Thursday, June 02, 2011
Crossing swords with JJ
My wife makes it look easy.
I typically don’t get too excited over racing on pavement, but there’s something about racing at Snake Alley that gets me all riled up. For whatever reason, I have a pretty decent track record in the 40+ and 30+ categories at the Snake and that record has increased my expectations for the race every year. So, for this year I was really hoping for that elusive double W in the 40+ and 30+ races.
The 40+ race started out on a wet course and I was about as close as one can come to not starting as I’m not a big fan of racing on wet pavement. I took my usual place at the back of the group, alongside Jeff Barnes. We had both gotten off to a slow start and were near the back of the pack at the top of the Snake. I took it easy on the first few descents down the wet backside of the course. Taking risks on the wet corners was not in the equation for me as I have bigger fish to fry later in the season on the mountain bike.
After a few laps, the course started to dry and I was finally able to let it all hang out. By then, however the lead group had pretty much shattered as a couple of guys had taken off and I had no idea who they were. The bottom portion of the course is pretty bumpy and I rediscovered this the hard way as I rolled through one of the ‘nicer’ sections. I was seated, with all of my weight on the saddle, as I hit a bump. I hit it hard enough that it had rotated my saddle towards the back, enough that I probably would have been deflowered by the horn of my saddle if I had left it alone. I shifted forward, bounced on it a few times, hoping to rotate it back with my tail bone and it ended up rotating too far forward. I went back and forth until I got it reasonably close.
Once the saddle issue was fixed, I refocused on getting myself back into the race. I gradually picked off a few guys on each lap and eventually made my way back up to Jeff and a few others. We only had a couple of laps left and it was down to Jeff, myself and maybe one or two others. Jeff opened up a small gap on the 2nd to last lap while going up the Snake. I was blocked by one of the guys in our group, don’t remember who it was. By the time I got around him, Jeff was already halfway down the hill.
I managed to get away from the remainder of the group, Danny Casper and maybe Shim, and did my best to bring back Jeff. He was too strong and managed to stay away. I thought that I had 2nd locked up, however after the race I had heard that Jim Cochran was still off the front, and that Jeff had just gotten by him at the finish. I was maybe 25 yards behind Jeff at the finish, so Cochran must have been right in front of me. Crapola…
For the 30+ race, we had a steady sprinkle throughout that kept the cobbles of the Snake nice and snotty. The pace was fast right from the blow of the whistle, and by the time I hit the top of the Snake on the first lap, the leaders were already out of sight. I was pretty timid on the descent over the first few laps as I didn’t want to lay it down. I couldn’t really make up any ground on the Snake either. Every time I tried to power up the Snake, my back wheel would break loose regardless of where I shifted my weight. It took a few laps, but I finally got into a groove that I was relatively comfortable with. I started picking off riders at a pace of about one per lap, but it wasn’t enough to get myself out of the realm of pack fodder by the end of the race. I’m not sure exactly where I finished, but I still had a great time despite the conditions.
Julie probably had the only dry race of the day. I wasn’t able to watch much of her race as it was sandwiched in between the 40+ and 30+ races. She had a pretty good race and finished in the money for the first time on the pavement. I was pretty stoked for her!
Hopefully next weekend we’ll finally get back on the dirt up in Mankato. I love the course up there, lot’s of climbing, lot’s of techy singletrack, lot’s of fast competition, always a great time!
Thanks for reading,