March 14, 2013

A Rainy and Wet First Weekend Of Racing - Thanks to Stuffits For Keeping Me Dry!

Date: February 23 &; 24
Events: William &; Mary Road Race / MonsterCross
Location: Williamsburg, VA / Chesterfield, VA
Riders: Jeff (road race & MonsterCross), Dylan (MonsterCross), Zack (MonsterCross)
Result: Jeff - Road Race - 5th (Pro/1/2), MonsterCross - 7th (Pro); Dylan 9th (Pro) MonsterCross; Zack - 12th (Pro) MonsterCross

I headed to Williamsburg, VA for my season opener on February 23 at the William & Mary University Tidewater Classic Road Race.  The 3 hour drive south from Arlington wasn't confidence inspiring as the temperature never got much above 41 degrees Fahrenheit and it was pouring rain.  I lined up for the start of the Pro/1/2 road race with 37 other poor souls, all shivering in the cold and wet.

A wet start - traveling to Williamsburg with both road and mountain bikes

Luckily for us, the rain stopped as soon as we got moving and the pace remained high; high enough that I stripped down to just a jersey, armwarmers and kneewarmers.  Off the bat, two riders rode away from the field.  I was content to let them go (as one of them was a friend).  On the third of four laps, I got a bit bored with the pace and started attacking a bit to keep the tempo high and to bring back a few riders who had gotten a bit of a gap on the field and were starting to chase down the breakaway.

I did just enough to keep the field strung out and chasing, but not enough to catch my friend in the break. But, just before the finishing few miles, a group of four got up the road.  In the final, chaotic sprint, I caught one of the break and was just reeling in others when I ran out of time.  I finished 5th.  Here are results.

A very wet race.

I immediately went back to my car and put my Stuffitts glove, shoe and helmet drying pads in to get them ready for the next day of racing.  These are great things to keep cycling items dry and smelling great (like cedar):

Drying everything out with helmet, glove and shoe pads.  Everything was perfect to wear for the next day's event after leaving them in overnight

Here's the data for the race:

I hoped that I left enough in the tank for the MonsterCross the next day.

Sunday morning was nice and sunny - a perfect day for a race.  The racecourse was mostly dirt fire-road, so it wasn't terribly muddy.  The worst mud of the day was in the start finish area.

At the start  - photo courtesy of Courtney Cotton
More than 500 people registered for the 50 mile long MonsterCross - it's one of the bigger events in the area - and it combines a course that suits either a mountain bike or a cross bike.  The mountain bike corners better, but the cross bike is better in the straight-aways and paved sections.

This was Zack's first race after a two broken collar bones kept him off the bike late last year.

The race was to have started with a neutral start for the 35+ strong Pro field, but some hadn't gotten the message (and the guy who was to lead us out's motorcycle was broken), so we had a blistering start through the parking lot to the course.  Dylan got a great start and was one of the first onto the trail.

Dylan right on Jeremiah Bishop's wheel  - photo courtesy of Courtney Cotton
Both Zack and I were caught off guard by the start and had to work our way through the field.  I latched onto the lead group of 8 (6 guys on cross bikes and two on mountain bikes) and we started to put time on the rest of the pack.  Dylan had some chain-drop issues (since solved after moving to SRAM's XX1 setup) and fell off the lead.

Despite stopping quickly to remove a stick from my rear derailleur, I couldn't regain the lead group and they rode away.  I fell back a bit to the chase group that contained Dylan and 6 others.

Dylan had some continued chain issues and our group eventually whittled down to just three: me, Gripped Racing's Kevin Carter and the US Military Cycling Team's David Flaten.  We three proceeded to try and chase down the leaders with renewed strength.  Flaten bonked going into the second 25 mile loop.

Jeff - 20 miles in and heading out for lap #2  - photo courtesy of Courtney Cotton
Dylan - heading out for lap #2  - photo courtesy of Courtney Cotton
Zack - heading out for lap #2 - photo courtesy of Courtney Cotton
Heading out into lap #2
Kevin and I worked well together - taking turns pulling at the front at a lactate threshold pace - eventually chasing down one of the leaders and closing in on others before hitting the finish.

Jeff leading Kevin
We sprinted for the line and I had just a bit more snap left in my legs to take 7th.

A very fun day.

Results can be found here.

Eventual winner of the MonsterCross, Jeremiah Bishop, went on to take second place the next weekend at the opening US Pro XCT event in Texas, so I don't feel too badly about placing well behind him!

And, here's my ride data from Strava:

- Jeff

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