21 October, 2008

Race Reports: ZM Turkey Cross & Southern/Eastern CX Challenge

Time to catch up on my race reports from the last couple cross races.



ZM Turkey Cross - October 12, 2008

Over the Thanksgiving weekend I was home in Niagara, so I headed up to this race at Cedarvale Park in Toronto with Shawn from the SCCC.  We rolled in nice and early and checked in.  Getting changed to head out for the preride I realize something is not right - I don't have my shoes.  They're definitely at home in NF.  The feeling that followed was just terrible.  I was so upset with myself.

I asked around, and the best I could come up with for shoes were some that fit great, but belonged to someone who races at the same time.  I asked the organizers if I could race the 11:30 race, but they were not going to let me - the only option would be to race the 1/2/3 at 1:00.  Some more asking about, and I came up with an offer of some shoes from our singlespeeding M2 friend Jason, but in size 44.  I tried them on, and though I just about tore them apart it worked.  Well, if I was going to race, this is how I would have to do it.

To keep the racing part brief, it went alright settling in mid-pack off the start and fading to an eventual 15th place.  Not great, but it was a lot of fun as usual, and I got an interesting story out of it.



Southern and Eastern Cross Series Challenge - October 19, 2008

This past weekend, I headed to Kingston for the big showdown between Southern and Eastern Ontario.  The numbers lived up to the name - it was a big event by Ontario standards, which was great.  Accommodations for the weekend were care of the Bishops in Bath, ON as I was traveling with Nick and Mel for the weekend.  I must say, their hospitality was fantastic.

Upon arriving at the park on Sunday, we took our time getting changed and registered since we had plenty of time and it was rather cold.  Out for a pre-ride in many layers, we explored the course.  Very technical, but with enough speed sections to satisfy the roadies too.  I loved the runups and off camber bits.  I did not love the somewhat sketchy concrete dismount (at least it was after a corner) or the awful right hand downhill barrier approach.  I definitely never did that cleanly and whacked my knee on it somewhere around lap 2 ("hmm, where is that blood coming from").

The race had only two start times with most of the categories in the morning, and just Elite Men, Master A/1 men and Elite Women in the afternoon.  This was my chance to race Brandon for the season, and his first cross race.  We got set up for the mass start, as all the categories went off together rather than in 1 minute intervals as in the Southern series.  I thought this was nuts, but with a right hand second row position it was actually quite good.  All categories did 60 minutes too, which was not nearly as bad as I thought.  In fact, I think I preferred it.

The pace was quick off the line, and I think I did 90% of the first lap in my 46t ring, though I did have to back it off after that.  I found I was quick over the double and single barriers with straight approaches, and good on the plateau/switchback section that forced some people to run and many others to fall.  I did have a bit of a slip myself on lap 1 mostly due to eagerness and speed, but it was not bad at all.

The downside to the mass field was not having any clue who you were racing against.  It didn't help that it wasn't the same guys you line up against every other week, so it was pretty much a mystery until the results came in.  On the topic of results - the timing system was great with lap cards that you could actually see and prompt results after the race.  It turns out I finished 3rd in the Novice category, or so I thought!  They had me up on the podium and everything (next to Nick, who rode very strong for the win) but when the results were posted on the OCA site I was 5th, as apparently they must have missed a couple riders.  Southerners too - so I got 4th place points for the Southern series.

All told, it was a very good race for me, and an enjoyable weekend.

20 October, 2008

Some evening thoughts

I was feeling inspired to post a few thoughts here..


List A: things that add to my happiness
- coffee
- cyclocross
- tasty food

List B: things that detract from my happiness
- sleep deprivation
- studying for midterms
- studying for midterms in subjects that will never be used again

Right now I'm using things from List A to make me feel better about the inevitability of those in List B.  It's sort of working...

19 October, 2008

U-Cup 2008 Report

Yes, I'm way behind on race reports and really posts of any sort on this blog.  It's a busy term, but I'll recap the U-Cups for now.


So, University Cup racing is always fun.  For those who are not familiar, they are basically O-Cup style XC races designed to allow some inter-school competition for College and University students, with a big focus on introducing people to racing and just having fun.

The A division spans a wide ability range from top Expert and sometimes Elite racers down to about the top of Sport class (in O-Cup terms).  The B division, which I raced in this year has a bit of overlap including some top Sport class riders down to folks who have never raced before and who may have just started mountain biking.  It's all great fun, and there's a place for everyone.

My goal was to do well in B this year, hoping for a top-5 finish.  Though I think it was within reach, it did not happen.  I'll get that out of the way now.  I was competitive though, and was able to finish 9th and 10th at my better races (Mansfield and Boler).   At Ganaraska I had a bad start and blew up a bit after hitting traffic and trying to make up time.  Hardwood, I was expecting a good race, but ended up not lining up after an injury from Paul's Dirty Enduro the day before.  That was a good race though - I got 5th in my age group for the 30k.  I felt unsure of my knee for Hardwood, and though the pre-ride went pretty well I did not feel confident about racing.

The B field this year was very strong, with some consistent folks from both UofT and Guelph.  I think I really wasn't fit enough to hang with the top 3 or 4, but I should have been able to do a little better.  I did take notes from those races though, and gained more useful experience, which is a lot of what this year has been about for me.  Next year there's a good chance I'll line up in A and get stomped, but all in the spirit of getting faster and suffering more.

So just a bit more on that note - this year has been all about experimenting for me: racing short events, long events, different courses, etc. to try to get a feel for my ability.  All the while I've been training, and I definitely have seen the results of that.  Going into next year I should be more focussed, and far wiser, and that alone will help me to be more successful.  I will pick some reasonable challenges, and work hard to train for a proper season.  More on that later in the fall.  For now, I've been racing cyclocross (more useful experience) and having a blast.  I'll post some reports on that when I get a chance.

As always, thanks for reading.

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