Friday 8 November 2013

Cross 2013 Race #8 - To the riders, to make much of time

Image posted by Woodcock Cycle Works

This shot was taken  on the fourth lap of the 40 minute race at the Provincials, which was race eight, which was the last race of the season, which was held at The Forks in Winnipeg, and which will be the course (more or less) for the Canadian Nationals next year! This shot exemplifies three of the unbeatable elements of cross racing: diversity, egalitarian participation, and the ride(run)-your-ass-off-while-you-may-old-time-is-still-a-flying spirit. 

On the far left, U13 female racer, MH, is grinding away at it with the rest of us (Did I mention that she's an U13 racer!?). Next left is me, a 40+ master (oh the misnomers!), knowing there will be one more lap to go, and wishing they'd hoover up the sand we've just plowed through, so I don't have to do that again. In the middle left is LK, a senior (23 - 29 yrs) female who some of you may recognize from other significant pursuits in other cycling realms, suffering along with the rest of us. In the centre, and overtaking me is DL, who plays the wait-and-see game first, and then the go-faster-now game in the later laps - great tactic ... if you've got the lungs. On the right is DS, a 50+ MASTER (never was there a truer category bestowed) who started in the second wave 2 full minutes behind the wave the rest of us started in, and he's sending us all out of the classroom, and up to the office. And the front right (you can just see his rear wheel and right pedal) is GF, another 40+ master who LK and I have been battling back and forth with (forthwith?) the whole race. 

This is our provincial championship race and the above panoply of types of racers are on the same field of battle, at the same time! We are meeting at The Forks! The cross-road! Name another sport where that can happen! Full intensity! Full range! What I'm marvelling at here is that all 6 of us are fully, fully, fully engaged in this thing. We are making much of time. So much. Sure our results will be posted in 4 different categories, but here we 6 are, hammering hard up the same run-up, getting in each others' way (well, we were all friendly and cooperative, but it wasn't like we could just ignore each other and do our own thing), and getting things done! 

Why? Why is this awesome? Because we are all at once and at the same time in the flower of our youth when we're out there in the smiling to-day of the moment, and we are also all at once and at the same time riding in the knowledge, some of us more than others, that each of us, to-morrow will be dying.

I'll leave the rest of this cross-season eulogy to the last three stanzas of Mr. Herrick's imperative:

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,        
  The higher he 's a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
  And nearer he 's to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
  When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
  Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
  And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
  You may for ever tarry.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Cross 2013 Race #7 - Some observations

First off, a big thanks to the people who take pictures at the races, and then share them on FB or a blog (RC! and NP!). It's a great thing to have the pictures to help you relive a part of your life, even if it was a difficult (read: Holy hellish) 40 or so minutes (this race was actually 37'52" for me). Second off, the CrossTastic course was sweet fast flowy fun! Thanks for that too! Now, in a lamer, more "frame by frame" version, I will imitate the #Svenness Vimeo series to de/re-construct last week's race.

The hole shot: You only have a chance at a hole shot if you start in the front row, and if you've got the legs that day, or just have the legs period. I had one of those two going for me, but I missed my chance and the start kind of turned into an (ass)hole shot. I dropped from starting 5th, to rolling something like 12th into the first corners.

Run-ups and little barriers: If you look angry on the way up, on the first lap - if you look angry because you feel like you should be puking, on the first run-up of the first lap - it will be a long race. A long, long, long race. There is no way to fix this (GeeVs!) except to put your head down, puke if you can, and ride on because you must.

Carrying the bike: Is it more efficient (read: less tiring and/or faster) to shoulder the bike (like a classic (classy!) cross racer), or to pick it up by the top-tube and shifter (like an ungainly suitcase)? I don't know, but I think it makes a difference. I also tried the pick-it-up-by-the-top-tube-over-the-barriers-and-then-set-it-down-and-roll-it-between-the-barriers once, and that was way more work than I thought it would be. Though my personal practice is not consistent, I'd bet that the classy-cross-carry is the best way to go here. At the very least it looks great. And generally, it seems to me, that smooth looking form translates into efficiency and better use of energy. Carry on.

Cornering: Sweeping through a fast set of corners without the brakes and right on the wheel of some guy (PT!) who's riding just a bit faster than you is just the best best best part of a cross race!

Barriers: These barriers were just the perfect distance apart for me. Two steps between and then over the next one and then push the bike up a hill to a gravel straight. This section went well. Anyway ... and also, when being followed: it goes like this. I really am only aware of who's just ahead of me. Maybe once in a while I'll get a sense that there's someone behind me when I hear a grunt, or a missed shift, or I see a shadow in the trees, but usually I'm just looking forward. At this point in this race I really thought that there was some significant distance - says three seconds worth - between me and the next guy. How wrong could I be? Well it's pretty clear. BVDB is just on my ass, and I believe The Impaler is just behind him. Geez. I think we were on the third lap of five here. BVDB passed me (he always does - he says I'm his bunny - nice to be useful for something) on the fourth or fifth lap. So that means that for more than a full lap he was on my wheel. Weird. I don't know if it would have been better if I'd known all along. Probably not. I get nervous when people follow me.

Straights/Downhills: I'm always tempted to rest on these, but resting during a cross race is dumb dumb dumb. You can do that when it's over and you have a beer in your hand. During the race it has to go like this: Take a bigger gear! Go faster! Even so, JL blew by me at the finish. Damn. And that's it from #dbness