Friday, September 23, 2011

Dogfish Hermann CX Race Report


The season has started and I feel 50 years older.  Back, legs, arms, feet, hands all have cuts, bruises, knots, and soreness.  With my body beat up, why am I so happy?

This past weekend was the Dogfish Hermann CX Weekend.  I was on the fence about racing the 3/4s or the 1/2/3s but decided to race the 3/4s to gain experience and to get back home for church on time Sunday evening.  I think I made the right choice.  We made it to church (though I was pretty strung out and covered in mud) and I have a lot of room to grow as a crosser!  Here’s the race rundown from my blue Kona:

Conditions were cool (high 50’s) and we were racing in the dark/under the lights.  About 40 guys lined up and the course was wet but not too sloppy.  I got a 2nd row start due to pre-reg order and promptly missed my pedal but moved up during the long paved hole shot.  I think I took the first turn in 10th wheel or thereabout.
The course was a lot of fun to race.  There were open power sections, lots of 180’s, a few off-camber bends, a double sand pit, 2 mini barriers, and 2 regulation barriers.  There were also a few swampy bits and a double staircase runup!  Lighting was ok and there was only one corner that was completely dark – right next to the band.  Yes, live band during the races!

At the front of the race BJ (Momentum) took the early lead with John (My Wife Inc) on his wheel.  I could see the two of them establishing a gap on the line of guys I was with as soon as the first bend around the baseball outfield!  I passed several guys on the stairs and worked my way up into the top 5 catching BJ during lap 3 (I think).  We rolled together for a bit until he slid out on a turn.  I think the two of us were evenly matched this weekend – he with the bigger motor but I with slightly better driving.  It wasn’t much of a difference but that’s how I think it was.
Huppin' through the 2nd sand pit.  Photo Credit: Dan Singer

Out front John was cruising along to a nice gap.  Some friends said I was chipping away at it but I never got within 20 seconds.  My back started to get to me and two Michelob Ultra riders were nipping at my heels.  Then I dropped my chain on a remount and bled 8 spots (my guard obviously was not set up correctly – by me!).  Big thanks to Revolution Cycles for getting me back in the race!  

I worked my way back up to 5th at one point but in my duels with Aaron Koch (Dogfish) I was bested, finishing 6th.

I watched a few laps of the 1/2/3s and saw former teammate Jason (Psimet) throwing down monster attacks with the area big dogs.  The kids and the wife were either sleeping or about to be and I needed rest before round two so I missed the finish.  It was a great day of racing though.

The forecast was for more heat and more water!  It rained enough overnight that the course Sunday morning was pretty swampy.   The masters coming off the course all told the same tale: don’t take the lines you can see!  It’s slick!  However, as the day went on the rain stayed away while temps went into the 70s (F) making a tacky track that was quite fun.

Another 40 (+/-) dudes lined up for 45 min in the crucible.  John (who won Saturday) won the hole shot and we foolishly let him start earning a gap on the ball field.  I couldn’t believe it, I was in 6th wheel and couldn’t move up!  Argh!  My legs weren’t so fresh for day two but I started passing people before the stairs and found myself with a little gap in 3rd by the end of the lap.  I wasn’t really comfortable out there and really felt the fatigue from yesterday, but I was chipping away at the guy in front of me.  

Due to the increased temps I didn’t use embrocation and I also stowed a bottle in my skinsuit between my shoulderblades.  This latter choice was a mistake as it was soon in my saddle area.  Rather than ride it out, I sat up on the road section and fished it out of the skinsuit.  I lost 3 or 4 places doing this dance.  Rather than messing with the bottle, I should have been RACING MY BIKE!  Aaron came flying past me during this time, since he was, y’know, racing his bike.  He was not going to wait for my shenanigans!
Flowing on Sunday!  Photo Credit: Jason Watkins

Well, I clawed one more place back from the guy who was in second earlier but blew up.  The closing laps I was getting closer to the fifth place rider but needed another lap to overtake him.  However, that last lap was zen-full of smooth cornering.  I felt like I could flow on the course that last lap!  I was finding my pedals, taking turns faster and smoother than previously, it’s like I finally “got” the course.  It is my hope that with more cx racing I can start to figure out how to ride a course before the last lap of the second race!!

Auditioning for Stomp?  Photo Credit: Jason Watkins

Big congrats to John on two decisive wins.  Also, thanks to Dogfish Apparel, the city of Hermann, and the promoter Jeff Yielding for putting on a great event.  Those of you who missed it, MISSED OUT!  The family and I are already looking forward to next year's event.

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