Wednesday, October 22, 2008

East Meets (South) West

So Sunday was the "East (Ottawa) meets South (Toronto area) 'cross race" in Kingston. I was looking forward to the course, since it was a fun one last year! Also because Steve and Carolin were going to be there, and Jamie was racing! I got there in plenty of time to watch the first race go off, and watched some of the carnage on the 'terraced' section, which has some nasty tight corners and steep downhills, just like last year. As I was wandering around the course, I heard someone yell my name--it was WATSON! He was up from Barrie to contest the race--one of the favorites. I chatted with him a bit, and showed him a few of the gotchas on the course (especially the uphill barrier on a 180 off-camber after a downhill which was hidden behind a stump and (ideally) required a right-side dismount).

Jamie, Steve and Carolin all rolled in shortly before our race, and by that time I'd already ridden a warmup lap. The course was much the same as last year, although the 'pop-up/jump' from last year was removed, one of the terraced sections was eliminated, and an extra stair run-up was added. The finish was a bit different, with a tricky off-camber corner with a big rutt running perpendicular if you got on a bad line. Tricky!

The race started with a big group, and I was well in the rear right off the gun. The pace was INSANE right from the start, so I ended up well back before we even got going...and would pretty much remain there the entire race. I slipped up on the terraced section on the first lap and went down (actually not even sure what happened--I was clear of the corner already, and went down on the straight!) and lost a few more places. The laps were long (2.5kms) so by the 4th lap, the leaders came by me (wow.. brutal!) and I noticed that Watson was in 4th place (later turns out he was probably 3rd, and there was a lapped rider in between). I yelled at him to catch up, since he was not far behind the lead pair of Osmond Bakker and Derrick St. John. I rode a very consistent race, with lap times of 5:32 (modified first lap), 10:14, 10:08, 10:11, 10:12, 10:08, and 10:08 (yes, apparently I did 3 laps all exactly the same to the second, and all the others within a 6 second range.. go figure). Too bad I wasn't just consistently FASTER! :-Þ

Overall, not my best race, but a super-fun course, and a really competitive group (Watson ended up third, behind Bakker and St. John, and ahead of Fillion and Morse--what a field!) Read Andrew's full account of the race here, spend hours looking through over 1000 photos, and check out the full results on this page (if you scroll waaaaay down, you'll see me!)

You may wonder why I made no mention of Shawn or Keli this week, and that's because Shawn was off kicking ass and taking names, winning Quebec Cyclocross Provincials!!! CONGRATS to Shawn! You can read all about his weekend here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

'cross madness (aka Rock & Roll in Rochester)

OK, once again I'm negligent in posting; somehow I bet my one reader is not surprised! However, that doesn't mean nothing has been going on--in fact, quite the opposite. A few items of note since my last posting

- 'cross season is in full swing! (duh!)
- two weekends ago was the first OBC 'cross race
- one weekend ago was my canoe trip to Algonquin Parks Barron Canyon (SPECTACULAR!)
- Spin Classes at the shop started last Tuesday, and I went for my first one of the year on Thursday...heading back tomorrow as well. Once the existing classes fill up, I will likely be teaching a class again--but we'll see how it goes for now!
- this past weekend was 'cross madness in Rochester NY for the Cobb's Hilly 'cross! (a few more details about this item below)
- Monday following the race consisted of a fantastic ride from Gatineau with Shawn and Keli out to Carp, with Turkey and all the fixings afterwards. What a great day--a huge thanks to Chef Keli for the food, and of course for putting up with me for another weekend ;)
- The Sport X end of year party is a go for Oct. 24, with ROLLER RACES officially a go! Can't wait!

OK, so a few details about the race in Rochester:

After last year, we just had to go back to Rochester for the Cobb's Hill Cyclocross! Shawn had his title to defend after a great win last year, and I had some revenge to take on the course that broke my chain after one lap thus ending my first ever 'cross race far too early! So, with great enthusiasm, Shawn, Keli and I made another road trip to NY. We left Saturday evening after Shawn finished work, and arrived to a great hotel room for some rest. In the morning we prepared for the race, and headed to the park.

Once again Scott and the team at Full Moon Vista put on an amazing race, with a great course running through Cobb's Hill Park in Rochester. With a good mix of terrain, including a short singletrack section (my downfall!), a killer uphill (the only place I could pass anyone), an equally killer downhill (although different than last year, with more twisty off-camber stuff this time around) and some twisty turny grass sections (where I got out-handled by everyone but the 12 year old girls), the course had a bit of something for everyone! Of course, this type of course just happens to suit Shawn very well, since he's a good technical rider (thanks to his MTB background), can descend like a bat out of hell, and doesn't fear climbing (as his membership in the Club des Cinglés du Mont-Ventoux proves).

Keli's race went off first, and unfortunately we weren't able to watch much as we had to get changed and ready for our race which followed. Keli had a very good ride once again, and finished 5th place in a much stronger field than last year. Congrats Keli!

Our race started not so well for either Shawn or I. We got to the line a bit late, and Shawn had to fight his way up to the front, but only made it up to about 3 rows back. Thus, he had to chase for most of the first lap to catch the lead group. I started further back (by design of course) but ended up too far back even for my liking. I ended up running the entire single-track section the first lap due to a huge bottleneck of riders in front of me. Boo! On about the third lap, I managed yet another wipeout (third this year for those that are counting!) as I tried to remount after the barriers. I think the bike hit a bump right as I was jumping on, and kicked me off and over onto my side. I ended up sprawled out with the bike on top of me! I had no idea how Shawn was doing, since I didn't get a sight of him for most of the race. However, with about three laps to go I heard them announce that the leaders were coming through the line, lead by "Last Year's Winner from Canada, Shawn Marshall!. At this point I knew they were close to passing me!

I was getting tired, and having my fair share of difficulty on the twisty stuff, so wasn't really making up any ground (not loosing too much either though). I manged to ride the single-track cleanly a couple of times which felt good! At one point, I got a glimpse of Shawn, and noticed he had a rider right on his wheel! The next few times I saw him again, he still had the guy literally glued to his wheel! At one point on the grass section, I knew they would be catching me, so of course I starting thinking about it too much, and ended up riding a very poor line into a corner right when they were behind me. They got by, but I lost some momentum for sure! Once they went by, I noticed that no other riders were even close to them for third place! It was a two man race all the way!

I didn't know the final result until I finished. It turns out that Shawn had lead the whole race after he caught the leaders, but Eric Grimm had been right behind him the whole time, and came around right at the end! So, a great race, with a hard fought second place for Shawn (tough to take after riding such a great race, but Grimm rode smart!). I ended up 28th of 47, 3 minutes and one lap back. Not spectacular, but about normal for me! I need more practice on the twisty stuff (and courses with less singletrack would help ;))

Full results are here, while you can read Shawn's take on events here.

All for now!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

OBC 'cross #1 - Photos

OK, I know.. I have been negligent in not keeping the site up-to-date. Sorry! To tide you over, here are some pics of me from the first cyclocross race of the year. Full report to follow...eventually...

Click through for bigger versions, or check out all the pics at