Sunday, October 31, 2010

Into the Pain Tunnel

Yesterday I headed to Memphis for day one of Spooky Cross.  I'd planned to head to Louisville for the Eva Bandman but bagged it in favor of Memphis for several reasons:
1.  Closer
2.  Cheaper
3.  TBRA Points
4.  I could double up
5.  Afternoon racing

So it was with much anticipation that I headed for Memphis.  Weather was still beautiful (will we see mud this season?) and the drive was benign.  The course they set up was really exceptional and soul crushing.  After a long grass-crit start, we hooked up with the last quarter of the course, winding through a tight set of corners, a super fast off-camber left hander, then a little up and down that required brakes, power and intention.  After a super tight set of corners the lap started with a really sweet high speed left/right cornering section then dropped into the amphitheater.  We had to dismount to cross a double railroad tie, then run across the amphitheater and up a large set of decomposing stairs, seen here:

After a remount we plunged into some wicked singletrack that was several dudes unmaking (and one of the few places I could make time).  A couple barriers, some flat along the lake, a crushing grassy singletrack climb to a paved bike path, then into the last quarter grass section and through the start finish.

Single Speed lined up in front of the B race.  I took the holeshot and set the pace the first lap.  The course designer and crowd favorite Boomer glued himself to my wheel for the first 3 laps until I kinda cracked a little.  He rode me off his wheel and I floated by myself for the remaining 3 or 4 laps.  Finished 2nd.  I need to learn some tactics.

The A race started immediately afterward.  I drank a little water, pulled myself together and lined up in the back.  For the first time I was last headed out of the start gate.  It was interesting to watch from the back but also a little humbling.  I started moving up, picking off a rider here or there.  I started to feel really good after about a lap and a half, but we were doing 10 and with 6 laps to go I really started to suffer.  After giving up a few places late in the race, I was dying for an excuse to drop out, but fortunately I got lapped.  Yep, lapped.  Humbling.  Kept me from quitting, though, so it was a blessing in disguise.  Don't know how I finished, had to split and find fast food. (Update:  finished 4th of 4 in the 1/2 combined, 2nd of 2 in the 2's behind Bosio...  baby leg)

I'm so fortunate to be racing at all and to even be pseudo-competitive at this stage.  I'm trying to not get attached to my results and yesterday's A race was a prime opportunity to face that.  This wasn't a priority race like last weekend, so I spent a lot of time on the bike last week, even got in my first long run since my surgery.  I think the competition is getting better around here, the field was certainly larger than I expected and the front of the B Race was really cooking.  As the sport grows, it's probably safe to assume that fields will keep getting bigger and wins will be harder to come by.

Can't say enough about the course out there.  Lot's of really great elements, tons of corners, lot's of braking required, definitely not a roadie course.  I was absolutely killing the bike handling, now if I could just get these legs going...  maybe next year.

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