Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Murrysville 'Cross 2009

I planned on riding out to the Murrysville Cross race last Saturday, but I decided against it. It was raining and I did not want to be wet and freezing until I actually started racing.

By the time I did actually get there, it was 9:40, and the U19/Cat 4 race started in 20 minutes. I went over to the registration and tried to understand how much it was going to cost me to register for two races, but I was thoroughly confused. It was $5 more for each race than it was on line, $10 for a one day licence, $5 less if I did two, and something else. Too many numbers for my little brain. I was waffling between signing up for both races and skipping the U19 since it started in 15 minutes. Finally I signed up for the U19 with the stipulation that I would come back over later and register for the 3/4.

I rushed back to the Grumbler, threw my clothes on, and bolted on the Thunder's front wheel. There was just enough time to spin up and down the road before we lined up.

The race started with a sprint up the road before turning off to the left. I got up to the front of the pack early on and stayed there. Midway into the race I was in 2nd, with no one close behind, and the leader pretty far ahead. I tried to bridge the gap between me and the leader, but I was not making up any meaningful ground. At that point it occurred to me that I would probably be crushed in the 3/4 race. I rode the rest of the laps without much incidence and finished 2nd overall and 1st in the U19.

For my efforts I got a cowbell medal and a place on the podium, two tires (both for the 2nd in Cat 4), and a super swanky helmet (for the U19 win.) I felt a little bad when I saw that the other U19's looked like they were U16, but whatevs. I might as well use the youngness while I have it.
After that race I was a little tired, and seriously considering skipping the 3/4, but once I grabbed some free coffee (at least I hope it was free. Otherwise I stole some coffee) I was right as rain again. I stood around for an hour before the next race and watched in dismay as the mud covering my legs turned crusty.

At last it was time to line up for the next race. I was mingling in the field when Gregg said "Has anybody ever given you shit about not having a back brake?" "No, nobodys said anything" "Do you even use the front?" "No, I can't really get to it." I replied. The field gave a collective chuckle. I think I was the only SS in that race, and certainly the only fixed gear.

The starting line girl gave us a barely audible 'go' and we took off up the road. I found my self in the middle of the pack, and started to try and work my way up. The course twisted around and rolled back onto the road before going back into the grass. Up ahead, I saw a gnarly crass and several riders pile up around it. Someone yelled "Jay Downnnns!" (which is funny, because he was down, and his name is downs. heh heh.)

Fortunately, I was able to stay on the bike and go wide around the cf. I sprinted up to the first run up, jumped off, and tried to stay on my feet.

(picture stolen from Aaron Bennett's facebook)

I kept my head down and ground up the next section of power sucking grass. For the rest of the lap I continued picking people off, and somewhere around the middle of the second lap, I moved into 2nd place. I was genuinely surprised. I held onto 2nd for a lap or two before Jake Grantham went by me in a slippery turn. Another lap latter someone else passed in almost the same spot.

(photo pirated from Vaughn Wallace's facebook)

Churning the 39x17 through the mud was starting to wear me down, but every time I hit the road section I still had enough energy to get out of the saddle and sprint up. When we started the last lap I had a ProGraphics guy sitting right behind me. I tried to lose him for the remainder of the race, but I just couldn't get a gap on him.

We hit the road for the last time and I gave it everything I had, but he clicked into a faster gear and got me by half a wheel length for 4th.

With four 'cross races on the fixed poo poo thunder, I can honestly say that what I read here when I was looking for info on racing cross fixed is not accurate:

"If you want to race fixed gear cross, make sure you are comfortable with all sorts of flying dismounts and lots of off camber skidding stuff. Prepare to be utterly uncompetitive, but a crowd favorite."

Now that I'm starting to really get the technique of racing the fixed gear down, I don't think that I would be that much faster on a coasting bike, especially in the mud.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette was there taking pictures of the race, and for some reason, they chose to publish my ugly mug bounding over a barrier:

I'm guessing they used my picture because my neon fixed gear with checkered deep V's and flipped cruiser bars is representative of most bikes at a cyclocross race.

(I can't find the actual damn paper, but I guess the color version is prettier anyway.)
Montana Miller of Greensburg jumps over an obstacle in the second Murrysville Cyclocross race held in Murrysville Community Park. Racers sometimes have to get off their bikes and carry them. Mr. Miller came 2nd in the Mens Category 4 & Under 19 race. Photo by: Tony Tye / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (10/25/2009)

As far as I can tell, the above blurb, which is entirely about me, was the only coverage of the race in that paper. I'm hittin the big time now. Nice.

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