Thursday, October 15, 2009

KK team Race Report in!

Providence Cyclocross Festival
10.10.09 - 10.11.09
Stephen Pierce

Too much beer, too little sleep. I woke up on Saturday morning at 5:55 am, roughly an hour or so after falling asleep from the sheer exhaustion that comes from a night of vegan white russians, on-demand cable, and the company of good friends. The irresponsible sort of exhaustion, an end-of-the-world exhaustion. White lines blurred together on I-95 south as my two friends slept in the passenger & back seats, and before I know it - but after my back wheel gave out on a wet asphalt corner on a pre-race lap - the starting whistle went off. I was in the 6th row from the starting line, and had figured that my race had been run before I had even started. Resigned to struggling merely to finish in the top 50 percent, I clipped my other foot in and realized, though, that no one around me was sprinting, and if they were, it was a slow roll. I attacked the hole shot, split between racers, and found myself in the top 10 after the first 1km; the top 3 after the first lap. It was a long, 6.2km course with a lot of wide-open straight-ahead terrain - my bread & earth balance. I put some distance between myself & the rest of the field and tried with all of my might to nail the dismounts, scurry up the run-up, and keep my balance around corners.

Tragedy struck. After a two-barrier run, any gracefulness had left me and, frenzied, I slammed my bike back down a little harder thanI should've. My chain was not only off the chainring, but also slightly stuck in the front derailleur. You know, the sort of thing that would be an easy, quick fix if you weren't trying to do it as quickly as possible. I lost a few positions, but got back on in time to retain top 10, and regain a few spaces to 7th. Energized & no longer nervous about racing in a region reknowned for its passion for cyclocross, I made it my business to push back to the front.

That's when my rear tire blew out. Due to the previous night's rain, I had switched over from my Michelin Jet to my mud rear earlier that morning, and in my haste must've inflated to 39 instead of 40 psi. Why couldn't this have happened during any of the races that I wanted so badly for an excuse out of, and not this? I quickly weighed my options & decided that it would be in my best interest to finish the race with the flat, at the risk of my rim, than it would be to give up. So I plowed on, spending as much time out of the saddle as possible, losing position & fishtailing around corners. In the final paved stretch, I gave it all of the gas that was in me, my rear wheel squealing in misery & the guy in front of me seemingly resigned to not lose the sprint to a guy with a flat. Tough luck for him, though -- I came in 16th for the day, out of a field of 80-some-odd racers. Not bad, but certainly leaving something to gun for on Sunday.

The rest of the day was spent in a Harpoon IPA-induced fog.

So, Sunday I had the taste of blood. My parents made it down from Boston, a lot of friends that I hadn't seen in ages were racing, and I felt just about as awesome as I had the morning before. There were only a few changes in the course, but they were each so well-planned that they drastically impacted the feel of the race; It was at the same time faster and more of a challenge than the day before. This time around, any and all dismount areas came at awkward instances; off-camber, around hair-pin turns, downhill. It wasn't going to be pretty.

My starting position was exactly the same as the day before, as was my plan for how to deal with the hole shot. It succeeded, and I saw my smiling parents at the first convergence of pavement & grass. Having never seen me race - or do anything competitive in the last decade, for that matter - I was excited for them to be there & supportive. The race was well-ridden by everyone in the lead group; The race leader and second place broke away early in the first lap, but the race for everything remaining in the top fifteen was tightly grouped together shortly behind. I rode about as well as I could have, and I think everyone else did as well. My friends & family's encouraging voices gave me the energy to push through the pain and sprint with all that was left in me through every straightaway, and I ended up taking 7th, marking my first top-10 finish of the season.

Harpoon IPA and laying in the sun followed.

It was nice to see so many of my buddies decked out in Geekhouse's hideously beautiful skinsuits & equally flourescent bikes. They're in the process of building a strong-as-fuck team, and I'm hugely looking forward to racing with/against them many, many more times this season.

I'd also like to congratulate my friend Donny, who works for Dash Delivery in Providence & rides for Circle-A's Team Makeout Party, who rode his first two cross races this weekend, finishing at a respectable middle-of-the-pack 36th on Saturday & a huge improvement 19th on Sunday, and also a congrats to Kissena rider Brittlee, who finished 15th in her race on Saturday & 12th on Sunday. Fucking rad!

Altogether, a pretty fucking sweet time in a great city. Granogue & Wissahickon abound next weekend.