Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Last weekend I went down to Georgia and I was lookin' for a soul to steal. I was in a bind and way behind and wanting to make a deal.....
It was the first annual (I know that's dumb when people say that but this event was great and it will absolutely be back for years to come) Southern X Epic cross race. It was held at Mulberry Gap which is just outside of Ellijay, Ga. It was upper 40's and raining when we started and the rain did let up but it was still quite treacherous conditions. We took a "true cyclocross" loop on the grounds of Mulberry Gap to start which included a creek crossing, 2 run-ups, a paved short hill and a muddy tall barrier.
I had decided before the race that I just wanted to have fun and not ride my guts out. I knew that I had a better chance of enjoying it if I stayed with my friend Adam for accompaniment and to not overexert early.
After the cross elements, we descended a gravel road that was beside a beautiful stream that was almost tempting us to stop and just look around. We were toward the back of the riders just knowing that the climb would be long and difficult so we figured that we'd probably grab a huge chunk of the field going up it. and that's precisely what happened.
We hit the bottom of the gravel road climb that was pretty steady with it's grades for the first 3-4 miles. The road conditions were nice and we were riding a nice tempo and passing people like they were standing still!
After a good 30-45minutes of solid climbing, we started thinking, this will be over in a bit, but no way! The road got steeper and sloppier and it became brutal! There were times where we were in our 36-27 and barely turning over the pedals. It was nasty. We hit some dense fog up towards the top of the ridge that was 20 yards or so of visibility. I must have said 4 or five times, "this has to be the top". When we finally did hit the top, a guy that we had passed earlier caught back up to us and I made the decision that I didn't want anyone to pass me for the rest of the ride. So he and I went down the descent together.
It was a cool descent! The gravel roads were relatively dry and the only real issue was that my brake levers were rather difficult to get to in the drops. I lost the guy I was with, a little more than halfway down and proceeded to catch 3 more people before the "wall".
When we came back to Mulberry Gap, they had us scramble up this hillside that was never intended to be scaled. It would have been difficult without a bike on your shoulder much less after 3 hours of riding in the mud and rain! I caught one more guy before the finish. It was a blast! Next year I know I'll ride a bit more aggressively at the beginning and see how I can do.
Thanks to all those who put on the race and for those of you who didn't come, get ready for next year! You will love it! Check out the recap on cyclingnews as well.
Also, we went to Poole's Barbeque after. It was nice!
Monday, January 12, 2009
Monday, October 27, 2008
Goto the Floridacross Blog to see the photos
I raced this past weekend at the U.S. Gran Prix of Cyclocross in Louisville, KY. I was so excited about this race, not only because it was my first cross race with more than 20 people entered in my race, but also because I was getting to stay with my college housemate Ben Chisman and his family, who live just outside Louisville. Also, my other college housemate, Dom Fuhrmann and his family plus my father-in-law Don Pratt and his foster kids were going to come out in support of me.
The course started on the road and after 200m or so, took a left turn onto the grass. It was all on the grass and had a good amount of twists and turns but still some good sections for passing. It also had; 1 set of barriers, 5 sand traps and 1 Green Monster. They only changed the course slightly for Sunday and it had little effect on the flow of the course.
Saturday, I started on the 5th row in position #46. I had a sub-par start but quickly started to work my way up on the 1st and 2nd lap. My race was 40 mins and I needed all of them. I crashed approx. 5 times, of which only 1 or 2 were by fault of my own. The other crashes were caused by traffic getting in my way through some of the technical sections. I finished 15th out of approx. 70 riders and I was very pleased, considering where I started.
On Sunday, I was under the logical impression, and a apparently misinformed race official, that I would start on the 2nd row and position #15 due to my finish the day before. I'm not the best starter, so I felt like this would be of benefit to my race and I would defiantly finish in at least the top 10. Well, having been born under a bad sign, this did not happen. They again started me on the 5th row and in 46th position. I didn't know they were starting us in the same spot until we were at the start for the call ups. This really bothered me and got in my head. To make it even harder, right after the start we turned onto the grass and I dropped my chain. I immediately went to the very back of the race, dead last! Well, I gained my composure and started working my way up. I only crashed once when a rider went down right in front of me in one of the sand traps. I felt really strong the whole time and did my best to move up as much as possible. I finished 16th.
There were so many people cheering for me by name that I thought that there must have been another guy on the course named Hank who was close to me. It was awesome! Next year I'll race the Elite race and really get my butt kicked, but I'll defiantly have a big support crew!
Here's a video, that is not from me but at about 2:30 you'll see me in the red jersey and hear Don yelling for me. Thanks Don.