Thursday, October 4, 2012

Orange County World Championships

Race Reports???  You LOVE 'em!

Random analysis of things that you were not present to witness?  POR SUPUESTO!!

Mindless Rambling?!?!?!  Hell yes!

How We Roll in SoCal

Because if it's pouring rain in Gloucester, MA, then it's gotta be 95 degrees for the Southern California Cyclocross Prestige Series.  Dust?  Of Course.  And it's a damn good thing I washed my truck before parking in a dusty, dirty parking lot because, you know, I love wasting my time.

The course was a perfect example of Southern California and our awesome cyclocross scene.  Located at a park not too far from the Pacific, it had a combination of goat head infested, dry-shrub riddled, small-rock littered, massive-potential-fire-hazards-everywhere surrounding dirt walking trails combined with wonderfully humid and sloggy city park grass.  Being that California is dry as hell, in a drought, and generally sucking in the department of "having money," it makes sense that parks across the state still choose to water their grass in the early mornings.  For a cross racer, this means you get to enjoy power-sucking, slow, tedious grass sections with a delightful side of humid evaporation rising up during the hottest parts of the day.  Aside from a truly minor, petty grievance, we were treated to a course that was a blast, challenging, and fair for everyone.  Everything there was distinctly Southern Californian, and on a day like it was, with the conditions and weather, I would put our racing up against anything in the nation.

Please Check Your Shit

It's no wonder that I'm still rambling through the 3's: I prepare like one.  It's a two hour drive from San Diego (I was visiting the family in Alpine) to Costa Mesa.  Naturally, I left myself exactly 2 hours to make the commute.

Gosh, sure hope I don't hit traffic (I didn't).  Really hope I don't have to do any bike maintenance or anything like that at the last minute (Ass).

After throwing on my race wheels I stumbled upon the fact that my shifting was WAY off.  So, naturally, I decided I was going to fix that thing and get to the line.  (editor's note: Matt, you seriously suck at working on bikes.  Seriously. Worse than you suck at working on motorcycles which, by comparison, are far more complex.  Even when you know what you're doing, you find a way to botch the job.  Stick to cooking...please).  No way.  Instead, the shifting got worse.  Worse, due to my handy-work.  Worse.  Wooooorrrrrrrrrse.  And before I could tighten up my Sidis, I realized that my shifted was screwed.  Because of me!

Whoever the mechanic was who wrenched my bike into PRO form in less than 30 seconds, I hope that the money I gave you was enough.  You are a genius.  You are amazing.  But I hate you.  You make me feel dumb.  So I hope that the money I gave you burnt up in your pocket.  Or that someone stole it from you.  Or that you spent it on gas.

That is all.

West Coast Slackers or: Why I Hate Call-Up Poachers

See what I did there?  Ya?  A little Dr. Strangelove??  Ya?  Kubrick??  Ok.

Call-ups are call-ups for a reason.  You simply do not take another rider's spot.  So when dipshit #1 rolls into the other rider's space on the front row, confusion ensues. 60 other anxious, dangerous, and otherwise unconcerned cat. 3 riders have surged to fill the space, and we're stuck with two dudes trying to negotiate a switch of positions: the call-up rider to the front, and the attempted poacher to move back. It would make sense that the "sooner" moved his way in front of me, essentially pushing me from row 2 to row 3.  You bastard.

The Course in Orange County (Where's Jack Black?)

There was so much gnar being shredded that
my radness could not be contained.
The start took us over the fastest, smoothest grass found on the course.  500 meters down followed by a left-handed hairpin and 500 meters back.  Winding through grass and sand and hardpack, we eventually ended up in a higher-speed downhill section to sandpit where, of course, cat. 3 skills were on display: swerving, riders too far forward, endos, wash-outs.  Pretty much everything that makes cross racing exciting occurred here.  Even I managed to throw in some style points with a wheelie or 5 coming out of the pit.  After sprinting over a short, yet surprisingly brutal run-up and we were thrusted onto the mesa, weaving through an interesting connection of single track and off-camber mounds.  These mounds were surprisingly tricky and rewarded a patient rider who made consistent line choices and carried as much speed as possible.  A short flat section brought riders to the BMX bowl (aka: the style section).  Anytime I get an opportunity to air out the cross bike, I will take it, and the number of boosters in this section had me forgetting about the pain each lap.  Over to more slow grass, barriers and more grass, and you've completed a relatively long lap at the OCCX.

So, You're Proud of Going to UC Riverside???

And when it gets singletrack, lined out for a mile in the top-20, you have to be curious as to why a rider from UC Riverside decided to chop wheels in an apparent attempt to advance position, only to give it all back as soon as a turn or dismount was required.

UCR guy: (chopping wheels in the singletrack): oh, sorry.
Me: ooookay, huff huff huff pant pant.
UCR guy: (going backwards, slamming into bars, elbows, shoulders hips): oh, shit.
Me: really dooood??
UCR guy not taking the slippery corners very well, gapping us out: Shit!

And it was all great for this guy because, you know, he eventually recovered and totally gapped us, Powers-style.

And lo, there was peace, epic hammering, and awesomeness for some time.

But sometime doesn't last all the time, which is why I was so delightfully happy to see this dude dragging an anchor across the OC dirt and carrying a piano on his back halfway through the last lap.  I smiled as we went by; him hopeless to respond.  Cross is an aggressive sport, to be sure, but there's no need for this silliness at our level.


Pedal, Damn You!!!!

It looks like I will again be battling for top 10s.  And when I say battling, I mean FLOGGING myself.  It was cool to see some improvement in late race finishing over last year (in which i was nursing myself across the line to save a 7th or 15th or whatever).  I legitimately caught a group of 3 in the final lap, and if not for missing my pedals 20,000,000,000,000 times over the final barrier section, I might have been able to catch that group and sprint it out with them.  It looks like the boys from pegasus will be around my speed this year, as well as a few others, so it should be a great season to make new friends with them and to have epic cross battles.

Still no idea where I finished.  Results were a bit confused, but such is life.  We have a wonderful series in SoCal with an amazing director and fantastic volunteers.  I'm hoping for a nice top - 15, but we'll see.

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