Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Dave’s Drop

Longer races I can handle. But more technical, too?
This year’s Subaru Cup was a completely different experience than last year’s. In 2012 I drove to Mt. Morris early on Sunday morning, did a 1-lap pre-ride of the Cat 3 (Citizens) course, then raced to 2nd place in my age group and drove home. This year as a Cat 2 (Sport), I was in for a much more demanding weekend.

Legacy Cross Country

I arrived at the Nordic Mountain ski area late on Friday afternoon and rode what I thought was a full lap of the Cat 2 course. But I was misled by some of the course markings (I wouldn’t be the only one) and in reality did a much shorter lap. Realizing the mistake, I scrambled to preview the rest of the lap with what remained of the daylight. Most of the course was familiar from last year, but moving up to Cat 2 meant moving on to some more challenging trail sections. I was able to handle everything except “Dave’s Drop,” a sharp left turn followed immediately by a tight, rocky descent. I tried it again and again but couldn’t figure it out.

“Dave’s Drop” was in my head as a lay awake in my tent on Friday night. I fell asleep with no resolution. On Saturday morning I returned to that section of the course and watched other riders conquer it in practice. But every time I tried I got the same result, and I’m lucky I didn’t crash. At last I resolved simply to dismount and run through that section. I needed to stop worrying about it and get on with my warmup.

Subaru Cup combines all Cat 2 men—Sport and Comp—in the same race, and I knew that I wouldn’t keep up with the Comp guys for long. I climbed pretty well throughout the race and handled the flat stuff well enough; the descents were my momentum killers. But, funny enough, “Dave’s Drop” didn’t cost me anything. I stuck to my plan of running that section while lots of other riders crashed or lost so much speed that there wasn’t an appreciable difference between riding and running. Much like my races last month at Wausau and Suamico, on Saturday I lost nearly all the ground I was going to lose in the early miles. By the final lap I was feeling pretty good. On the finishing loop—a strange and unwelcome addition to the race—I dropped my chain three times and lost a good 30 seconds, but the overall result was an honest reflection of my mountain biking abilities at this point in time. I finished 28th out of 37 in my age group and 165th out of 227 overall.

Last year I missed the pro cross country race altogether. This year I got to watch the best American professionals (and a few guests from outside the USA) take on an even more technically demanding cross country course than mine. Lea Davison won the women’s race after a long fight with Katerina Nash that left all the other competitors far behind. Todd Wells rode away from the field to win a confused and controversial men’s race.

Impreza Short Track

You could say that my cyclocross season began on Sunday in the short track mountain bike race … and you could say that I still haven’t fixed the problem that keeps me from better results in nearly all of my racing efforts. My warmups are insufficient, so the early moments of my races are compromised and I don’t hit my stride until I’m hopelessly far behind. On Sunday I was still in a reasonable position as the group returned to the start/finish after the ½-lap prologue, but by the end of the first full lap I was surely not going to see the leaders again. I held my position fairly well during the next lap, then had a brief power outage on my third full lap and gave up a couple of spots. On my fourth lap I was starting to feel much better but I got pulled from the race to give the leaders a clear shot at the finish line. If I had been allowed to complete the race I might have recovered one spot in my age group and perhaps one more overall, but I almost certainly would have been lapped by the leaders and the race organizers didn’t want that. I wasn’t the only rider to be pulled, and I got the impression that most of my fellow sufferers weren’t too disappointed to be done. I finished 15th out of 17 in my age group and 65th of 75 overall.

In the pro short track races, both Todd Wells and Lea Davison did the double: winning on Sunday after their impressive cross country wins on Saturday. Ben Forbes and Abby Strigel won Sunday’s pro Super D races. As badly as I descend on technical terrain, I wasn’t tempted to enter the Cat 2 Super D. The pros now move on to the national championships in Macungie PA later this week. I have a three-week break before the Sunburst Showdown on Aug. 4.

Waiting For My WORS Results

Subaru Cup races are part of a national series and part of WORS. Eventually, WORS will go through the results to separate the Comp and Sport finishers. My lowly placings will look a little better and I'll get the series points I deserve. But so far my 2013 season is playing out just as I predicted: I'm taking my lumps at a higher level of competition and I don't have any expectations of a high finish in the final standings. Keep watching this page for updated results.

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