Bruceton Mills, CX Race Report (WTF??)
The 8 Ball Diaries, Part I: W.V.M.B.A. Bruceton Mills, CX
November 23, 2008
The last time I attempted a Cross race was 5+ years ago at a Month of Mud cross race. That race was more of a bastardized mountain/cross race. Since then I've been steeped in the world of Endurance racing. Races lasting 5 to 24 hours. Races where I try to find a groove, ride 'till bonk, puke, and nearly pass out. Good stuff. Who knew I could do all that, and do it in under an hour racing Cross???
OK, OK, I guess Fatmarc, Mr. Rich Bilson, Brad, Don, Aaron, Gerry P, Steve-O, Big Al, and a ton of other Cross-Heads knew, and THAT is why many of those folks have been so persistent in getting me to try Cross. Most were also quick to give warnings of the potential addiction. I've been needing to add something to my fall & winter riding to motivate me. The Month of Mud Series was going to do that, but then I had that little Deep Vein Thrombosis "issue" to take care of, so I had to abort the series before it even started.
Even though I'm still ridding myself of the DVT and on blood thinners, my Doc gave me the all clear to race. So I signed up for the Murrysville Cross Race on 11/30. Then I saw that there was a W.V.M.B.A. CX race happening down in Bruceton Mills, WV. I was interested, but not sure if I wanted to do it or not. I mentioned it to Don, Aaron, and Brad. They were all doing it, so NOW the peer pressure was on.
Race weekend came, and like sorority girl hopped up on Rohypnol and Wine coolers, I caved easily, don't remember much, wanted to puke. I also feel more than a tad violated to boot! Even though the race's web page was updated Saturday to say "YES! We are Racing.... The snow is only a few inches and the course will be plowed down to the grass/dirt/gravel." I STILL found myself in the Soob, on snow covered, narrow ass WV back roads looking for dirt road turns, mail boxes, and barns.
After a few missed turns and some back tracking I found my way to the race venue on a private farm. They had a few more inches of snow than we had back in the W.O., but they were indeed plowing out the course. Who needs course tape when you can just plow the course? I would be racing the Mamasita (as would Don P.). I put on my new Ergon grip (sans bar ends), upped some pressure in the CrossMarks, Locked out the Reba and kept her in the BIG ring. Many of the other racers were on mountain bikes too, some even on full suspensions, so I wasn't too out of place.
Not being a Cross racer, or really even that much of an XC racer, I did the born again virgin type thing and signed up for the 45 min. +1 lap "B" (Sport) race. The other guys would be doing the "A" (Expert) 60 min. +1 lap race after mine.
Pre riding the freshly plowed 1 mile-ish course, was nice. The ground was still a little frozen and the course had not been ridden too much, so there were no real issues. This would of course all change over the next couple hours. Lap times would be pretty quick, even with the snow and mud. There was only on pair of barriers, and one small climb. There were tons of twists, turns, and slick false flats.
12:30 brought race time and 13 "B"s lined up at the bottom of a gravel road drive way. I was unsure about how my start would be. I haven't had to do a fast start in close to 6 years! The "gun" went off (OK, it was a dude yelling GO!) and I big ringed it up the gravel road as hard as I could.
I was surprised to see only 2 other racers with me when I hit the top. As I made my way around the twists and turns of the first part of the lap I tried to get in a groove, but I was freaking anaerobic and would pretty much stay that way for the next 50 minutes. The lead to riders in front of me were on cross bikes, by lap 2 I would be passed by some dude on a Cannondale MTB.
I was by myself a lot on the course and that made it hard to want to keep pushing as hard as I could. I just kept telling myself that folks were right behind me. The laps were quick and seemed to all run together. I have no idea right now how many I even did. I do remember certain events during laps but it was all sort of a haze. I remember thinking- "Wow, snot, spit, saliva, and sweat is just pouring out of my pores, nose and mouth. I really should close my mouth. NO!! DON'T YOU'LL PASS OUT!!" So I just let it fall out.
Don, Brad and Aaron were great! Every lap Don was in my face with a cow bell, and with there only being 13 guys and 4 women out on the course, around the mid way point Don, Brad and Aaron spun their legs on the course behind me. Don was "motivating" me the whole time and added such gems as "YOU'RE NOT WEARING A HEAR RATE MONITOR ARE YOU?? NEVER WEAR A HEART RATE MONITOR AT A CROSS RACE! YOU WON'T LIKE WHAT YOU SEE!!"
I wantedto tell Don "thanks, but shut the f*ck up!!" but my brain/mouth/lungs would not work together. So I just laughed and enjoyed it. Don's screams can be very soothing. OK, that's a lie. It did help though.
I was able to keep the Mamasita upright most of the race. I only had one dab/fall on a rutted section that was slick with mud and snow. My front tire shot to the left, I unclipped and saved it without too much damage to body or bike. Other than my boyz below yelling at me to be more careful!
I was SO freaking happy for the "bell lap". "ONE MORE!" they screamed at me as I passed under the Viagra finish line banner (I kid you not). I tried to keep the same pace, but every lap I could feel myself getting slower, especially on a couple of the muddy false flats. Just as I was about ready to hit the gravel road climb to the finish line I spied a dude on a mountain bike behind me. Frig! Who's this kat?? Where the hell did he come from?? I wanted to pull ahead put the hammer down and try to lose him. Yeah, that didn't really happen. I stood, put in a few hard RPMs and that's all she wrote. Dude spun up the hill for 4th place and I rolled across in 5th.
Awards were 5 deep, so I walked away with a small trophy and a tub of Heed from the prize table. A belly full of chili, a couple free beers, and a some seared lungs. The 'Burgh area folks did well at the race. I got 5th in the "B" race, Don and Brad got "4th" & "5th" in the "A' race. Pittsburgh bike messenger/D.O.R.C. "Stick" got 2nd and WPA area fast as shit racer Joe Ruggery got 1st easily on board a sweet (or should I say spicy?) Chili Con Crosso. That makes two Mamasitas and one Chili Con Crosso with podium spots today.
Aaron was able to pull a very respectable finish despite stopping to pump up a slow leaking tire three times. And as Aaron was quick to point out, if nothing else he was one of the only guys to have his team kit match his bike. I really can't believe he had the finish he had with those tire issues. Great job.
All in all it was a nice re-introduction to Cross racing. It was cool to kill it for 50ish minutes and still have enough left in the tank to hang out, watch the "A" race and have some fun. In most of my races if I'm watching folks race, SOMETHING has gone horribly wrong, and I spend most of the time cursing those racing under my breath as I pack my shit up. This was a welcome change and I'm pretty geeked to try it again next week. If nothing else Cross is helping me get outside and maybe avoid doing intervals on the trainer one more week! And yes, I can also see why this racing could be addictive.
Looking forward to next week, hopefully a bigger crowd, and more suffering, as I get a feel for racing under an hour. Funny bit tonight- I came down from upstairs after work wearing my bike shorts ready to go spin for a half hour before my body weight workout. Wifey says "what the heck are you doing? You just raced yesterday" To which I said- "yeah for like 50 minutes!" She's used to the 3 to 5 days it takes me to get ANY legs back after and Enduro.
Cross. It's the Devil' work.
Later, more random pics below...