Monday, October 29, 2007

Capital Cross & Boulevard Cup: The lowdown

So, the Capital Cup was Saturday in Topeka. Good course, maybe a little long, but should have been a good one for me and I was looking forward to laying it down. Was also excited because it was a large women's field and Catherine Walberg was there. You gotta understand that last year was my first 'cross season and Catherine handed me seconds by large margins the WHOLE time. So, as much as I like Catherine, I was really wanting to win one.

On the second lap I was leading and trying to lay on the power and I focused on the wrong tree or cones or something and in an instant I heard my name being yelled in a non-cheering fashion. I look around, realize what's going on and Catherine waves me back to course. I circle back and get on track, but my concentration is blown and I can't get my mental game initiated for the self flagellation. Catherine, on the other hand, seemed to jump right back into the race full bore and dropped me like a sack of potatoes. :( So, after the race, I tried to focus on what went right. I felt strong. The first tubular I'd ever glued stayed on. My barriers were good. So later, feeling determined to do better the next day, I was standing by Catherine and jokingly told her I was coming for her on Sunday.

(Will I ever learn to keep my mouth shut? Why in the world would I want to prompt my strongest competitor to bring her A game? Sheesh. Oh well, once it leaves your mouth, you just got to suck it up and deliver, so it was water and an early to bed for me.)

Sunday's race I had planned to get there early and ride the course so as to control what I could. You know, learn the course, warm up properly and all that. However, being directionally challenged, I drove my sleeping companion south instead of north at a critical juncture and we were late, missing the masters race and leaving me with only 20 minutes to warm up. But...all that really means in 'cross is that the first lap will be a doozy. So what. Harden the **** up, right?

Our race was a mere 3 laps, or roughly 30 minutes, and my original plan was to take Michelle's advice and follow Catherine and Jen around the first lap to learn the course. Unfortunately, or not, I'm not sure... I got a great start (thx coach) and popped right into the lead. Of course, all this meant was that took the first turn and promply blew through the wrong cones. (I'm tellin' you, the life of the directionally challenged can be frustrating.) I circle back and catch back on behind Catherine and Jen. At least I'm in the position I originally wanted. The pace is fast but we're hanging together and I had a few more foibles, one of which opened quite a gap between me and two on the front. Upon seeing this, however, my two friends Jen and Michelle, who are also in the race and never hesitate to give me advice, holler at me to close it up. When I'm hammering, I'm pretty focused, but a direct order like that seems to automatically trigger the correct response and I quickly closed the gap. Not long after, smarty Catherine kinda sits up and I jump to the fore again. It was a good move on her part because she knew at that point it was just the 3 of us and if I was on the front, I would have to worry about attacks from her and Jen and that they would be able to see when I shifted or tried to make a move to ride 'em off my wheel.

However, I knew there were only 3 laps and the last thing I wanted was to slow the pace at all and let the two of them get any rest or gang up on me by launching attacks and counter attacks.

So, I tried to just dig in, hammer, and keep the pace high enough that any attack would be prohibitively expensive in terms of energy. I also focused on the barriers which seemed to be my advantage yesterday afternoon.

The start/finish is uphill on pavement, so by the time I came down off the grass and hit the road, I had my big ring spun up and was poppin' gears. This is the point where the drills Marc had me do really paid off. Not only have they given me good starts, but when the time came to finish strong, my body knew what to do without too much brain input, and I powered up the hill and crossed the line first. Then, in proper 'cross fashion, couldn't breath, wanted to fall over and puke. That's 'cross. It's fun. Trust me.

Later, Catherine gave me some tips regarding my tires. I guess I was running them way too hard and that was contributing to skipping around in the corners and across the bumps. As I understand it, if you use a lower pressure, the bike will get less "air time" and more power will be delivered to moving it forward. Makes sense. I'll give it a try. I also think this demonstrates what a fine competitor she is. I mean, giving tips to a rival to up the game isn't something everyone would do. But, like she said on Saturday... "When I saw you were here, I knew it was gonna be a race." And on my part, I had originally planned to do both the women's and men's that day, but when I saw Catherine was there, I knew I'd only need the one.

I think we'll be layin' it down at Riverside next weekend. That's a fun one with a big @$$ sand pit along with a sandy run-up, unless they changed the course. It's a real spectator friendly one too. Come on out! Bring yer bells!


Neve_r_est said...

"directionally challenged", rubs off, eh? Now I really am sorry I missed this one.

Nice work.

At least I got to drag race a horse and buggy on my gravel grinder Sunday. Since when did the Amish start hanging fuzzy dice in their buggies anyways?


Chris said...

Good report Syd.

Matt N said...

I'll be down ther sunday doing the 4's and 3/4's. See you there.

VeloCC said...

nice job Syd!!! That should you make feel good about the coming months:)
I am proud of you:)

Marc said...

Skills! One of the 3 ways to make you a more accomplished cyclist. Want to go fast? Just like you did in that sprint. Find that gear. Turn it over. Find that next gear. Turn it over and so forth.

Here's a good early season drill. After you've built some leg strength work on finding a gear, ex 53x16 that you can turn over @ 80 rpm. Work that gear till you can do it easily @ 95 rpm. Go off of rate of percieved exertion/heart rate/or power. Now start all over again in a harder gear, say 53x15 repeat the above and rinse.

By the time your training has hit the next phase, LT work, you'll have the leg strength to really get fast.

JuneBug said...

That was a GREAT POST! I laughed so hard and was so happy to hear you won!. It made me wonder about the tire pressure since maybe the higher pressure gave you that tiny bit of edge on the final climb? But am trying to find the right pressure and tires and all that. Cross is a techie- geek's paradise.

Nice job!

zekesbiken said...

That was a great course Sunday! I had a blast and felt like I rode well. I got there late as well and had only a small warm up, no pre-ride and then almost missed the start hanging in the wrong spot and running my mouth. Good times all the same! See you at Riverside!