17 December 2008

Well thats all folks..

So, CX nationals was last weekend. I didn't attend. As I've gone through this season, I've found that this jump to the Elite level in 'cross, has made for the hardest few months of competition that I've ever faced. I knew that I was biting off a big ol' chunk of hard, but I had no idea that it would leave me this beat down. The last race at Brookside Park sealed the deal for me.

Mary and I traveled up to the frozen tundra of Indianapolis, and were kindly greeted by temps in the teens. Luckily Brookside is one of the best venues in the series, and has a nice huge heated building to thaw out inside. So with a couple inches of snow on the ground, a good wind blowing, and super cold temps, Mary set out for her last race of the season. This course is, by far, the best course in the series. It has great elevation changes, a great run-up, and a wicked off camber section. Its one of those rare complete courses that challenges everyone. Mary was trying to finish up the season ranked 5th in the series, and she was really concerned about holding on to it. She started pretty well and was rolling pretty good, but attacked at just the wrong time, and couldn't capitalise on it. It was nice to see the pilot light going with her again. She's had a rough year, and she finally had that competitive burn going again. It was nice to see, and I can't wait to see what happens with her new coach Alec Donahue of Cycle-Smart. All I can say is, Mary is medicated, motivated, and will be out for blood. (For you anti-doping folks, its all legal, and she'll have a TUE next year for all 300.)

Later in the day, when it was time to suit up and race, the temps had climbed to a balmy 23 degrees. Let me reiterate how nice this venue is, I was able to get dressed in a heated (yes, I said heated) gym. I really prefer to get dressed slowly and just relax. I usually lay a towel out for my feet to be on, pin my skinsuit or jersey, and then proceed to hang out for a few. After I've relaxed for a few, I lay out whatever I am planning on donning, and then start the layering. I'm sure it looks funny from afar, but its my little bit of peace and quiet before I have to suffer.

Well, once I decide that I'm not man enough to rock a skinsuit and leg warmers, or BKW's, I decided on my full tights. Yes, this is the same guy that would be bare-kneed on a rainy 35 degree day two years ago. I got a lap and some change on the course, and it was actually getting a little muddy in spots. I am always happy with the mud. The race started and once again, I got hosed on my start spot. Its amazing that I've raced almost every race in the series, and was ranked 8th , but couldn't get my appropriate start spot. The start goes right up a longish road climb, and then gets off-road at the top. Its definitely where your legs start to really burn on each lap. I started towards the back, but made my way through the pack on the climb, and then continued to pick off some folks on the grassy section. There were quite a few roadies that showed up, and while they had the legs to smoke me on the road sections, they crashed eachother immediately. I wish I had known that the rest of the race would be similar. I would pass them, they would catch me on the first road section, they would sit on my wheel, and then attack on the next road section. Then crash-city, everytime taking a few seconds away from me. It drove me nuts, but I couldn't do anything about it. They would be sprawled out all over the widest course in the series, so it didn't leave me much room to pass. After a few laps of that, I just settled in where I was at, and finished the race. My legs didn't have it, it was my kind of course, my kind of conditions, and should have been a better race. It was so frustrating to be at the best venue for me, but my legs just didn't show up.

Mary and I cleaned up our mess, went inside to see the awards and schwag give-away, and I managed to walk away with a shiny new Chris King Headset in blood red. It made me feel a little better, but only by a little.

That weekend just capped the season for me. Kansas City would not be a part of my schedule. I didn't want to be one of those guys that is just in the way. Knowing my luck, I would be the guy that t-bones Trebon or Johnson. So, this begins the offseason.

This last picture really sums up my season. I've been working hard, putting in the time, but I've still got a bit to go before I'm where I want to be. That makes me want it even more, and I feel it each day I get up and think about getting back on the bike.
Photos courtesy of www.gregsailor.com

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