Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sunrise Park Race

My next adventure in bike racing was the ABD Sunrise Park race in Bartlett. This was another Chicrosscup race and again I raced in the Cat 4 A group. It was a beautiful day and when I left my house, weather.com reported that it was going to be sunny, windy and in the low 50s. I stocked up on a variety of base layers, arm warmers and gloves in an effort to be prepared for the actual conditions upon arrival.

Well all my planning wasn’t enough. When I got there, it was nearly 60 degrees and with the sun out, all I needed was shorts and my short sleeve jersey. Unfortunately, I was convinced that it was going to be colder and had already dressed in knickers (which wasn’t a bad idea--protect the knees and all). Worse, somehow I didn’t bring a pair of summer gloves so I decided to go bare handed.

Fashion and technical wear decisions out of the way, I rode along the trail from the school parking lot to the registration area. I signed in and said hello to a couple of fellow Alberto’s teammates and warmed up. The course consisted of two sections of double barriers both ending on hills, a number of long straight sections, a number of sharp turns that seemed awfully narrow to my rookie eyes and a short, but very steep hill that came after a sharp right turn. I'll have to remember to get in to my lowest gear in advance for this.

This time I decided to take a practice lap and, of course, wound up starting in the back of the field of 44 racers. This did give me a much needed look at the course, but cost me a decent early field position. The race began into a long straight section which then stacked up at the first sharp turn. I’m going to have to change my strategy for the next race.

I felt better in this race than the previous ones which I am chalking up to experience (80%) and improved fitness (20%). I handled the barriers well, running to the top of the hills and passing a couple of riders who were remounting their bikes on the incline. I was also able to pass several riders on the long gentle inclined section. I ascended that short steep hill each lap without having to dismount as a few riders in front of me were forced to do when they ran out of forward momentum. During the second lap, I took a fall on one of those tight turns and this made me more tentative in the turns for the rest of the race which I’m sure cost me a few places. On the plus side, for the first time I actually remembered to check to see how many laps were left. On the last lap, I set a goal to pass the six riders in front of me, two close and four further ahead. On the incline, I overtook the duo and, with three quarters of a lap to go, started to close in on the group of four. At one point, I was right on the wheel of the fourth rider, but my tentativeness in the turns allowed them to gap me enough that I couldn’t catch them. I made a final effort over the short, steep hill and a final sprint, but it wasn’t enough. Still, this was my best race yet and I took 27th place, good enough for 4 points in the standings. These were my first race points ever and it felt good to achieve that goal.

Next up is Campton Cross in St. Charles. And a new goal...crack the top 20.

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