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Cycle-Smart International Cyclocross Weekend …

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Gary Gluck, in green, and Me at the start.

Going into this weekend I had a good recovery after three solid weeks of training.  It was probably the best I have felt going into a race weekend since I returned to racing last year.  Instead of the usual worries about what I hadn't done I spent the week working out some of the bugs in my bike position and getting my tires dialed in a little better.

Banging though the sand!

Saturday was going to be a hard race no matter how you looked at it.  It was a monster field, 150 riders, and there where way too many guys racing in this that had not business still being in the Cat. 4’s. I wanted to try something a little different for this race, so at the start I just plain went for it knowing full well that I was going to pay for it later in the race.  I was rewarded with a really good position after the first lap and surprisingly the cost wasn't as high as I thought it would be.  Yes, I did give up some positions later in the race, but my lap times after the first lap were 9:11, 9:13 and a final lap of 9:12.  Never expected my times to stay that consistent after the effort I put in at the start.   The one thing that I did notice that I need to work on was at the start of the second lap a teammate passed me and I was able to hang with him for the second lap.  On the third lap, every time we accelerated out of a corner a little gap would open and it got harder and harder to close it down until I finally snapped.  All of a sudden I was 19 seconds behind him.  Finished 54 out of 133.

Looking through the corner.

Sunday I knew was going to be a totally different day as soon as I started warming up.  My legs had no snap to them.  I could push a big gear, but had no cadence at all.  After the results from the day before, I decided to try the same thing and just go at the start.  They ended up being the best move of the day as there were at least three pileups right off the start.  I managed to stay clear of all the chaos and had a good position when things settled down.  Unfortunately my legs never came around, and although I kept a steady pace for the whole race I did give up positions slowly throughout the race.  I was in a group at the end of lap two and didn't hit the lap counter, but what I did get was my average speed for laps 2 and 3 was 12.9.  My average speed for the last lap was 13.2, so that still tells me that I was going as strong at the end as the beginning.  No complains there!  Finished 55 out of 132.

As for the course, it was great.  Adam Myerson and company put on a first class event and it is one that I am already looking forward to for next year.  The course was fast, dry and still challenging.  Both days had full fields in the Cat. 4’s, but the course was open enough that the racing fun.  Can you use fun to describe a ‘cross race?

Providence Cyclocross Festival ...

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

Game Face

Saturday:
I went into this event without any real plan.  I had been sick all week and lost 10 pounds in the 9 days heading into the weekend.  I hopped onto the course to get in a quick pre-ride after the first race ended.  Then I took my pit wheels to the pit area.  At some point during this they called for staging and I never heard it.  By time I arrived at staging it was too late for my call-up, so they stuck me in the back.  If nothing else, it gave me a plan for the race.  Go hard until you can’t go any more, and then go harder.  It may not have been the most elegant plan, but I did learn something from it.  For the 40 minutes of the race I had an average heart rate of 182, which was higher than I thought I could maintain.  I ended up with a solid 60th out of 99 finishers.

Later in the day I found myself sitting with a bunch of great friends watching the pro race.  Holy shit those guys are fast.  In my race I am looking to go about 45 seconds a lap faster to finish near the front.  These guys were going 4 minutes a lap faster than me.  Watching them also showed me that you can really hammer through some of the corners that I was crawling through because I just didn’t feel like there was enough traction.  They seemed to trust that the bike was going to go where they pointed it.  Jeremy Powers held on to win over a determined looking Ryan Trebon.

Fly Over

Making the pass

Sunday:
I had a solid plan for the race today.  Make my call-up, start hard and suffer.  I dropped my wheels off in the pit area at the start of the race before mine and then started working on getting a good warmed up.  I made my call-up in the 5th row.  It was kind of neat being that close to the front without having to kill myself getting there.  Once the whistle sounded, I again tried to get by as many people as possible before the course narrowed.  I really worked on trying to trust my tires and drive through the corners during this race.  I have no idea where I was running position wise, but this was the first time that I could still see the leader at the end of the first lap in a race of this caliber   The next three laps where just a case of holding my position and gaining any that I could.  I had a much better sprint at the end and gained two spots in the final 100 meters to finish 34 out of 77 finishers.  It ended up being a GREAT race, and lets me know that what I worked on all summer should pay off.  This was far and away the best 'cross race that I have had.

It was great seeing the crew Saturday at the pro race and even better getting to line up with a couple of good friends and battling it out on the course.  This might be the best part of racing ‘cross.  I didn't see any pictures of the three of us together, but someone had a good one of John and Gary.

John and Gary

2011 Cyclocross Season Review

Added on by Ray Insalaco.

For the most part my plan for this season was just to get back into the swing of racing.  Over the course of the season I just happened to learn quite a bit about myself in the process.  Some of the biggest surprises had to do with training.  Mainly things that I thought would work and things that actually did work.  The following is my race by race breakdown of the season and some quick thoughts on the race.

Providence Cross Fest Day 1 (77/89) 10/8/2011
Time Back: 0:09:20

Wow!  I completely forgot how fast cross races were.  Completely not ready for this.  I was the first or second to last person not lapped.

Providence Cross Fest Day 2 (62/67) 10/9/2011
Time Back: lap

This was very much a continued learning experience.  Was not ready for back to back days racing, and was so happy when the leader caught me.  It felt like the whole race was up hill in a wet spongy field.

Mansfield Hollow Cross (42/56) 10/15/2011
Time Back: lap

I had a pretty good start here, but again found my fitness lacking.  Felt pretty quick on the lower part of the course that was fairly hard, but I had nothing on the upper part of the course that was mostly open field.  Just watched people ride away from me there.  Started to see some of the areas that I needed to work on.

Cycle-Smart International Day 2 (110/135) 11/6/2011
Time Back: 0:07:03

This was the first race where I was happy with how my day went.  Started at the back, and was able to move forward for a change.  Crashed on the last lap and bend the derailleur hanger, but still finished strong.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 1 (38/57) 11/26/2011
Time Back: 0:05:29

Started in the last row and got tangled in a crash at the start.  It was lap two before I was finally able to start moving forward.  Hooked up with John Young on lap three and worked with him for the last couple of laps.  By far the best race of the season.

Baystate Cyclocross Day 2 (30/34) 11/27/2011
Time Back: 0:06:55

I was the last row at the start.  My legs never really came around.  Guess I still was not ready for the back to back race days.  Still a good day for the most part.

NBX GP of Cross Day 1 (82/111) 12/3/2011
Time Back: 0:07:26

Started near the back and moved up really good on the start.  Had a great ride going for the first two and a half laps until a pointless crash the tweaked my front wheel.  Had to ride to the pits with the front breaks released so that the wheel would turn.  During the wheel change we found that my skewers had been stolen from my pit wheels.  Quit counting at 25 places lost during the wheel change.   Had a monster lap after the wheel change.  Adrenalin can be a wonderful thing, but I popped on the last lap.  All in all a good race.

NBX GP of Cross Day 2 (64/106) 12/4/2011
Time Back: 0:05:24

Had a good start and was rode pretty good.  This was a rather uneventful race.  Faded a little at the end.  The only negative was that Bunny Boy got me at the line.  This was probably my best race of the year.

Expo Wheelmen SalvageCross (26/51) 12/10/2011
Time Back:  

FRONT ROW START!  Had a good start, unfortunately I felt awful.  I pretty much just tried to not give up spots two fast for the first couple of laps.  Felt really good for the last lap and a half, where I picked a couple spots back up.

DAS Cross 12/11/2011
Time Back: 

I was still a little tired from the day before, and it was very cold.  More or less had a good day.  I was riding much better at the end that early in the race.

New England Regional Championships Day 2 (37/61) 12/18/2011
Time Back: 0:04:58

This was the first race of the year were I started far enough forward to be called up.  It was the last row to get called up, but it was a call up!  It was VERY cold at the start, and I had not had time to pre ride the whole course, so I started easy for the first lap.  Turned it up on lap two and started moving forward.  Felt GREAT.  Crashed pretty hard on the third lap and that took a lot of the wind out of me.  Didn't start feeling good again until the last lap.  This was the first race that I actually wanted to go another couple of laps.  Great way to end the season.