Sunday, October 4, 2009

Race #20: The Chain Drop

Made a rookie mistake today and missed my call up while chatting in the staging area at the Tour de Louisville cross race... So I took a spot on the right side reminding myself to work left to avoid a big mud puddle before the start finish line. I gunned it and weaved around some wheels. I was lucky to escape a pile up that happened just behind me — unfortunately teammate Louie ran over some guy's neck and end-o'd.

Since it rained earlier in the week some of the off-camber sections were a little slick during the early race. My tubeless Vittorias seem to not do especially well in slicker conditions so I was riding conservatively. Louie caught back up to me and even passed me. I realized I was riding a little too easy and he spurred me on. I was hoping we could work together but he couldn't grab my wheel on a pull. I focused on riding cleanly and efficiently, using fitness to power after the barriers and to attack the several long climbs on the course.

Final lap things got dicey due to some stupid handing. I saw a couple riders trying to bridge up to me so I buried it through a few sections. In my haste I took a lame line through some gravel and wiped out. It was so lame and I lost momentum up to a steep climb.

I approached a first year rider entering a section of chicanes. He was being very cautious and ended up falling over. Somehow, three feet away my tire caught a rut and I was down as well! We kind of looked like Benny Hill without the Constables and Nurses.

I looked back and the next rider was fast approaching. I instantaneously realized I dropped my chain so I rain an uphill on the drive side putting my chain back on. It is weird to remount a bike on the opposite side but I did it and rode through some more chicanes. The next rider was on my wheel!

In a recent practice I overcooked a turn when I was in the lead and another rider was on my wheel. So I kept it cool. I hammered away from the chicanes so I could take it easy on some off-camber turns, where I rode high to catch some untreaded grass. I looked back and I had some space. I could take the next near 180 turn onto an uphill with a little caution.

I attacked the climb but only gave it 70 percent. I looked back and somehow the next rider was gaining! I licked my lips as I crested the top, lowered into my drops and began powering through the gears on my cassette anticipating a sprint finish. I looked back again and was delight to see he had exhausted himself on the climb.

I suppose the hills were to my advantage because somehow I got my first top-10 finish in the OVCX. I was content with my 8th place and I wish I could have rode a bit harder with more assurance from the tires.

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