today was the last race in the TEAM LAKE EFFECT'S cleveland cross race series. with only 4 points seperating myself and second place Zak Dieringer, and paul martin 15 points down from me, i knew that this was going to be a tough race with the points so close. and with paul in the mix, one can never tell what is going to happen.
at sign up, the word on the street was that paul was NOT going to show, but in classic paul style, he showed up with about a half hour before start time. other noteables at the start was jerry pflug and shawn adams. this was going to be a fast race.
conditions made for an interesting race - one to two inches covered the course, and either was hard packed and iced over, or it was soft and muddy. most of the mud was on the straights and most of the ice were in the corners. interesting.
pre-race laps were done with jerry and we quickly decided that 50 pounds of pressure was just too much as we kept sliding out (i even fell once). i lowered my pressure down and did another lap with jerry.
gun went off and pretty much paul took off with jerry, myself and shawn quickly putting a good gap on the small field of fellow cross freaks. paul soon put a good gap on the 3 of us, while shawn and i took turns chasing jerry. i checked out the situation behind me - zak was locked into battle with the second place finisher from last sunday.
about half way through the race, while behind shawn, he went down on a hard packed icy flat section that was made difficult because the field had ruts that were frozen and it made your rear tire slide a little. well, his slid a little too far and he went down.
two laps later, as i was wondering how the hell did he go down on a staight section, i did the same thing. after this, i must of went down about 4 more times before the race was over. i got closer and closer to shawn, going hard where i could. i managed to get the gap to within striking distance with two laps to go - and aslo put a really good gap on eventual 5th place finisher zak.
with two to go, i went hard on a couple of straight sections and closed down the gap on shawn. i figured he would slow down thinking that he had third all wrapped up, but i knew that it would come down to taking some chances on the last lap if i were to catch him.
so on the last lap, i went hard on the first flat/climbing section - i was getting closer. some short single track sections and two barriers later, i was closing in, but i would have to take a chance with two sections. one was a slight gradual off camber section that lead into the flat section where i had previously went down.
so i put my head down, went as hard as i could, and just as i started the off camber corner when i could see i was closing quickly on shawn, my wheels slipped out from under me. as i layed on my back holding my bike in the air because i was still clipped into my pedals, i said out loud, "i guess i'm not catching shawn."
oh well... fourth place in todays race, but it was enough to seal the victory up for the series. because today was DOUBLE points and that paul martin finished four places ahead of zak, that gave paul the second place in the series over zak by ONE POINT. zak looked pretty PO'd after the race - he had a few good races and was in what i thought his best fitness for cross season that he had ever been in.
some possible pics up maybe tomorrow - one of the bike authority guys took some pics at the race, so check back.
for now, i can rest - for a few days, i suppose. this may be the end of the 2005 season, but i also see it as the begining of the 2006 season.
mucho lucko to all those heading out to cross nationals next weekend - pflug, rudy and the bike authority guys and gary dugovich. ride hard guys (and gals!)