Monday, November 9, 2009

1st Place at Tacchino!

Race #5 in the Mabra Cyclocross Series took place on a warm day down in Upper Marlboro, MD. An unfamiliar track faced the racers in the 2009 Tacchino Ciclocross. The Squadra Coppi Cycling Team's annual race had been contested in previous years in Leesburg, VA. A short, uphill sprint on the pavement kicked the race off. Neal Sapp took the holeshot but a good start put me right on his wheel. He was keeping a solid pace so I was happy to hold my position throughout much of the first lap. A first-lap prime (a free tire-glueing at Conte's Bike Shop) was up for grabs so I decided to slip around Neal on the back side. While pre-riding the course earlier that morning I noticed that it could be difficult to pass in the finishing section. There was a couple of 180 degree turns followed by a fast sweeping downhill on grass before you hit the pavement for a short sprint to the line. I wanted to test my theory early in the race and go for the prime. The move was a good one because I had no problem holding the chasers off until the line. The next couple laps saw the field shatter and the riders in the lead group rotate on the front. The pace was not painfully high. No one made any hard attacks to get away. I was content to let it play out and ready for any moves. With a lap to go, the pace started to pick up. I jumped after one attack and found myself on the front early in the last lap. I wanted to keep a good pace but did not want to go into the red too much and be ready for the finish. No one tried to pass. I think everyone was content to let me lead for a bit. There was a few sections were you could get a draft so they were waiting to pass later. I just kept the pace going at a solid speed. The race was single file as we neared the backside. I knew if I could just get to that technical finish I would be hard to beat. I began to get closer and closer. Neal Sapp was close behind chasing in and out of each corner. I was concerned about one area...a slightly uphill, wide-open grass section. I poured on the gas to make sure Neal did not pass. I took the right lines at the finish while Neal could only follow. I hit the pavement with speed and had no problem holding it to the line for the win (and the Ommegang Tacchino Jersey!).

Monday, November 2, 2009

5th Place on Halloween

Halloween day saw another break in the Mabra series with the Pax Velo Cycling Club's All Hallows CX Race.  Once again I saw this as an opportunity to get some experience and race in the regular 3/4 category.  The course had a little of everything to offer.  A steady rain the prior evening and morning of the race turned a seemingly simple section of the course into a slippery mudfest.  After a long, slightly uphill grass start the course ventured out over some fast fireroads before heading into the woods over rooted single-track.  I started on the second row but was able to get to the front by the time the field entered the first turn.  The first lap was a mad pace and slowly weeded out the competition.  The lead group was down to four by the middle of the 2nd lap.  The pace continued to be high but was feeling good about the situation.  Most of the course was flat so I sat in as much as possible to conserve energy.  I was confident in and out of the slick corners and felt I could stay close and try and make a move later in the race.  My only concern was the mountain-biker friendly single-track on the backside.  My skills in that area are a bit weak and there is not much terrain similar to that throughout the season. I was getting gapped each time through and had to dig hard to get back on with the lead group.  I continued to fight hard but finally lost touch with a little over two laps to go.  We entered the long muddy stretch where the tires dig in deep and you have to give it all you have just to propel the bike forward and keep it upright.  I quickly went in to the red zone.  My legs were screaming as they filled with lactic acid.  Stephen Wahl and I could only watch as Andrew Welch and Rusty Williford eased away.  I had aspirations of recovering and chasing them down but it was not meant to be. I really suffered from all the previous efforts and had to focus just to get through the rest of the race.  One rider slipped away from the chase group and settled in with me and Stephen.  I knew the podium was in reach as long as there was no mistakes so I found a effort level I could live with and rode in for a 5th place podium finish.

The Mabra Series starts up again next week in Upper Marlboro, MD.  My win last week puts me on top of the standings in the B Masters so I will be looking for a victory and to preserve my 1st place ranking.