Sunday, September 30, 2012

Norm Does the Whirlybird

Whirlybird 2012, race #5 in the 2012 version of the MAC series, which is a mere 8 races this year for no good reason. Where are we? We are in Bensalem, PA. For those not intimately familar with this place, it's kinda not really anywhere. Regardless, I get to not really anywhere in about an hour from my parent's place up the river in PA, near Easton. At this god awful time of day, it only takes an hour. Getting home would be another story, which I wont tell here other than to say it can be summed up in a few words: cars & traffic lights. We've all been there.

I've set a goal for myself this year, to finish top 10 in the 35+ class in the MAC series. Now most people who do a series know that more often than not, the series is over after 2-3 races, and only 5 guys will end up doing the whole thing. But the 35+ is different. And people seem to keep going in this one. A top 10 would be an accomplishment, at least for this guy. I came into the series 15th, and managed to draw bib #110, putting me in the second row in the starting grid. With some of my competition up at Glouctester today, I know that things will be a little thinner in this race. But the bulk of the series leaders are there, which I guess at this point includes me, for better or worse. 

So...since the series is my main goal this year, I came into this week off the Charm City double and did exactly zero rides this week. I put this in I Am Ted King's category of eating salad as a pre-race meal, listening to NPR on the warmup, and doing jumping jacks before your race. You know, sometimes life gets in the way. Life can be good like that. So we show up to the race, possibly the MAC race where I will have my best shot at a top 10, in absolutely no form, with no miles in my legs, and severely underslept. I did drink 2 beers the night before, since it was National Drink Beer Day and all. So I had that going for me. Which...well, you know. 

But first, the team circus tent gets put up:

Yes, that is me sitting down with the blue hat on, doing absolutely nothing to warm up for the race. I figure, if you're going to something poorly, might as well do something poorly with absolute authority. Shortly after this picture was taken, I eat 4 fat-free fig newtons. I don't know what that has to do with anything. But it may help complete the puzzle. I also ate 2 PB & bagel sandwiches at 8:00 am. My race was at noon. I guess I had some coffee this morning too. You're writing all this down, right? No? Well that's ok, I got you covered. 

So to warmup, I do the following:

2 warm laps before the C race at 9
1 warm lap before the 45/55 race at 10
1 hot lap before the women's race at 11
Then I sit on the trainer until I get bored, maybe 20 minutes? I forget. It was boring. 

Note: after the first lap, the lack of an actual "whirylbird" is evident. So this means that 50% of the MAC series is now misnamed, HPCX & 2xNittany being the others. No matter, it has all the elements of a cross race, namely grass, tape, barriers, and 2 miles of course in an area that does not seem able to support that long of a course. So we're good. Titles are superficial anyway. 

Flashing back to Charm City the week race on day #1 was pretty poor, and I had come off a rest week, and did nothing really to warm up. So instead of doing more or less nothing, I warmup up properly today, both before and after eating the newtons. I drank some water and scientifically constructed sports drink at various points beetween 8 and 12. And I had 2 GUs. Given that I am up over 180 pounds right now, I figure those 50 grams of sugar are going to make or break my day. I consider eating 16 more, but decide I'm still going to need to fit into that dress come Monday morning when I need to go to work. 

I wheel the pit bike over and Lance offers to tend the pit for me, which is nice. I get to the start grid and do a few race starts, and check out the prolog a bit. Then I do some circles like you will often see 10-15 minutes before the start of these races. Before long, enough of us have congregated and the officials blow whistles, look at their clipboards, say the same things we've all heard 243 times, and line us up to start the race. I am in the second row, all the way to the left. Roger Aspholm is in the same row, 2 riders to my right. I have as much of a right to be lining up with Roger as I have being on the court with Michael Jordan. I actually used to have a solid 3 point shot. So maybe I actually belong on court more than this starting line. 

No matter, you get the point. 

You may be thinking at this point, boy, this is awfully long for not even having started the race yet. Just hold on, it gets less exciting soon enough. 

The whistle blows, and I feel really good, so I mash and stick up close to the top 10, which has been really hard for me so far this year. Either the warm-up is working, I'm getting used to this, or the week of not riding and staying up too late is some sort of magic potion to good race starts. I'm opting for the latter. 

Soon I am on Roger's wheel, and I stick there as long as I can. This lasts about half a lap or so. When Roger zigs, I zig. When Roger zags, I zag. But when some douche flies up and dives a corner, slams into Roger, and knocks him to the ground, I decide not to fall down and follow him here. I ride on and pass Roger. Not for long, but I pass him nonetheless. I think I am sitting in 14th at this point. 

Soon, Roger passes me, and I try to jump on his wheel again. It works for a little bit, but his acceleration out of corners is too much for me. I do end up sitting on some other guy's wheel for quite a while, and figure I'm content there, as I think I am going to be able to keep him in sight, and the waiting game of him cracking will pay off eventually. 

But that never happens. Somewhere in the second lap he gaps me a little out of a corner, and I can't respond. He manages to bridge up to a Kissena guy, and they work together for a while, basically keeping a 6 second gap on me for what feels like forever. At the end of lap 2, they have firmly established that 6 second gap. I am in 15th. 

Lap 3, nothing happens.

Lap 4, nothing happens. 

Lap 5, nothing happens. 

Lap 6, nothing happens. But Chris does inform me, "The guy ahead of you is an hour ahead. The guy behind you is an hour behind. Just ride it out."

So I ride it out. And I finish 15th. This is my best result in the MAC series to date. I came into the series in 15th, and 5 guys did not show. I figure this can only help my series standings overall. Maybe I get lucky and jump up to 13th after today. Or who knows, maybe 12th if I get more lucky. I guess we'll see in a few days when the series standings come out. I'm sure you'll all be waiting at the edge of your collective seats. 

So the moral of the story is this: don't ride, drink wine (yeah I left that out), stay up late, and have your best result of the year. I...hesitate to suggest everyone run out and do this. But science is science. And this is the data I have. Make of it what you will. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nittany Cross Weekend in Photos

MTBNJ had a huge gathering of people this weekend at the Trexlertown Veledrome for The Nittany CX Weekend. Good weather and a great course made for a great 2 day event. Words don't really describe these events well; You have to be here to enjoy them. Photos help though:

ChrisRU railing the corners on Day 2. Much drier grass meant much faster race.

The MTBNJ tent in full swing on Day 1. Also doubled as a daycare for some. Base of operations had many special guest appearances.

Norm suffered a bad start at Day 2, but picked his way through the pack for a great finish.

Gotta eat; In between laps in the pits with Pearl and Norm.

Ilya had a messed up chain on Day 2, but finished strong.

Jeremy and Pearl on Day 1 found the way to the main group, but only one finished with it.

Robin and Melissa in the mix.

The CX ladies after the 3/4 race on Day 2.

Allison seemed to be passing someone every lap on both days.

Eric stylin' over the infamous Nittany log feature on Day 2.

Jeremy over the barriers on Day 1.

4'11 and barriers? No problem. Mandi throwing her bike to the moon!

Note the shades; Mandi was in a tight battle the whole race with Michelle Lee; Great racing by both!

ChrisRU, Pearl and Brad on the only real climb of Day 2.
Brad on the run up; With two great finishes over the weekend.

Norm up and over; floating.

The highlight of the day is here, Capers on Day 2 uses his bike as a machete to cut through the competition.

Jeremy touched the podium both days, 2nd on Day 2.

One thing about cross is the whole weekend is a blast. Spending quality time with your buddies after you suffered for 40 minutes is what this whole sport is about. The MTBNJ tent will head south to Baltimore, MD for the second stop in the MAC Series, Charm City. Others will travel north for the Westwood CX race up in Harriman, NY. Where will you be?