I made the trip this last weekend out to Michaux state park to race Iron Cross. I did the Hilly Billy Roubaix earlier this year, so I had some idea of what I was getting myself into. I arrived at the start with Adam Newman from Dirt Rag after camping really close to the start. Rolling to the start line from the pre-race meeting, I knew I had to get a good position. I wanted to stay with the leaders as long as I could, and I knew there would be several bottlenecks leaving the starting ground. I was very lucky and had a front row position that led straight into the short course before we hit the road.
The organizer made some announcements then made the 30 second call. At the go, I made use of the good start technique from all the Tuesday practice starts. I grabbed the hole shot into the first turn. I was feeling pretty good. I let a few people around and was sitting comfortable in the top 5. We went through a narrow passage around a gate, and I knew people would be trying to squeeze through there for several minutes.
If I hadn’t done the HBR, I would have been afraid of hammering so hard so early in the race, but I figured that I would have plenty of energy for the day as long as I was able to drink enough. On the first hill up to checkpoint 1, I lost contact with the leaders and decided I had to ride at my own pace. After CP1, there was several miles of rocky single track. I was pretty sure my arms were going to rattle off, I was going to pinch flat, or just wipe out into some trees. I was feeling glad that I at least had in-line brake levers. I ended up with a couple of guys working pretty smoothly on the next road section and on a gravel climb several guys fell back. After crossing a grassy field I hit the first “run up”. I didn’t have bottle cages, so I was able to shoulder my bike while I passed a couple of people who were struggling up the steep rocky face along some power lines. I was definitely glad to see CP2 at the top.
Between the 2nd and 4th CP was sort of a blur. After CP4, I was starting to feel a little tired, I probably hadn’t eaten enough food before the race. I hit the second section of single track and my spirits dropped. There were quite a few log and tree barriers that I could have ridden, but didn’t. My hands were starting to get raw from all the vibrations. Three guys who I dropped earlier passed me quickly. I exited the woods and started to feel better. I hit the last run up and down the last descent before the finish. I dismounted over the barriers right before the finish, and remounted so I could cross the line on my bike. I drank some coke and ate a couple burritos and started to feel pretty good. I ended up 13th at just under 4h 20min.
I would do this race again (but maybe wear gloves next time). Steph Swan raced the women for ICBR with a good finish, despite breaking her chain near the beginning. So much fun!!
I packed up and left Friday morning to drive up to Cambridge NY with Rachel Weaver with the plan to race Battenkill and have a nice weekend. Rachel had things very well planned out so we wouldn’t have to stress. We had plenty of time to rest and get ready for the race. My normal plan for races is show up with just enough time to get registered and kitted up in time for the race. Although not my normal way to do things I listened to Rachel and planned for the extra night at the hotel.
Saturday we got lunch and walked around nearby Saratoga Springs and then headed up to Cambridge to get registered and ride for an hour easy. We got registered and then road the course backwards to the base of the final climb and then back to the finish. It was definitely very beneficial to see exactly what the last 10 miles or so of the course was like. We had a nice pasta dinner and headed to bed early.
Sunday morning up early for my 9:20 race start. I wanted to be one of the first people on the line with 150 people registered and lots of pot hole filled dirt road sections. Unfortunately everyone had that idea. By the time I got to the line the field scheduled to leave at 9:10 hadn’t left and there were already 30 or so people for my field lined up behind them. That didn’t turn out to be too problematic as I quickly worked my way up in the field.
It was very beneficial to be towards the front on the dirt sections as it was a lot easier to dodge pot holes when there were only a handful of people in front of you rather than 50. I did have a bit of a lapse entering one dirt section and let myself drop back in the field pretty far. That lapse in concentration cost me a bottle of water as I hit 5 or so pot holes in rapid succession. From then on I don’t think I dropped back further than 20th wheel and entered many of the dirt sections on the front of the field.
Like any race I do that isn’t a 1/2/3 race the pace was lethargic and nobody wanted to work or go hard. A few attacks happened early one of which was a guy going away solo who ended up winning my race. A few people including myself got together to work but after a few minutes of 5 people pulling a 150 person field around we quit that and sat in. I never looked back to see how big the field was behind me but knew it had to be at least 20-30 riders based on who I was seeing at the front periodically. At about mile 50 out of 64 I decided I did not want a group sprint of that size to deal with. I decided to attack shortly after on a slight uphill grade. I stayed away for only a few miles before the field decided to bring me back in. I tried attacking once more before the final climb with to no avail. I was very determined to put it all out there and not just sit in for a field sprint and attacked hard on the final climb and dirt section of the day. I traded surges back and forth with one other rider up the climb only to be caught by a handful of riders by the crest. The final miles into the finish are very flat and fast capped off by two 90 degree right hand turns and 100 meters(?) of choppy pavement to the finish.
Again after we were a group of 7 or 8, despite actually working together, we were caught by another 10 or so guys. At that point I got to the back of the group to see what would transpire. At the 2 KM to go mark we had full use of the road and the attacks started to go one after another. The attacks were coming form alternating sides of the road so the group was swinging back and forth violently. I completely expected a crash. I had decided I was definitely contesting the sprint despite the high chance of crashing. I rationalized that I had trained too much driven too far and put too much into this race not to. I formulated a plan to attack at a road crossing right before the two 90 degree turns leading into the finish. I jumped and got in front of the group early enough to set myself up well through the first 90 degree turn. I had to dive hard inside of a guy who had been dropped from the field in front of me through the second turn. I hit the gas and went as hard as I could coming out of the second 90 degree turn. I was honestly amazed no one came around me by the line. It was a bit surreal that I had won the field sprint and gotten second in the CAT 3 race at one of the largest one day races in America.
Definitely couldn’t have done it alone. Rachel’s support, great planning, and foresight to get there early and not have to rush around helped more than I could have imagined. Chris Mayhew (JBV Coaching jbvcoaching.com) had me peak at just the right time, I felt really good for the whole race. Chris also gave me a ton of advice on top of training plans. My teammates who either couldn’t be there or were in another race have helped me tremendously whether through racing tactics advice, bike maintenance help, or just support. It’s also great to be part of the Pittsburgh bicycle racing community that is so supportive. This was a pricey race to attend but made possible by great sponsors such as Iron City Bikes, Full Pint Brewing, Over the Bar Bicycle Cafe, and Urban Velo to name a few. Thanks for the support eveyone!
The spring road season is already upon us. The team has started the 2011 season right with several podium finishes already. The weekly ACA oavl crit series started last night. We’ve sent squads down to each of J.R. Petsko’s races this spring — both of the Amity races and the Morgantown Road Race. Paul Carlson has also made a good showing at a few races in eastern Ohio.
Amity #1. Photo by Fred Jordan.
Morgantown. Photo by Chris Buehler.
Saturday, February 19 at 7:00pm
The Yeti is back at OTB for another intense session of Black and Goldsprints for 2011. Iron City Bikes and Urban Velo have paired up once again to bring you a crazy night of indoor bicycle racing, music, and beer.
Head To Head Bicycle Racing
Qualifying will begin at 8pm @ Over The Bar Bicycle Cafe
No experience needed
$10 to race, first 30 to register will get a free tshirt
$2 Full Pint Brewing Beers while they last – 100% of Beer Sales goes to the Team
Sponsored By: Urban Velo, Full Pint Brewing, Fat Heads, OTB Bicycle Cafe, and Iron City Bikes
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This last weekend saw a couple of great cross races within easy driving. Kickoff cross was the first race in the WV cross series put on by J.R. Petsko. Dry conditions and a flat course favored riders with a lot of power, with few good places for beer ups. Rob Lochner competed in the singlespeed and 3/4 categories with a 5th place in ss. Eric got a top 10 finish in the 1/2/3 race, and Stephanie represented in the W1/2/3 race. In the 3/4 race, I flatted away from the pit and decided to take Jason B’s mt bike for a lap.
His shoes were too small, so we met back up in the pit and I stole Eric’s front wheel (thanks by the way Eric). I didn’t finish very well, but ICB managed to score some points for the team overall.
Sunday was a whole other story. Overnight rain and half mountain bike course design led to some very muddy condition in the MOM Grove City cross race. The course started with a one lap promenade on pavement which easily spread out the sport from the beginner racers. The course turned sharply onto some tight muddy sections which the experts had previously torn up. A few small climbs sprinkled the singletack section which gave way to a more taditional cross section around some baseball fields. God handling in deep mud would definitely help here. The course then finished with a paved section with an off camber 180 10om before the finish. A good time was had, Rob, Ted, and Stephanie were also there to rep ICB.