Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Victory in DC!

The Mabra Cyclocross series resumed on Sunday down in Washington DC with the very popular DCCX CX Race. 506 pre-registered racers converged on our nation’s capital to do battle at the 4th race in the 9 race schedule. Ranked #2 in the ¾ 35+ category earned me another front row start in the 115 person field scheduled for a 10:00am start and it was very helpful in the slightly uphill start. A group of 5 made the selection fairly quickly due to the technical sections early in the course. Keith Rohr, Neal Sapp, Kenneth Morris, Jonathan Seibold, and myself put a gap on the field that would stay until the end. The key feature of the race put on by Family Bike Shop of Crofton was the long flat section over crushed gravel that traveled straight into the wind. Keith led the group through on the first lap while we all sat in each others draft protected from the wind. I took over on the second lap and deliberately slowed the pace a bit through the windy area. There was no need to work too hard seeing as how we had already put in significant time on the chase group. Shortly after, Neal Sapp went on the offensive using his proficient bike-handling skills and attempted to get a gap on the lead pack. We were able to shut down the move. I continued to stay patient and monitor the situation. As with every race, there was moments when I was deep in the red and hurting. I just told myself, “they are hurting too!” Keith, having the best motor of the bunch, put in a hard attack through the wind in the effort to snap us from his wheel on the next to last lap. The move was risky but he knew if he was successful it could mean victory. Fortunately, Neal and I were able to hold on and the effort probably cost Keith in the end. Neal then took over at the front for a bit and as we entered the course after the starting area I sensed a slowing of the pace. I assume Neal did not want to be on the front for the last lap and thought that this was an opening. My legs were not totally ready for the move but you have to go when opportunity presents itself. I jumped out of the saddle and quickly got a small gap while Neal chased. With the windy, flat section near I knew I had to make a decision…can I take this all the way to the house on my own? Will Neal and Keith ride together and chase me down leaving me exhausted for the sprint finish? My answer came to me in the form of a crash by Neal. As he chased, he came around a muddy corner too fast and slid out dropping his chain in the process. I had only one option…ride as hard as I can! I was able to navigate all technical areas and avoid any dumb mistakes on my way end. A 15 second gap allowed me to come across the finish line with my hands in the air celebrating my biggest win ever!

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