Lesson learned. I'll know what to do next time I get out there in some cold and wet conditions.

Wonderland Cross 016
Brakes in this condition don't stop well
Another big take-away was that cantilevered brakes don't tend to grab so well when they're coated with mud and snow and ice. I noticed this before I rolled out of the start after the pre-ride but I really discovered it in one of the corners. I was on the way down one of the down-hills and came into a corner and started to touch the breaks so that I could take the turn - BUT WHOA - WAIT, what's this! NO BRAKES! That's a fine how-do-you-do. I tried my damnedest to take the turn sans brakes but between the muddiness of the grass and my not the greatest cornering skills I took the corner sans bike. Fortunately I just slid across some grass (upside of the wet course) and was able to get back up and get on the bike and roll out relatively quickly. I rode the rest of the course anticipating that my brakes would be a bit soft in the corners and did fine.

While I was certainly not pleased with my placing I certainly learned a few things and had a great time riding on a good course and enjoyed some authentic cross weather. On to Tacchino tomorrow.

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