Sunday in Gloucester

I’m on a waiting list for the Category C race, so before they give out numbers for us slackers who registered late, I have time to take a quick lap. The C’dale is dialed in and I’m hoping I’m the same. I come back after a quick half lap warm up to registration and they give me a number. Sweet! Unfortunately, the time spent waiting for them to call out names of the no-shows ate into any remaining warm up time. Grab my number, get it pined to my back and got to staging. Because I have arrived late, I’m at the ass end of our 80 plus group of racers. Not so good. The race starts off on pavement, goes uphill for about 75 yards, levels off and then hits the dirt. But the transition from pavement to dirt is where the road narrows and crashes are sure to happen. So my immediate game plan is to jump as hard as I can and pass as many riders as possible before the dirt. Thank God we practiced starts because I was going to need it. Curt Davis is beckoning to me from the sidelines. He squeezes through the staged riders and shows me a text message on his phone from Tim Johnson wishing me luck. Oh great, now I’m feeling the pressure of doing well. But before I start to get O.C.D. about it we’re off and racing. I’m employing all my California criterium skills to move up or push riders out of the way. I’m really a nice person, but in a race I have no compunction to stick an elbow in someone’s ribs or close the door on a rider. I move up and I’m a little in the red-zone. No problem, just surf and recover as much as possible. The course is a power course, which means there aren’t a lot of obstacles that you need to slow down for. There is one set of two barriers on an uphill section, a quick 180 degree downhill to a sharp uphill that you dismount and a sand pit. The weather conditions are perfect for me; high 60s and sunny. This means the course will be dry so you can be on the gas the entire time. After one and a half laps disaster strikes and I puncture. In my muddled, lactic acid state of mind I pull over at the Cannondale truck. “What are you doing? You can get a wheel at the SRAM neutral support!” Damn, I gotta keep going! I remount and ride the flat rim to the neutral wheel pit and get a wheel. My motivation is gone like the wind, so I just put in a steady tempo and make sure I’m not lapped. Although I was disappointed that I couldn’t mix it up as a contender, I still had a great time. Hundreds of people lined the course, yelling encouragement and vigorously ringing cow bells. The overall damage: both hands blistered from the vibrating, skinned left shin and knee from getting whacked by a rider’s wheel when he dismounted, but the bike came away without even so much as a scratch.

Tim and Neil – BFF

After four days of riding the Cannondale cyclocross bike I walk away impressed with the bike’s geometry and the SRAM component group. I did my best to beat the bike like a red headed step child, but it came back for more. I improperly shifted under stress and the rear derailleur still danced across the cogs with ease. Me likey this SRAM group more and more. A SRAM marketing guy was in attendance and told him they need to do yellow hoods. So if they make a yellow hood, you know who to thank. Curt the Cannondale engineer and cyclocross stud (he was top 10 both days in the Master A category) promised he’d send my bike out for further testing. When I get it in my blistered hands I’ll continue to beat on it.

Georgia Gould never left Lyne’s rear wheel until the sprint for the finish

Ryan Trebon went two for two this weekend

Tim acknowledges the home crowd

One comment

  1. Charles says:

    Neil, keep the cross race reports coming. I go to all the other cross sites but yours is one of the best.

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