Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Ocup Lucky Number 7 (Denis' Report)

Saturday (Aug 21st) pre ride was fun and fast. Thanks Chico Racing for keeping the Ocup circuit interesting and adding new courses such as Woodnewton.
But all weekend I had been crunching the numbers trying to figure out if it was at all possible to be first overall in Master Sport 30-34. Ocup 5 (flat tire) Ocup 6 (no legs) both writeoffs… disasters, and I was down to second position. Unless the 1st place rider finished behind me a few spots there was no way I could catch up. That said I was OK with 2nd overall so I set my focus to take the win for this last race.
During the warm-up I was all nerves and big time stressed out trying while trying to decide on a strategy. Do I lead out? Do I draft the leaders? Do I attack on the first lap or wait for later?

I lined up with my fellow racers, everyone was in good spirits. The 2 cycle solutions guys (Allan and Kevin) showed up too. It’s cool to get to know the people you race with instead of being aloof. I try and chat it up with anyone in the start pen including / especially my competitors. Finally the race organizer gave the Go and we began the race. The riders seemed to line up according to their overall standings with Alan the leader, myself and Kevin starting the train. (Too bad Jeff couldn't make it) Looks like I choose the "draft the leader" strategy for the first 2km. On the first hilly section sitting 3rd wheel I kicked hard to test the legs and test my opponents. I could only sense a response from one guy and I don’t know his name but he trailed me until we got through the muddy section then he endo’d hard on some single track. I could see the cycle solutions guys working smart to pull me back, which they were, but ah! more hills arrived so I loaded on some pain to try and keep some distance. Nearing the end of the first lap cycle solutions Kevin caught me and attacked which I interpreted as a test since my thinking was that they might be working together. I looked back and Alan, the race series leader, was falling behind and that meant Kevin’s attack was for the win. We both big ringed it to the single track where he was a bit faster. I don’t know what the deal was but my single track skills weren’t adequate. We rounded the start finish and on the double track I grabbed his wheel and paced him for the next half lap. He was strong so I figured I would save my energy if it came to the line. Then I made a slight mistake on some fast sections and went down hard trying to make a corner. I could see first place slipping away and now my only thoughts were to protect second place and to protect my overall standings which at the time was also second place.
With a bit of pressure off my mind I somewhat enjoyed finishing the second lap. I took note of all the spectators cheering and of course my wife and friends shouting encouragement and taking pictures. Then I started the final lap and to my slight dismay there was my race rival fixing a flat tire on the side of the trail. “Dewd… noooo” is all I could say. He had about 45 seconds on me according to the lap times so it’s likely that he would have taken the win. It wasn’t long ago at buckwallow that my lead was reduced to a DNF because I couldn’t repair my flat. That’s the hard reality of racing… you’re dependant on your equipment.
My first place hopes were renewed along with my pain threshold so I loaded down the legs and kept the pain going making quick time of the hills and recovering in the single track. I didn’t have a clue how far behind everyone was so my stress kept me in the pressure zone. By the end of the third and final lap the tanks were empty and with a final Ocup sprint to the line I crossed knowing that the season was finished and I above all I took the win. 3 mins later my competitors started rolling in, some looking just as happy that it was the end, some with other familiar emotions. I’d like to note that Kevin, the guy who flatted, came in second. That was a fast tire tube change dewd!
Later I learned that the race series leader, Alan, also had a flat tire and unfortunately lost a bunch time. We ended up in a tie for first place overall. Not a bad way to finish for either of us. However the tie breaker was the standings at the end of the race which put me in the lead overall. There were certainly too many variables to have predicted that outcome but winning despite the last two bad races is the ultimate reward.

I have no idea if I will compete in MTB Ocups next year. I don’t have to upgrade to expert which is a weird kicker so I could race sport. However that may not be fair to the riders who train hard to race sport.

I will see what the off season brings…. Next is Crank the Shield.

PS. Amy start your write up... I will help you.

No comments:

Post a Comment