Nittany Cross 2012 – Day 1

17 Sep

This weekend was the first cyclocross race of the season for a lot of us that live in the Mid-Atlantic at Nittany Cross. It usually draws a huge crowd since its still warm out, a lot of people are still in good shape from road season, and it’s an UCI event in the MAC series. This was also the first cross race I ever did last year, so it was nice to kinda know the course. For this year there were a lot of new things going on. For one I moved up to a cat3 this year which meant a start time in the middle of the day compared to the early morning, I was racing a different bike with the added benefits of tubular wheels! On top of that the lady was signed up for day 1 at Nittany which meant I needed to dial one more bike in the night before and get there early to get some practice laps in with her to get her ready. Its hard to help someone with aspects of racing that your still trying to learn but I did the best I couldn’t and passed some of her questions onto friends with a tad bit more experience.

Saturday morning came around and the game plan was to go out early and watch a bunch of friends/teammates first ever cross race in the C field at 9am. We packed the car up and left around 7am so we could get up there a bit after 8 in order to get a couple laps in before their race started.

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After being a bit stressed about watching/cheering, getting practice laps in with Lauren, getting my own practice laps in, making sure I ate early enough but not too much, it was finally time to do some more cheering in the womens 3/4 race.  Lauren started conservative and was a bit weary of the very fast start into the gravel. She was doing really well making up positions and was making a pass up a steep hill when she tried to shift.  Unfortunately the chain dropped, got stuck, she continued to pedal, sheared the derailleur hanger, bent the rear derailleur… she ran to the pit, got a neutral support bike (with platform pedals), did half a lap and picked up my teammates bike and continued the race.  Minus the broken bike status I think she liked it.  Or at least liked it more then the 16mi run she had planned for the next day 😉  I think shes hooked.  I just need to get her bike running again so she can race asap.

After all that nonsense I had to get ready mentally for my race.
Men’s 2/3/4 B race

This was my first go at a 2/3/4 ‘B’ race so i had no idea what to expect. I didnt want to start near the front and get in anyones way, so I waited a bit to register and ended up starting 73rd out of 120 some people. The game plan was to NOT start in the middle of the group but i ended up smack in the middle. The prologue was a lot longer this year (luckily) before the 180 U-turn back through the finish line. The start went off fast and as I approached the U-turn I saw a big pile up. I went to the outside. Then saw a guy flailing his bike like he was trying to juggle it… someone then fell into him and another larger pile-up happened. I took a foot off and scooted by and cruised down into the the finishing straight. I was able to pass some people here and got ready for the quick gravel spot that led into an uphill. The bottle neck at the top of the hill wasnt quite as bad but we were about three people wide at this point. After a couple turns we made it to the off camber section that lead into a quick down hill, a right, then a left U-turn into the deep gravel section before the barriers.

I took a stupid line trying to avoid a person who had just fallen and almost ate it turning into the gravel. I somehow kept it upright but my left foot came off trying to dab the ground. I unfortunately didnt notice this until i was coming hot into the barriers. I also didnt realized until later that my bars were crooked about 15degrees to one side. Anyways I usually leave my left foot on when dismounting and almost ate shit trying to make it over the first barrier. I shouldered the bike and cranked the pedals around with my other hand while running making sure the chain was still on. I hopped back on and started hammering trying to catch back up to Matteus my rival for the race. The rest of the upper/back section is alot of turns and straight-aways until you got into the hella-rooty back section. I found a line that worked alright during my pre-race laps but was forced off that the first lap due to the amount of people in the way. The rest of the first lap was pushing hard trying to get closer to the front. I luckily was able to get some really great advice from my buddy Jeff and stayed left through last years ‘mud bog’ which turned into a hard packed rut filled war-zone for this year. There was no way to avoid the hellish bouncing that would rattle your cage and punish your legs. The plus was that you knew evereyone else was going through the same pain as there was no ‘great line.’

After the first lap I got into a groove and as I saw people I recognized, marked them, and made sure to pass them. I sat on Ryan’s wheel for a while and yelled abit about ‘doing this!’ I was weary to pass in any technical areas since I cant corner as well as him and didnt want to take a friend out. Eventually after we passed a bunch of people together, I hammered a bit and made a (im sure semi-sketchy) pass. The heart was pumping. I looked down multiple times and saw 200bmp… 198bmp… 208bmp on my garmin… After coming by the pit again my buddy and teamate Ben (who was playing a great pit man for me!) gave me the rundown on placement. He yelled ’33rd!’ In cross you usually have NO idea where you are placed. I was in this boat, no clue at all. he could have told me 50th or 70th and it would have sounded about right. I was beyond excited. I was really shoiting for top 50, maybe top 40. Things were going well. After keeping with my rhythm and taking the sketchy turns reaaaally gingerly, I was catching people as they started fading back. My starts arnt usually so great but I find my legs can keep motoring all day. I was in a good pain cave zone.

As I passed the finish line and heard the ‘1 lap bell’ i saw a group of 4 riders ahead of me just about to climb the hill. Game plan: catch that group and move up = mucho spots. I stood up to mash but the legs were diminishing a bit. I didnt have anyone behind me so i didnt force any of the turns. Came to the off camber turn and gave a lapped or blown up rider a ‘on your outside’ unfortunately he moved to the outside and made me rub a little tape. I might have said something not so nice to him but didnt mean it… i made some time up on the run up after the barriers and was able to catch one on the long back straight. a couple more were in front of me through the wooded section, i couldnt pass there though I stayed with them until the last quick down and up before the end grass section. I made a move around one guy after a corner which stuck and the guy in front of him went down on the next turn. I was able to slip past and put a qap between them and myself. I hammered over the basketball court and tried to bridge the gap to the next rider. It seriously seemed line there was just a line of riders in front of me… I made it to him in the mud bog and saw he was hurting. I conserved some energy and rode his wheel for a few seconds. Right at the pit but before the crowds I made my move. I dont think he knew i was there and figured the crowd would alert him. I stood up and cranked, but i wasnt as sly as i thought and he looked over, stood up and started to mashed. As we go to the turn before the the slight downhill into the final sprint I had a wheel or so on him and moved slightly left boxing him out. I was able to hold him off in the sprint for 22nd. Super happy with the results. Glad to have everyone cheering as well.

Thanks to a teammate for letting me borrow/steal his skinsuit since we all know skinsuits are pro. Photo Credit to Bob:

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Race results:

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Strava Data:

Ill try to post more photos from the actual camera. Day 2/Sunday’s race will be up tomorrow along with videos from the GoPro.

After racing we watched the Elite Women then Men’s race. Wild how much faster the Pro/1/2 race is!

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As the kids were calling him, JPow Jwow!

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I found my buddy and his friends doing it right with plenty of beers, and official keeping an eye on them, and perogies on a grill. cross rules.

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We got back to the city both tired and went to grab some Thai food. Its BYOB so we brought a 750mL of Belgium goodness to end the first day of cross with the right way.

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2 Responses to “Nittany Cross 2012 – Day 1”

  1. kimbro September 17, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Congrats on a great result, man! That looks like a blast. I’ve already told Em I’m buying a cross bike next year, so if you hear of anyone selling a 58ish frame after this season, hit me up!

    • Eric September 18, 2012 at 3:41 pm #

      Thanks Mike! Nice!! Hmm let me know what your looking for in a cross bike and ill keep my eyes open.

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