Monday, May 16, 2011

Glocester Grind, RI. 2011 Edition!

In all my years of racing, I've never ended a race where I cross the finish line screaming at someone.  Of course there is a first time for everything!

Glocester Grind has some pretty technical sections when the course is dry.  Add some water, mix hard, and it gets nasty!

Though it had sprinkled the night before, the weather was still holding when I was driving down to the race (a nice easy 1/2 hour drive for a change!).  The clouds were pretty dark though and it was only a matter of time before the sky opened up!  I don't mind racing in the rain, but I find it pretty awful to be waiting at the start line while it's pouring.  Got to the race late of course, registered, found my brother (who had spend the weekend in the cape and decided to race this instead of his usual NY State series), and got a little warm up on the course to get a sense of what was coming. 

The start was a mess! Once we entered the woods, the roots, and there were lots of them criss crossing the course, were very slick.  At one point I got tangled up w/ a guy who abruptly dismounted right before a mud pit.  A couple of guys, including my brother passed me as I got untangled. It was a little tricky to pass during the first 1/3 of the course as there was pretty much one line through either the rock garden, the mud pits, or over the roots.  Eventually passed my brother again and a little group of 4 or 5 formed.  I was chasing Rich L. and was sticking to his wheel fairly comfortably until I dabbed.  By the time I got going again he had gained, and since I was not getting comfortable on the bike, he was slowly getting away.   I was now also at the back of the little pack, spending way too much time hesitating, and not clearing stuff that I really should.  My confidence was in the shitter and it was fighting the course way too much.  On lap One I dabbed at least 20 times, endoed on the first bridge crossing, had my hr hit 204 bpm after running through rock garden section w/ hill after it ( I noted to myself that I really should drop to the granny before coming to that rock garden so that I could get on the bike right after rocks instead of trying to run up that hill), and fell pretty hard carrying the bike through the last muddy rock garden.  My foot slipped and both I and my pretty carbon bike landed hard on a rock.   I knew I had caused some damage to the carbon (after the race I found a good gash on the top tube, but thankfully no crack- also found a few gashes on my body as well!), but more relevant was that the bike was no longer shifting correctly, the chain was skipping, and every time I came close to the 34 tooth cog, the chain would get stuck between the cassette and the spokes, meaning I would  have to dismount and pull the chain out.   All in all, not a good first lap at all.  Then the sky opened up and rain came... 

By lap two I had lost the gruppeto but was able to fiddle enough w/ the barrel adjustment to hold the chain in place on the bottom 1/2 of the cassette.  I was able to mentally regroup and my technical skills increased exponentially as a results.  For lap Two, I had a couple of dabs, no falls, cleared the bridge no problem, and rode most the course, besides the rock garden with the hill (though rode up the hill) and the last rock garden with the deep mud pits (in which I almost lost my shoe when I stepped into a puddle of mud that was thigh deep!).  Though the course was getting really slick from the mud and rain, I was feeling more and more confident.  By lap three, I cleaned the first rock garden section and in doing so caught and passed three riders. As I got towards the end of the lap, I caught up to a guy I knew was in my category but had to wait to pass.  As we entered the last turn out of the woods and into the clearing to the finish area, I tried to pass him by taking the inside line onto the grassy area. I sped up and was almost passed him, when he purposefully cut me off, making contact with me and sending me into the brush.  I clearly had the better legs and should have beaten him.  When I crossed the finish line, my adrenaline was pumping and I was pissed.  I was yelling at him that he was an A hole and that he knew I had him and should have let me pass.  He replied since he was in front, the inside line was his and I should not have attempted to take it. I replied that he was not in the line when I took it and was next to him when he knocked into me. He later apologized.  I did not apologize back but perhaps should have because I don't know who is actually right.  Maybe I should not have tried to cut the inside line?  I actually don't know what the etiquette is on taking the inside line from behind. Anyways, I got to feel a little like Cavendish at the beginning of this Giro, in that I too was pissing and moaning crossing the finish line...

10th place, which I was quite content with, especially being able to come back from that first lap.  My brother finished pretty close after too. Thanks to the NBX boys for bringing the beer!

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