Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Krugers Mudfest

Sunday was a cross race out at Kruger's Farm on Sauvie Island. They typically hosted the pre-cross season Kremesse races, but this year they were unfortunatetly canceled due to some permitting issues. However, they were able to figure things out for the post-Crusade race. I've heard stories about this venue from last year - cornhusks and mud mix eat bike parts. So I was prepared for a mess.

photo from PDXcross.com

We drove out in the pouring rain and I was expecting some epic conditions. I was running alittle late, but I got the trainer setup in the tent and was ready for a warm-up. It was horizontal rain and really cold. About 60 seconds into the warm-up, the wind howled and blew over the tent. Into the course. Hitting a rider that was racing. What a mess! Whoever setup the tent forgot to stake it down. Needless to say, I had no warm-up since we had to setup a different tent.

No call-ups, so I got out to the start line alittle early to get a decent start position. I started in the third row which was great. Talked to a couple guys I raced with last year in the C crew and talked about how the Crusade series was a new experience since we upgraded. The skies parted and the sun came out for the start of our race and remained that way the entire time.

Start horn goes off and we're on our way..... slowly. Wow, it was muddy and slippery. The water puddles were deep. There was a section of mud next to the corn field with SUPER thick mud. It was unbelievably hard to pedal in. I finally just got off my bike and ran. I hate running, so it was that bad. However, running that section proved to be a good thing on the 2nd and 3rd lap.

I found myself passing folks on the 2nd lap. The course was flat. However, the deep mud made for leg zapping pain. It was a slugfest. My mind was wandering and I wanted to quit many times, but I knew everyone else was in the same boat. I found that running the real deep mud section I was able to maintain the same speed as the guys riding. I'd get back on the bike and crush them in the next section since they zapped their legs so bad riding that section.

I caught one of my PV team-mates on the 3rd lap in that deep section. John is a super strong rider and always did well in the Crusade races with his call-up position. I was pumped to catch him and drop him after the deep section (finished 2 spots ahead of him).

Overall a very, very hard race. Probably the hardest cross race of the year. Mud was EPIC. I placed 13th out of 48 racers. One of my best results of the year. Very happy with that.

I'm in the "peaking" section of my training plan. I've really done all the work I can to get stronger this year. No more of that. Now it's time to "sharpen the edge" with shorter and intense workouts. Next race is USGP series on 12/5 and then nationals aon 12/12. I'll be racing the 40-45 open category with the "big boys". This extra challenge is motivating me for the last efforts of the season. I'll be looking forward to a break from the bike after that!

Check out photos of the EPIC mud at PDX Cross.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Crusade Complete - End is Near

Barton Park on November 15th was the finale of the Crusade Series. I still hadn't secured any call-up points so my start spot was left to "random" chance again. I started about the middle of the pack, so it didn't really suck. I knew the course was fast and plenty or room to pass, so I was ready to roll.

Unfortunately, I neglected to select proper tire pressure for this rock garden. Not sure what I was thinking. My front tire became a victim about 10 yards past the pit on the 1st lap. It sealed with some air left in it, so I was able to ride it in the less rocky sections. Otherwise, it was quite a run back to the pit.

Luckily I stuck with it and got 3 more laps of "fun" after the wheel change. It was fun because I was so far off the back that I just concentrated on going fast with good form in the slick mud. I wasn't DFL so I guess it wasn't a total loss.

Thoughts on the Crusade series:
1) I knew it was going to be a tough year since I upgraded to the B group. I couldn't expect results like last year. It would take me a year to "earn my wings".

2) Race results were decent. In the 25-30 range out of 80-130 persons. I typically started middle of group to the back, so I did alot of passing.

3) Alpenrose was my mistake of the season. I raced the day before and put in some huge efforts for a 3rd place finish in a small Salem race. I thought I'd get a poor call-up. Turned out it was my best all season. I could have easily got top 18 if I didn't race the day before. Oh well, water under the bridge.

4) Figured out I have plenty of fitness to race in this group. Felt good to be able to compete at this level. I passed tons of people at Rainer and Astoria.

spot - location - date
65 - Barton Park - 11/15/2009
26 - Astoria - 11/01/2009
26 - Astoria - 10/31/2009
32 - Wash County Fairground - 10/25/2009
30 - Rainer - 10/11/2009
24 - Alpenrose - 10/04/2009

Crusade 2010:
My key goal for 2010 will be to make the top 10 in the Master Bs. I'll maintain and improve my fitness by road racing in the category 3 and master's open group. I'm going to upgrade on "experience points". I need to race with a faster/harder group to improve. No need to hang around and beat up on the category 4 group.

Here's one of my favorite photos of the year. It's out at Barton Park after my wheel change. I hate running and really had no need to push it. However, that's what cross racing is about. Digging deep and pushing yourself at all times - always make it count.

Three more races for me this year. Two of them will be with the "big boys" in the masters category for my age. Last challenge for the year.