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  1. #1
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    Race Report: CCCX #6 (long and moderately self-indulgent)

    This weekend I did my first mountain bike race, race #6 of the CCCX series. I chose to race the beginner class, since I didn't want to screw anybody's race up with my ignorance, but also because the Sport class (the next one up from beginner) raced 22 miles last time. Since the Sport riders race an extra lap, I thought it would be a case of discretion being the better part of valor.

    The down side of racing beginner is the 9am start. So we were up at 5:45 to drive down to Monterey for the race. We got there with about a half an hour to spare, and after registering, I found myself with about 10 minutes till it was time to start lining up for the start. In classic fashion, I started to warm up, and promptly got lost. There was a sign pointing toward the start line, and I headed down the road to find it. I immediately hooked up with another guy also looking for the line, and we wandered around for 15 minutes befor finding the startt right by the original sign. Fortunately, this turned into a decent warmup, and the start was a little more casual than I am used to, since there were 15 riders per class, rather than the 40 or more per class from cyclocross season. As usual, there was much discussion at the start about how none of us had even mentioned the word "bike" since the last race, and how we were all worried that the recent sickness/sprained ankle/dislocated shoulder/leg amputation might get in the way of our performance. There really oughtta be a word for the kind of reverse sh!t-talking that goes on at bike races. Nobody (at my level, anyway) ever says "yeah, I've been training really hard and I feel great today!" From everybody's stories, you have to figure that Job would fit right in at the start of a beginner bike race: "Well, my training was going ok, till right after the last race, my house collapsed and killed my kids, and then fire came down from heaven and melted my bike, so that was a little tough, but what I really think is gonna hurt me today is the leprosy."


    Waiting for the start

    The course was mostly single- and doubletrack, with a few wider sections and three road segments. It was overall pretty flat, with one dirt climb out of the start/finish line and one road climb as well. The official let us know that we would be racing four laps, not three as it says in the website, and I was a little worried when one of the guys in the group mentioned that he had ridden the course and it was right about 5 miles. It was at that point that I realized I was gonna have to race 20 miles!

    Anyway, they started the groups out in waves, with the juniors (under 18s) first, then the 19-34s, then my group, the 35-44s. I started pretty well, for once, and actually made it to the first trail section in first! I then fetched up immediately behind the last guy in the group before, and my failure to be aggressive about passing was exposed. A few seconds later, a train of four guys from my group came sailing by. I was able eventually to get around the guy and catch up to them, right before the next road section. On that section I was able to get into the middle of what was now a five-person group, and was third heading into the first extended trail section. I held onto the second-place guy's wheel for most of the first lap, until I simply lost traction going into a corner, and slid out. The fourth-place guy blew by me almost immediately as I was getting myself recombobulated, but shockingly, noone else came by in the 40 seconds or so it took me to get going. I realized as I got going that I had lost the fancy Smith Slider sunglasses my girlfriend bought for me for $5 from some homeless guy on the street, but of course competitive juices got the better of me, and I left them there for some lucky person to find (or maybe to grow a sunglasses tree, who knows?).

    I was now fourthish, as far as I knew, and there was noone around me, particularly, so I kept going, notching down a little in the corners. The next lap and a half or so were pretty uneventful. I passed a few people, mostly the bottom two-thirds of the juniors and a few of the 19-34s. I realized that especially with the juniors, I can beat most of them up a hill, but they are way more mountain bikers than me, and can take me to school on the twisty stuff.

    I passed one kid on the road climb and he latched on to me for a while. I offered to let him pass, but he responded "No, I like your speed." At the end of lap 2, I towed him up to two more of the junior riders, and looked to pass them. I finally got around them, only to come in too hot on a turn and go very wide. The guy who had been following me and one of the other guys got by me, and I was stuck behind them for a while.


    Chasing one of the juniors


    finally got around that kid!

    I got by them on the climb at the beginning of the third lap. By this point I was beginning to realize that this race was LONG. Soon after the start of this lap, some guy in my class came rocketing by me. I had no idea where he came from, but he was gone pretty damn fast. This was pretty much the low poing for me, as I realized I was only half done, and I could feel acid in my stomach and my bike was starting to ghost shift a little (I assumed I bent or knocked something awry in my crash). I kept going, though, and actually rode a pretty good half lap. As I came around the backside of the course, the bike really started to rattle. Now, the damn thing's only a month old, so I was thinking to myself "man, this thing's a piece of junk! I can't believe something's already shaking loose!"

    At that point I looked down and noticed that the front quick release was hanging open.

    I guess I had not tightened it enough when I put the wheel back on after getting it out of the car. I immediately stopped and tightened the wheel (losing another 30 or so seconds), and resolved never to complain about the lawyer tabs on the fork again.

    By the final lap, I was really starting to hurt. I knew I was gonna finish, but every climb was a struggle (and I like climbing!). On one of the road climbs, there was a woman sort of cruising along on her road bike watching the action. I couldn't help but wonder what she thought as I struggled along, slumped over my bars, grinding away. I didn't have the energy to ask, though. Oddly enough, my upper body was really feeling the worst. I was somewhat convinced my arms were going to fall off.


    As I got toward the last third of the lap, I started to feel like there was someone behind me. At one point I thought I saw someone back there, but wasn't sure. I started to pick up the pace a little, anyway, though, although still trying to stay in control, so as to avoid a crash.

    I was pretty crushed to make the turn onto the last 50 yards to the finish and see the sign saying "1 lap to go"! I was pretty sure that I had done the whole 4 laps, but I had a shred of doubt. As I crossed the line, though, the offical called out "197, you're done". I just had time to pull up when the guy who was chasing me came through. He was in my class, and I ended up beating him by a mere 7 seconds.

    Overall, though, I was pretty happy with my results. I got 5th place (of 15), and did the 4 laps in 1:23, which is twice as long as the longest cross race I did. I did wake up today, two days later, feeling like a party bag of ice that someone had thrown in the sink and whacked a bunch of times with a hammer to make sure the pieces were all small. I had fun, though, and am somewhat more inspired to keep riding.

  2. #2
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    Great race and report, I was the guy 3.43 min. behind you and in 11th place.

    Jeff Hecox

  3. #3
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    Yeah, I was shocked to see how far the guy ahead of me was ahead of me: Almost 2 minutes! So even my various mishaps dodn;t really make the difference, I guess.

    Jeff, is it true that each race is longer than the last? And how many of these have you done?

  4. #4
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    Sashax you ran a great race, all you need to do is get some clean laps in and knock 1 min and 10 sec. off each lap and you will be right there on the podium with trophy girls and champagne. Ok maybe that was some other race, all I saw sunday was card table, bananas and some bottled water.

    That was my 5th race ever on a bicycle and yes the races do seem to get a little longer each time by maybe a mile or two.

    They seem to run every other race in the opposite direction with a slight change in the course with the total ascent about the same.

    You can pre ride the course in the morning, but that might have work against me on Sunday since I finished my pre ride lap 5 min. before the start of the race, or maybe it was the MTBR ride Saturday at Soquel Demonstration or the Weds. Kennedy hill climb, or feeding my cat, I have many more excuses just give me some time.

    Jeff
    Last edited by jeffh; 01-05-2007 at 06:02 PM.

  5. #5
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    Good race report, quite entertaining Seems like you need to work on some fitness and technique and then it'll be time to move up to sport Seems like you did quite well, just weren't accustomed to the distance. Wish we had racing down here
    One day your life will flash before your eyes, will it be worth watching??
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  6. #6
    XCdude
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    Nice report and pics too, the first xc race

    is always the hard one because you arenīt sure about anything, training, distance ,what to bring, how fast to go and so on. But to me you did pretty good, you will get better and you will get on the box. Adding on more lap as you stand on the starting line is pretty cold hearted , but now you know you can handle the distance So a little more training and you can beat some of the sand baggers.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by sashax
    Jeff, is it true that each race is longer than the last? And how many of these have you done?
    They do get longer throughout the seaon. I race the sport 34 & under and the first race was 4 laps and 18 miles, if I recall correctly. The more recent races have had shorter laps, but more of them. Sunday's was 5 laps and 25 miles. Maybe next week will be 5 laps and 30 miles? EEK!

  8. #8
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    Yeah. maybe I wasn't clear that I was pretty happy with my results. I knew I wasn't totally up to snuff with my training, but I was pleased to be top third of the field, which is what my goal was...

    I also figured that had I raced Sport, I would have ended up not last (assuming a 25 min last lap), so that's encouraging...

  9. #9
    bikerbert
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    ... and if we just ... That was me chasing you at the end without any luck!

    Sasha,

    Great race! I was the guy (#196) chasing you at the end. I was busting my butt to catch you on the last lap, but you were way too strong. Awesome job. In fact, not being able to catch you on 6/18 made me ride even harder in today's race (I finished 5th behind the four Uber Men). You would have liked the way they layed out today's course. VERY fast, but a lot of fun.

    I want all the riders from the CCCX Beg Men 35-44 that I met to know I thought everyone was great, and I enjoyed meeting all of you! Especially Jeff for saving my butt with his wrench so I could get my hitch rack working on 6/18 for the ride home.

    If any of you ever ride in the Santa Cruz area or off of Hwy 35 (Saratoga Gap, etc,) please drop me an email, I'd love to join you. In fact, if anyone is up for putting together a Yahoo! group for posting rides, I'd be more than happy to manage it.

    Al Painter
    al@loyolalats.com

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikerbert
    Sasha,

    Great race! I was the guy (#196) chasing you at the end. I was busting my butt to catch you on the last lap, but you were way too strong. Awesome job. In fact, not being able to catch you on 6/18 made me ride even harder in today's race (I finished 5th behind the four Uber Men). You would have liked the way they layed out today's course. VERY fast, but a lot of fun.

    Al Painter
    al@loyolalats.com
    Hey, Al, looks like you almost caught some ohter guy this weekend! You are definitely really strong at the end. I knew you were vaguely back there, but by the end I could practically hear you breathing down my neck.

    If you are looking for folks to ride with, you should check out the Norcal board. There are always rides being organized over there, and most of them tend to be in the South Bay.

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