Having just wrapped up a long season of endurance mountain bike racing and a 5th place overall in the North East Ohio (NEO) cross series, I travelled south to Yellow Springs Ohio for the Ohio State cyclocross championships.
It was your typical cross course with lots of corners, one double barrier, two single barriers that were low and far enough apart to bunnyhop and one sand section. Rain earlier in the week made the course slower and softer then had been in previous days, but it also made some of the single track sections a little slick.
Gun went off and I was sitting in the top 8 riders going full out and within one lap we pretty much gapped the rest of the field.
Things stayed tight for awhile, and then gaps opened up as the pace went up at the front. I dropped from the main group, but kept them within site.
A few laps later, a few more riders got by me, but I kept the pressure on by concentrating on the corners and jumping the single barriers on the backside of the course. I would catch and drop a few riders.
With 4 laps to go, I was sitting in 8th spot overall, 3rd Ohio rider. This is usually the point where the race hurts the most and riders start making mistakes.
2 laps to go, I close the gap to the next two riders and one of them goes down in a tight 180 degree corner. I hammer out of it in search of the next rider and drop him immediately.
1 lap to go, over the double barriers. The rider in front of me does not remount as fast as he had before and I press hard on the pedals to get in front of him before the single track section. I ride the section as fast as I could, jump the barriers and hit the 180 degree with enough speed to ride it in my big ring. Coming out of the next corner, I had at least a 5-10 second gap and I was closing in on 5th place overall.
I would cross the line 6th overall with 5th place not much more then 50 feet ahead of me - but I would finish up as the 3rd Ohio rider on the day which was a great way to wrap up the 2010 racing season.
3rd today at the NEO cross race at kirtland park - another tough battle the week before the state cross race. offhand, i have a gut feeling that a cleveland rider is going to win states.
that wraps up the series for cleveland and put me in 4th overall after 10 races.
long write up tomorrow/tuesday.
course was mostly all grass with a few sections of sand and one steep run up - so the course was not too muddy at all.
no really long flat sections and a lot of slippy corners meant that roadie strength was not going to be a huge factor.
gun went off, cameron got the hole shot, i sat in about 5th'ish spot.
up the run up, through the sand and twisty's and two laps later, i was in small 3 man pack with paul and matt - jason was not far behind.
matt and paul were powering it good while i was concentrating on good cornering and dismounts/remounts. all of us, at some point, would good down in the slippy corners.
matt goes down and i take the lead for a few laps and it was about this time that i decided to run the small little section of two tight turns after the hill run-up as running was way faster.
matt catches back up, but a small gap back to paul has opened up and the laps were counting down.
matt gaps me and powers some of the corners and he has a very small gap over me with 2 to go, paul is charging from behind and he looks like he is building up steam. i concentrate on catching matt.
through the tight turns on the first section of twisty turns and into and over the double barries, and into the small climb before the hill run, i see paul catch his bike on the barriers and it almost flies over his head. chain off and who else knows what, paul has to stop to fix it. the gap back to paul grows.
i pedal on, concentrating on catching matt. i make up the gap in the conrners, he powers away.
1 lap to go and the gap to matt is holding steady, right around 5 seconds. paul is chasing, but the gap is too big to close with only a lap left.
i get within 5 seconds of matt, but he takes the win. i finish up 2nd on the day, paul rolls in 3rd.
yet another great day of duking it out cross style.
one more NEO race for the year this coming weekend, then training for 2011 starts up.
throw a ton of mud and temps in the 40's and you have an awesome cross race.
i get a decent start, settling right in behind steve, matt and paul.
paul and matt take off in full flight on the first lap and battle it out first.
i would settle in for a long battle for 3rd with steve, but he would gap me in early and i was in a mad panic using all my cross corner tricks and lines (and a hell of a lot of hard pedaling) to bridge the gap.
with 3 laps to go, i finally catch him and attack him immediately on hella steep run up climb. down the backside, through the flats and then i realize he's right on my tail.
he counters my attack and opens up a small gap, but i keep him close.
on the last lap, he holds the gap, but lets up right at the very end. all out sprint to catch him in the last sand section, i hit the corner perfect and i don't have to scrub any speed allowing me to get up to his back wheel just in time for the last barriers.
over the barriers, mud in my shoes prevented the perfect clip in remount that i would needed to get past him - he beats me out for 3rd by about 2 feet.
another great race - 4th at the end of the day, but an awesome battle which was repeated for several places on the day.
with a possible 30 second penalty for not dressing for the occasion, everybody joined in on the holiday madness.
gun went off, elbows were flying. john got the hole shot, paul and steve were chasing.
steve would eventually flat, and get second - paul would take the win.
i settled into a battle with john for 3rd as he maintained about a 8 second gap for most of the race. didn't register until late into the race that my camo pants were digging into my gut and were causing me some major cramping that started about 15 minutes into the race.
would end up 4th on the day.
gun went off and i had to snake around cameron coming in pretty hot into the first tunnel turn. i jumped in behind john and soon after steve and matt tangled up leaving me and john at the front.
steve would soon sneak by and so would paul - then late in the race, matt. they would finish 1, 2, 3.
so, john and i duked it out for the entire race.
i pulled at the start, the john pulled awhile. once matt was coming up, john slowed a little and i charged forward again.
matt would catch us and pull away, and i chased him.
in the closing laps, through the pine trees i was thinking that my arms were getting beat up by the constant jarring. and then i whack my head off a tree. ouch. john then pulls through.
hard efforts out of the corners, i stay on his wheel. in the grass field, john jumps, but slips. i wasn't ready for my attack yet, so i waited until the last little straight before the twisty's near the stream, then i jumped.
hit the corner into the pines so hard the rear end jumped up what felt like 2 feet. through the turns, into the grass, jumped on the pedals as hard as i could and got a small gap.
i would hold it to take 4th - not a win, but great racin'.