Today (12/11/11) was the last cyclocross race of the season (for Jake & I; Nationals is still a few weeks away): The Luray Caverns Cyclocross race. Only in its second year, it is held right on the grounds of Luray Caverns.
Since last week was the final race of the MABRACross Super 8 series Jake and I were free to treat this one a little differently. Basically, I didn't want to try and get to Luray (1.5 hour drive) in time for the 9:30AM 45+ race, and by this week in December I knew the temps would likely be cold at 9:30am (indeed it was in the 20s). So I figured Jake and I could both race the Cat 3 race at 3pm. It would be the first and possibly last time that Jake and I race against each other. It would be the "battle of the century."
Luray is nestled in the Shenandoah Valley, so has beautiful mountains all around. (I only had my blackberry for photos, but I'm hoping that In The Crosshairs will post some excellent video soon; indeed he did, it's here https://www.cxhairs.com/2011/12/12/luray-caverns-cx-2011/ and for your convenience embedded at the end of this post)
The course was built on the side of a hill, with a road section up the hill, there were a number of tight turns then a drop down the backside of the hill, a climb back up then a series of turns traversing back down the hill before making way back up the hill. So there was some solid climbing but also some very tight turning. Conditions were a bit slick with a thin layer of mud on many of the upper corners.
Being the last race of the day, it was a small field of about 20 Cat 3s, but we had 5 Coppis. Kimani was of course the class of the field and would ride away to win.
Me and Jake were on the front line, but the officials pulled a "surprise" whistle that caught me completely off guard. I missed my clip in and didn't finally get clipped into my pedal until the top of the road at which point I was at the back of the pack and Jake was toward the front. I put in a big effort to pass some people quickly and get back to Jake. Kimani and Dave Pederson were up front. I quickly realized I didn't have great legs, but was ahead of Jake a little. I stayed a little ahead of Jake on the first lap. But on Lap 2 at some point he easily rode past me on a climb and when we started to climb back from the drop off the back side of the hill Jake EASILY rode away creating a decent sized gap. Ugh. This was bad. I really thought it was over. But I dug in and started to claw him back on the turns going down the hill. I kept his gap manageable and on Lap 3 was starting to close. Jake was catching up to Dave P and I was ever so close and was afraid that Dave would help Jake. But by the bottom of the hill we were together as 3. This is where Jake should have dropped the hammer and left Dave and I to rot going up the hill on the road. He had the legs, but instead he sat behind Dave, which let me sit behind him.
I made my move to go around them both coming out of a turn by the pits. Jake jumped on my wheel. We dropped down the back side of the hill and were running with Jake just a step behind and next to me. I led up the hill going all out. Jake says he was just sitting on me, but this was his second mistake. He should have attacked and used his superior legs to get a gap on me rather than let me go into the turns ahead.
2 other guys caught up to us at the bottom of the hill and mixed in a little. I could hear behind me Jake's gears skipping and I even yelled back to ask if he was ok. One of the guys got around me and led me up the hill. Jake was, I think, just behind me but maybe with a small gap. I waited to stand up as the hill kicked up. I wasn't able to get around the guy in front of me and as soon as I cross the line I turned around to see Jake just getting pipped by the other guy. He was maybe 20 feet behind me. I was 8th and he was 10th.
It was a good race and Jake rode very well. I was able to beat him only because he didn't take advantage of his strength, which we talked about later. Also if it had be a bit more of a wide open course where he could apply more power I would never gotten back to him. He could have beat me and definitely was stronger today.
It was a beautiful ride home in the mountains as the sun went down.
Today was Jake's 20th race in a 12 week period. We raced every single weekend starting on September 18th and many times he raced twice in a single day, sometimes doing better in his second race. It was a great season. Jake had some really powerful performances. His win at Charm City was incredible, as was his 3rd in the Cat 4 at Hyattsville and his 23rd in the Cat 3/4 at Schooley Mill and his 2nd in the 15-18 at Rockburn. As of this week, Jake is ranked 12th IN THE COUNTRY among 14 year olds (i.e. "racing age 15") by USA Cycling. He was 11th before but some other boy seems to have moved up. I'm obviously radically proud. Next year we will make a real effort to build and take him to Nationals.
My season was so-so. Traveling nearly all week on 4 of the first 6 weeks really hurt my ability to be strong and consistent. But I had fun and had some good performances over the last few weeks. My thanks to Mike Birner for his coaching.
It was a great year for Squadra Coppi as well. Kimani won 2 races and had many podiums. Brad Evans had a huge year including his 2nd at Hyattsville. Best of all, yesterday, Brad went to New England and finished 3rd in the Ice Weasels Cometh, showing the New England cross scene what a class level of rider we have in the Mid Atlantic. It was great to race with Eric Blomquist who is easily teammate of the year (thanks for taking all our stuff today at the start of the Cat 3 race). Dave was an awesome addition from the west coast. Many others deserve mention. Adam Austin was out there today and finished 17th I think. Great to see him out there every week. Likewise Ryan Newell of The Service Course fame landed some seriously solid results in the 3/4 Masters races, proving that years of "tapering" really is training, and Mark Skubis was also solid in his rookie year in the Masters 3/4. There are too many others to mention and do justice to.
OF COURSE, the greatest thanks must go to Loren who supports me and the boys in these weekly pursuits. Thanks babe.
SO, THE BIG NEWS:
As alluded to previously, there are big changes now coming. Although a difficult decision to make, Jake will ride next year for the HPC-List Elite Junior Team. Much as he loves Squadra Coppi, this is a move that will help him step up to the next level of bike racing.
And in a last minute development, I will be President of Squadra Coppi next year. I'm hoping for a quiet but positive year. Seriously, quiet, do you hear me!
Check back for photos from the race if I can find some (Liam was supposed to come with us and take video but he bagged out this morning; he couldn't race because he had Sunday School at the Temple at the time of the 10-14 race).
The CXHairs video
Ok, I promised. I've finished my oral argument at the Fourth Circuit (went well, thanks), so here's the entry.
Sunday (12/4/11) was to be the last race of the MABRA Super 8 series, at the classic Lake Fairfax course in Reston, Va. A long-time favorite of mine. I was signed up for the 45+ 123 and Jake was going to do both the 15-18 and the Men's 3/4. The course is only 15 minutes from our house so it was going to be a nice easy day (well, except that I was freaking out about preparing for the oral argument).
Then on Saturday night, Liam says “am I racing tomorrow?” and I said “no, you’ve got Sunday school” and he says “no I don’t” and I said "Loren, does Liam have Sunday school?" Loren "No." So, I said to Liam “do you want to race” and he says “yes.” Result...we were getting up early for Capital Cross Classic. [On a side note, Liam scored the first basket and was awarded mvp in his basketball team's first game of the season Saturday morning, which was great for him].
It was cold when Team Thompson & Sons p/b Squadra Coppi arrived at the course after a lengthy 15 minute drive. Me and Liam jumped on the course so he could ride it before the Cat 4 race started at 8:30. It was still frosty on the grass. His hands and mine were freezing but he did well. When we came to the “chute” – a fast steep downhill in the woods with a sharp turn at the bottom – I went first so he could see me and as soon as I got down I turned around and he’s flying down at speed, gets to the "burm" at the bottom makes the turn, and I’m like “ok, well you’ve got that” (although it scared the crap out of him after he realized what he’d done).
So at 9:15, Liam lined up in a decent sized field. He rode really well.
He was riding the Chute every lap even though a lot of kids were running down it.
On his last lap he slid out at the top of the chute and dropped his chain. He stood up there for a long time trying to get started again and 2 kids that he had a big gap over passed him. I yelled to just run down. It turned out his chain wasn’t dropped so he got going again and caught one of the boys to make up a spot.
He finished 9th I think. He rode well and later in the day was going to ride the course for the heck of it between races.
Getting Liam all raced and such isn't great for my pre-race routine but I got a little warm up and at 11am I lined up with a big group of 30 guys in the 45+ 123. I was in the second row with my 11th place in the series. But I got the worst start all year, possibly in years; I missed my clip-in then got boxed in on the right side on the first turn off the road. I was way back, but set my mind to not panic. Early on I realized that I was climbing a little better than those I was with and made some good moves on the road, drafting people half way across then slingshoting past (and I sort of put that climbing thought into memory for later). I wasn't happy with how I turned the bike though so it was a trade off. I was really slow in the tight stuff before the Chute and the gravel turns.
I Rode with Bill O'Keefe and Pete Lindeman all race. A couple of times they gapped me (mainly in the turns before the Chute) but I was able to claw them back. It was a fun little battle and it was fun to hear Bill Scheiken on the microphone trying to figure out something clever to say about how me and Bill O’Keefe were the fathers of two really fast boys but we’re riding together. Finally he says we’re “not the fastest guys in our families”
On the last lap I sat on Bill’s wheel across the bridge and ran up the stairs in 3rd but then rode past them on the gravel climb heading toward the Chute. I'm pretty sure this photo by Joe Mallis https://www.joemallis.com/ is from the final lap. You can see me, then Bill, then Pete coming down the Chute.
My mistake was continuing to ride the deep mud at the bottom when we came out of the woods. Pete ran past me in the muddy section. The rest of the lap I fought to get back to him and was 10 feet behind him when we came out of the woods and hit the finishing pavement; I threw it in the big ring and went hard. I couldn't go around pete but in the meantime we caught Karl Kensinger, Pete’s teammate, who had been ahead of us all race, and I was able to hit a second sprint to pass Karl about 3 meters from the line. Karl had been 10 seconds ahead of us the entire race, so that was good. It was a good sprint. I had pretty decent legs although iffy handling.
I was 11th; really can't complain. It was the same as at Rockburn except I beat Pete that day. I couldn't ever beat Pete all year, but I beat a couple of guys today that I should and I beat Chris Huhn who has been strong (why couldn't I beat him at VACX). It turns out that if I could have beaten Pete I would have moved up into 10th for the series.
At noon, Jake lined up in a loaded field of 15-18 juniors. Several very fast 16-17 year olds were there, including Connor Bell and Jacob Miller and Shane Scoggin from HPC-List (and Andy Fleming was there for shits and giggles; he was sliding all over the place on bald cross tires, but seemed to be having fun doing it). From the series perspective, Jake only had to finish to make sure Jonah Merriem didn’t pass him into 3rd (Jake had a 20 point lead). Somehow the family luck was bad and Jake also got a radically bad start. The real drama, however, was that in the opening of the Elite women's race moments before the juniors start, an elite woman had crashed and broken her ankle. So after the boys finished their first lap the officials stopped them (and the women’s races) while the ambulance attended to the injured rider. There was a long (30 minute) wait in the cold and then they announced they would only do 2 laps. Well that’s not good for Jake. He got another bad start and ultimately finished 7th. Not his best but he did secure 3rd in the series.
Again he got a so-so start and was really shuffled backward in the opening few turns. Video over the barriers
In a group
But he fought hard and moved up to ultimately finish 31st out of about 75 starters, which is not bad. Here's a photo of Jake coming out of the Chute by Joel Gwadz of Gwadzilla fame.
The 3/4 was exciting, with Coppi Brad Evans hitting the front early. Then Kimani Neilsen moved into the top 5 with Brad. Kimani made his move to finish second on the last lap and Brad finished a strong 6th. Video:
Here's Jake coming through after:
and over the barriers again (I said lots of video)
As always, it was a great event and kudos go out to Bruce Buckley and his Bike Lane team along with Potomac Velo Club for teaming up to bring the race back after a year hiatus. It was good to hang around with friends. Jay Westcott (buy his book HERE) took a nice photo of me and Jeff hanging around afterward. Fun times.
The Cross season isn't completely over yet so I'm reluctant to do some sort of post mortem. I will say that the MABRA Cross Supert 8 lived up to its goals with consistently very high quality courses and events. My performances were a bit uneven, although perhaps consistent within a range, just not a range I'm quite happy with. Jake had some real highs and some real lows. Going in he said he wasn't motivated by the 15-18 series. He wanted to podium in the Cat 4 races. Of course he did that within the first 3 races, but he also struggled at Tacchino with the double up and couldn't finish the 15-18. But then he got stronger and was thriving with the 2 races. He really seemed to step up his game for the bigger fields in the Cat 4 and Cat 3/4 races. It's been a long season for him. He's done 19!!! races so far and Luray will be 20. Wow. Liam isn't the fastest naturally but I'm really proud of him for moving into clipless pedals and also for just wanting to keep coming out to race (and then ride the courses for fun).
The Sportif Cup and VACX races that we did were also really nice, well done and a lot of fun. It will be weird and sad when we're done for the year.
Yes, me Jake and Liam all raced today. It was the final race of the MABRA Super 8 series. But I have an oral argument at the Fourth Circuit on Tuesday so I'm cramming to prepare. No time for race reports. Tuesday night, I promise.
In short, I've got video and photos. Liam did well. Jake secured his 3rd place in the 15-18 category series, and I had a satisfying and fun race.
really, Tuesday night, I promise.
thanks for standing by, your patronage is important to us
This will be quick because work calls.
Thursday for Thanksgiving we went out to my dad's house. Lee cooked a yummy meal. Jake towered over his grandfather and Liam looked cute.
On Friday, Loren met up with some knitting friends while me and the boys shopped for new computers. That evening, against all my best intentions, we bought two new Mac laptops. Ugh.
On Saturday, Team Thompson & Sons p/b Squadra Coppi drove down to Charlottesville for the Virginia Championships which would be held on Sunday. We stayed at he Boar's Head Inn. As we were heading down there in early afternoon, there seemed to be unusual traffic and a lot of cars with Virginia Tech "flags" on their windows. Unbeknownst to us, Saturday was the Virginia v Virginia Tech football game, and it was in Charlottesville, so our ability to do much around town was pretty shot. We hung around the Inn grounds. A couple was taking a hot air balloon ride. It was cool to watch them inflate the balloon.
We took a quick drive over to Darden Towe Park to make sure we knew the way and to generally look at the course. It looked good, but Loren, who doesn't go to these things, said "it looks like someone is going to get hurt."
Sunday morning we headed over to the park. It was a beautiful, warm fall day. A bit windy.
In pre-ride the course seemed like it should suit me with lots of tight turns and short punchy climbs but I didn't feel super. Probably had too much to eat for dinner.
I got a decent start and I was doing ok, in the top 5-7, and right with a small group until mid-race when I cracked after trying to ride the run/ride hill one too many times. I had ridden it the prior laps while Chris Huhn ran it, but the ground was getting progressively more chewed up, and this time my wheels were spinning and I stalled near the top. I got to the top and expected to see 2 to go but the lap cards said 3 and I kind of went “ugh”.
I ended up 9th overall, really only losing 1 spot after my “ugh” moment but losing the ability to battle for a spot with the group of 2 or 3 I had been with. I was disappointed because Chris Huhn of Evo, who I was right with until my crack, got Bronze for the 45-49 after eliminating the NC resident and the 50+ guys like Fred Wittwer. I guess it was a case of “turn about” because last week at Rockburn I cracked Pete Lindeman by riding the sand when they were running and beat Chris Huhn (I think he had a bad day).
After my race, Jake and Liam lined up for the 15-18 and 10-14 races. Jake put up a valiant fight for 3rd but came up one short. 1st and 2nd went to 17 year olds who are Cat 2 on the road and/or expert MTB (Conner Bell and Chris Keeling; Connor Bell is super-fast, expert mountain bike racer, and Chris Keeling has ridden Wintergreen in something like sub 35-minutes, so like Joe Dombroski territory). I told Jake that in 3 years, he'll come out there and crush everyone too.
Jake was just beaten for 3rd by a 15 year old, Sam Winters, after a 2 man duel, basically because Sam was able to out run Jake on the big run up, making his move on the penultimate time up then holding Jake off the rest of the lap to the run up again. (random run up photo)
Here they are on Lap 2 when Sam had caught up to Jake.
And here they are on Lap 3. Jake is riding strong, but that's what he does, rides strong.
Sam made his move on the run up at the end of Lap 3, running by Jake.
Jake did beat Jake King, younger brother of US Pro Ben King, as well as a big contingent of other strong boys from the Miller School (he enjoyed seeing them again).
In the mean time, Liam was having a strong first lap Liam showed flashes of improvement but like dad suffered over the last half of the race. Here's video of him looking strong on the first lap.
It was a beautiful, if windy, day. And we had nice views driving home with the car loaded with bike wheels, three bikes on top, two bags full of riding gear, and a small bag for Loren's clothes.
Disappointing that we couldn't do more in Charlottesville. But it was nice that Loren could come.
Only 2 more weekends of races. Next Sunday is the classic at Lake Fairfax and then the Sunday after that it's the race to end all races. The battle of the century, as Jake and I both line up in the Cat 3 race at Luray to see who will reign supreme, the quick, wily veteran or the promising young star with the big engine. There can be no loser there because if he wins, I'm super proud and if I win, well, I'm a grown man beating up on a 14 year old "kid." Stay tuned for that one.
At the end of the season there will also be a big announcement about next year's racing plans.
Saturday, Team Thompson & Sons p/b Squadra Coppi went to Warrenton to do the Vint Hill cross race promoted by 540 Cycling. It was part of the VACX series so there was good participation from Southern Va. The course was the same as last year. Nothing inherently wrong with the course, but the ground is super bumpy (reminds me of Ida Lee). It really puts a beating on your body and makes it hard to put power to the pedals because your rear tire is bouncing around so much.
The main intent of doing this race was for my dad to come since he lives a few miles away and has been battling cancer for several years. He hasn't been doing well so I/we hoped this would be a good chance for him to see the boys race again (he was able to attend last year, as reported HERE). Unfortunately he called as we were driving out there to say he wasn't feeling well and couldn't make it. So that was a bummer. But we did go visit him after the races and had lunch with him, so that was nice.
I did the 45+. Strong group. I had a so-so race and wanted to save something for Rockburn. So I came across in 9th.
Jake and Liam lined up for the junior races. Only 2 boys in the 15-18.
Jake created a gap at the end of the 100 meter start stretch, had 30+ seconds by mid-first lap, and then put it in cruise control a bit to conserve for Rockburn. He won handily.
There were more boys in the 10-14 (a couple of very fast 13 year olds from southern VA)
Liam struggled with the bumps on his 24" bike, At least Liam made his first lap before Jake lapped him (despite my yells, Jake showed no love for his brother, not even slowing down a little).
Thanks here to Larry Byvik and 540 Cycling who were prepared to give my dad a special parking spot next to the course to watch, and for putting on this race in NoVa.
Saturday night we went to the MABRA (Mid Atlantic Bike Racing Association) awards. Jake was presented with a plaque for his BAR (best all around rider) award for winning the 10-14 BAR. I'm told he will get his BAR Champ Jersey next month.
On Sunday, it was just me and Jake heading up to Rockburn CX in Howard County. Rockburn is a classic course. I love it. Many good memories (see archive entries here and here). I've had very good races there. I did the 45+ 1/2/3. Had a good start and a good ride. Was close to the top 5 for the first lap. Got passed by a a few super fast guys like Randy Root to fall back a spot or 2. Did battle with Pete Lindeman mid-race but was able to drop him with 2 laps to go by riding the sand while Pete ran. By staying on the bike I was able to hammer away from the sand while he was still clipping in. Pete has been riding well all season and this was the first time I was able to beat him. Finished 10th 15 seconds or so behind Tori Wolfe. So again, with a top 5 made up of career Cat 1/2s and one former pro bike racer, I was satisfied. It was a good ride.
Jake did the 15-18. He had a great race. End of first lap he was in 2nd and just a few seconds behind first place Matt Ammenn, who is 17 and very strong. The gap to first grew to about 20 seconds, but Jake pulled a few seconds back at times.
Behind him, Brett Saunders (son of ex-pro Blair Saunders) was with Tanner Browne of Bike Doctor. It seemed that they were going to make a run at Jake, but Tanner crashed a few times and fell behind Brett, and Jake ended up putting 35+ seconds into Brett. Jake finished 2nd, breaking his streak of 3rds.
We couldn't stay but Kimani was in the front group of the 3/4, with Brad a little behind when we left. Good to see everyone. (editor's PS: Kimani finished 2nd in what was apparently an exciting battle).
Next week we're going down to Charlottesville to try the Virginia State championship instead of Taneytown. Whole family going to stay the night. I have no idea how we're going to fit everything in the car.
Jake and I rolled up to the Schooley Mill cyclocross race today. The course was dry and revamped from last year. I really enjoyed the changes. Course had excellent flow.
At 11am I did the “Elite” 45+. I got a good start and was in the top 5 in the first lap. It was a good course for me with good technical turns that let me recover and go faster than guys with more raw power. But I may have gone out a bit too fast. I lost a few places over the next lap and ended up with Chris Huhn of Evo, we were making our way toward Pete Lindeman who was fading a bit. With 1. 5 laps to go I got gapped off those guys go partially because of some lapped traffic and partially just lack of wattage. I finished 13th overall, but was 5th among the cat 3s (the top 5 were all Cat 1s and 2s, like Blair Saunders and Randy Root). I was satisfied if not thrilled.
At noon Jake did the 15-18 jr race. He and I had a good opener ride yesterday and he had produced some good power numbers so I thought he would have a good day. He rode well. He actually closed a gap from 3rd to 2nd after making it through some traffic from the 1/2/3 women, and was pulling back the leader when with 1.25 laps to go he rolled his rear tire on a severe off-camber. He was able to roll the tire back on the rim and get to the pit as I raced across the course to get there for the transfer. He finished on the pit bike but 1st and 2nd were gone. He was 3rd but dissappointed because he had the legs to contend for 1st and 2nd.
As a result, he had a stomach full of anger and wanted his revenge so decided to do the Cat 3/4 race.
So I offered to let him ride my bike. We raised the saddle on my bike (multiple inches). I don’t know if I was more worried about him or my bike at the chaotic start of the 3/4 ;-). Brad Evans was on the front row and Eric Blomquist was back in the scrum with Jake for the first time in his official Coppi jersey (Jake was #46 but somehow ended up on the 4th row). Jake got shuffled a bit on the first lap and was back around 40th or low 40s by my count. Eric had fared better and was in the high 20s/low 30s. But Jake started moving forward. He was moving forward at a good clip.
With 3 laps to go I yelled to Eric that Jake was coming up to them. Jake got to Eric's group with about 2 to go. Eric was an incredible teammate. He sat up so Jake would have a wheel. For the last 2 laps Eric pulled Jake even though Jake was telling him to go. There was a good wind and Eric's help made a difference.
here they fight the wind up the pavement seeing 1 to go (Jake not really getting any draft, just digging to hold on) I took this with my blackberry but I really dig this photo. I really captures the story of a cross race. One lap to go and you can only put your head down and dig into a deep dark place.
A group was coming up behind them and Jake said with 1/2 a lap to go he had to go around Eric who I guess was fading a bit. Jake finished 23rd and Eric 24th, which is awesome and scores them both series points. They left everything out on the course.
Eric is an awesome teammate. He helped pull Jake to his first top 25 in a big men's 3/4 race.
Jake was coated in salt after his 2 races.
Brad was disappointed but rode to a hard-earned 8th in the 3/4.
It was a fun day. Jon Burns heckled harder than he raced. Mark Skubis and Ryan Newall (of The Service Course) rode well in the 3/4 35+ with Ryan using his tapering training to score 14th and Mark 25th. Adam Austin rocked the 3/4 masters as well. Dave Pederson rocked the real "Elite" masters 35+, which was won by ex-pro roadie Dave Fuentes, then Andrew rode well in the 1/2/3 race, which was won by current pro Joe Dombroski (Jake’s quote as we walked to the car: “he’s going to win the Tour one day”). Sarah Crosskey got 2nd in the Women's 4 race after not racing for most of the season.
Pretty leaves when we got home.
Here's a shout out thanks to Loren and all the other wives (Jon Burns' wife, e.g.) who let us do this.
So, a couple of weeks back I won a raffle on Facebook for a free entry into a new, first year race in Harrisonburg, Va, the Rockburn Cyclocross Festival. This weekend was a break in the MABRAcross Super8 series and we didn't plan on making the trip to Granogue this year (next year we will), so we decided to go down to Harrisonburg. We've had some fun times at Virginia cross races in the past, like Bryan Park in 2008.
I did the 45+ race at 10 and Jake would do the 15-18 at 11.
We got there in plenty of time to pre-ride 4 or 5 laps. It was a short course, built on the side of a hill with a road start then a loose gravel climb, followed by some tight turns at the top of the hill, a triple barrier, then a more swooping fast lower half of the lap, which included a run up that had small barriers that begged to be hopped (but my old bones chose not to try). Then a last 200 meets of climb up to the final road stretch. We would do 8 5-minute laps.
It was a fairly small group. They start the 35+ 1 minute before the 45+. I'm in the second row behind the guys with VACX series points. Chris Huhn of Evolution is the only one I knew. I got a so so start stuck behind the group but was able to pass some guys on the loose gravel climb. Maybe in top 6 or so but the front 3 already had a little gap. After someone crashed on the triple barrier I moved up a few spots. Someone told me I was in 4th at some point. On the second or third lap a local guy came up to me from behind. He was strong on the road so I held on to him. Lots of people cheering for him ("Bill"). For the next 2-3 laps we were making our way forward, starting to pass some 35+ guys (who also cheered for him; interesting being the stranger from out of town). I could see that I was stronger than him on the gravel climb and, amazingly, over the barriers. With 2 or 3 laps to go I made my move past him over the barriers and quickly established a gap, starting to chase Chris Huhn who was in third maybe 5 or 10 seconds up. I rode alone for a lap chasing, growing my gap over 5th. The last time up the gravel hill I went hard and closed to within a few seconds of Chris. He knew I was coming and was taking risks, e.g., leg out on downhill off-cambers. Unfortunately I bobbled slightly through some mud that threw me toward a tree. I had to scrub speed and his gap then was too big for me to close with only 2 minutes left in the lap. I came across in 4th, which was cool.
Just like Bryan Park in 2008, it was a good building race. I felt good at Hyattsville last week and again felt solid all race today.
Jake's race was tough. The Miller School of Albelmarle brought a bunch of boys. Connor Bell, a 17 year old expert mountain bike racer, Chris Keeling, a 17 year old climbing Phenom who was second only to jeremiah Bishop and others at Devils Backbone. I told Jake to try and stay with them as long as he could. Well, he did, but maybe not the smartest strategy. He stayed with Connor for 2/3-3/4 of the first lap, then he was ahead of Chris Keeling for a bit in second, then he tried to stay with Chris for a bit.
Here he's just behind Keeling.
Then another older boy who looked to be a MTB racer (boy in red in the video) caught Jake mid race, moving him to 4th.
I could tell he was slowing down.
He said later that he got a stomach cramp. Going out too hard had caught up with him. 2 boys from Miller (who are older than Jake) caught him with about 2 to go and he was cracked. He finished 6th, which disappointed him. I'm sure that if he had ridden within himself he would have been 4th or at least dueled with the guy for 3rd (he was clearly older and strong). Lord knows I've gone out too fast and faded many times.
Luke Klausen also came and had a good race. Here he is on the run-up.
It was a fun race, even though Jake's result wasn't optimal. These smaller races can be a nice change of pace.
Saturday Jake and I went up to Sykesville for the Psycho Cross race, a new race in the “Sportif Cup” series. Jake did his first 3/4 race and did great, finishing 12th (out of say 30 or so). I did the elite 35+. It was a tough race. There was a run-up that really hurt (and my right achilles started to bother me). I had a great battle with Karl Kensinger of NCVC and was able to get around him just 1/4 of the lap before the end. I was 15th overall (I haven’t seen the 45+ break out). It was a good race. The officials weren't going to short change us and I ended up racing 58 minutes. Ouch.
Today, Jake, Liam & I went to Hyattsville CX, part of the MABRAcross Super 8. This would be Jake’s last Cat 4 race. He’ll do the 3/4 starting with DCCX. He was hoping to get a podium result in a Cat 4 race. Starting with a front row start, Jake immediately slotted into the front 4.
He got shuffled back a little early but by the end of the first lap was within reach of the front 2, but then had a hard crash and got caught in the tape. I came into this late at which point he was in 4th and the announcer was saying that Jake was chasing back. Here he's chasing over the barriers (he would catch this guy 2 minutes later).
On the last lap he caught and passed the guy in 3rd, blowing by him in his chase for the front 2. He didn’t have enough time to re-connect with the front but easily cruised across in 3rd. A great finish. I let the announcer do the talking this time.
Liam ended up riding with Will McNeely in his first CX race.
They had a tough time in the technical woods section.
Then I lined up for the 123 45+. My legs felt decent after Saturday. I got a good start and was in 4th until a little chaos in the woods on the first lap. I rode with Steve Dontigny for a bit but was faster than him on the flats so went around. Ultimately I ended up with Thori Wolfe of Route 1, who is super strong this year (he had dropped his chain like 9 times). We were chasing David Kay of DC Velo for the last 2.5 laps or so. I told Thori would help pull if he got us within strking distance. We came very close, but Thori pulled away from me in the last 1/3 of the lap. He finished 1 second behind Kay and I was 3 seconds behind him. I was 7th and was only 14 seconds behind 4th. It was the first race where I felt strong. So it was good.
Finally, Jake lined up for his 3rd race of the weekend in the 15-18 juniors. I kind of figured he’d be exhausted so I missed most of his race as I was at the car changing. But when I got back he and Tanner Browne were sprinting for 2nd and 3rd. Jake’s tired legs brought him another 3rd, which was great given how many races he had done at that point.
As we were about to leave, having just picked up the pit bike, we watched the start of the 3/4 race. Kimani took the hole shot but crashed making the turn on the pavement. His chain was all messed up. Jake ran down to help, and after too long I yelled to meet me at the pit. I ran down to the pit which was just 100 yards away. Luckily Kimani uses the same pedals and the Jamis Supernova was set up for Jake and it fit Kimani fine. We ran his bike to the mechanics who fixed the chain and the bent derailleur hanger. Kimani did an incredible chase to go from 1 minute behind the field into the top 30. In the mean time, Brad Evans scored a well deserved strong 2nd in the 3/4 field. A great day for the Squadra