Chicken has been served

2008 Carpentersville Cross Race 069 (Medium)

So I decided that today would be the day and I took the plunge. No more chicken for me. I decided it was time to try my hand at cyclocross. The event was the Carpentersville Race #4 on the Chicago Cyclocross Cup series.

I arrived early at 8:30ish to pre-ride the course and register. I was met by some cold weather. Tights, long gloves, winter vest, cap type of cold weather. I am firmly convinced the biting cold was mother nature’s way of say, “HEY YOU KIDS! STOP MESSING UP MY PARKS!”

I met up with teammate MJH2 and we pre-rode the course. In short order we were wondering why we were doing this. Specifically we took issue with the following:

  1. It’s hard. Like, “OMG! Is daddy going to die mommy? Why can’t he breathe?” kind of hard.
  2. It takes place on this substance called “off-road”. Apparantly this substance is filled with ruts, holes, is not consistant in texture or hardness, and generall means you will not be able to change you hand position for the duration for fear that you will die if you try.
  3. They let locals place big barriers (big wooden boards) across the trail. This means you must get off your bike….I know…WTF right?! I heard one local describe it as such, “if they’re going to come into our park wearing lycra and (literally) dress like superheros and tear up our park then I want to see carnage. Blood will work.
  4. They thought it would be cool to make you ride through a sand pit. Like sandbox, playground sand. No…beach sand. Ever ride a bike on a beach? How’d that work for you? Thought so.
  5. Sometimes the slower you go, the faster you are. See? I told you…these off-road types smoke lots of dope.

Generally we felt like we were going to learn a few things. With a few practice laps behind us we each took off. 4B was our category (beginner) and our category’s race was at 3:00pm – last race.

I came back in time to catch part of the Cat 1,2,3 race. Bicycle Heaven (my team) had 3 guys in The 1,2,3 race. It was intense to see those guys so gassed.

We did our typical “no warm up” warmup and went to toe the line. The organizers gave us a thumbs up to pre-ride a lap so I headed out right behind our new teammate JAnd. It started to feel good to have everyone behind me on that lap. Started to get my mind into competition mode.
2008 Carpentersville Cross Race 012 (Medium)
Pre-race lap.

I ended up going through the sand pit when I noticed that there were a lot of guys lining up at the start. Then I noticed that there was no one behind me. Ooops. I guess they didn’t really mean, “take a lap”. What was I thinking….:(

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The 4 b field. There are 67 riders in there…obviously the picture doesn’t display the width of the field. It was big.
We sat at the start for a bunch of time. I started with the typical pre-race jokes about how bad I am going to suck and how I just want to get through it, etc. It’s my way of getting my game face on.

“Riders Ready”-whistle!

Just like a crit. I took it easy right at the start and didn’t push for position. I figured why should I when all I was trying to do was get around the course. I even took it easy enough that MJH2, myself and a rider from xXx were chit-chatting through the first few turns.

My first impressions have stuck with me. The first turn was like a crit in bad weather. To give you an idea what I mean imagine taking a handful of forks and knives and stand holding them just under your chin. Now drop them into an empty water bottle located on the floor between your feet….all at once. Did that hurt? Exactly.

After that each corner was like squeezing taffy out of a 50# bag through a 1/2″ hole in the corner of it. The flow was slow and solid, but if you tried to push it you’d “break the bag” and end up with a mess on your hands.

After that the pain quickly settled in. I went anerobic in a hurry and stayed there for the duration. There were a lot of people biting it all over the place. Carnage. Feet, bodies, bikes, everywhere.

I made it over the first hurdle and lost a bunch of places remounting. I got gapped by MJH2 at that point as well. I never recovered that gap. Coming around to the sand pit I had 2 options: Ride it or Run it. I wanted to ride it, but just felt like I was going to do a header coming into it. Thing is it is kind of a good idea to know what you’re going to do before you actually get to the pit. Sucks making a decision at high speed last second.

With the mass of humanity in the pit in front of me I decided I should run. I passed a ton of guys. Everyone getting jammed up, people falling, getting tangled. It felt like a football game and I had the ball.
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Giving it my “Oooo” face…

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Newly found teamate JAnd. Giving it his “Ooo” face…

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…Where are you going MJH2?? The trail is over there…

After that I barely remember the rest of the first lap. Pain set in. I was able to slam the flat and road sections. I did great on the technical sections which allowed me to stay on the bike. It was the dismounting and remounting that killed me. I knew it would though.
Passing the start finish on the first lap I looked at the officials and begged for them to spare my life. Turns out they don’t pull people in cross…..

Second lap was more of the same. This time I was right behind a Tati rider Kyle or Kevin something. I only knew this because there was a Tati clan member on every corner yelling words of encouragement and support.

This was the guy that we had lapped during the first crit at Fall Fling. When we had lapped him we thought he was actually Brian Hague and stopped chasing as hard thinking we had reeled him back in. So….from this point forward he is now known to me as “Fake Hauge”.
Anyway, I was riding behind him while totally gassed. I had it on the flats, but he’d smooth through the obsticles well. Finally I just started wheelsucking looking to pass time. It was the wrong move because we lost a ton of ground on the guys in front of us, but I was gassed and needed the recovery.

I started to notice he wasn’t thinking about the terrain to come and shifting before getting to it so I started yelling out for him to. Not sure he knew who I was or that I was in just trying to help, but he did end up picking up some of what I was saying. No one likes unsolicited help during a race, but I was really just trying to help if you end up reading this….
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Our buddy J Bernaeyge in the Area 51 Tatoo jersey leading Super Girl out of the sand pit

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So this is running? This sucks…

In the shot above you can just barely make out that I have a spot of red on my left knee. Just before this section I hit a weird hole that came out of nowhere and twisted the front end up bad. The result is that somehow my kneecap smacked the back of the stem. it started swelling almost instantly and was almost an excuse for making the rest of the pain end by quitting.

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Remounting isn’t nearly as much fun as it sounds…

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Cottage of wattage…

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Who the F put boards across a perfectly good course….wtf??!!…”Fake Hauge” is next to me in the Orange.

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…again with the running….

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Bye-bye guys…

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Fly over this stuff already.

2008 Carpentersville Cross Race 074 (Medium)
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“Who’s your daddy.” MJH2 making the pit his bitch. I especially like the rooster tail.
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Me…not so much. You might notice in this shot that my chain is just dangling here. I forgot what I did to it but I basically kicked the crap out of the bike dismounting or lifting it and dropped the chain. At this point I was looking for someone to tell me I should just quit. Instead I calmly decided to fix it….out of the way of other traffic…calmly. That’s what should be done after all…

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2008 Carpentersville Cross Race 060 (Medium)
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See ya….love these shots. Too fast for the camera to catch you.

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My shoulder is bruised…now I know why.

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Again….see ya….whooooooooosh….

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“So…that sucked. Right? Wanna do it again? Yeah, me too.”

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He may look like his mother, but bet you can’t guess where he got his goofy grin and sense of humor from….

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Oh, and in good style the promoter had a real Cross beer garden. Seriously folks…where did you think I was going? MJH2 on left and JAnd on right.

So…to make an already long race report longer I’ll just mention this:

  • One of the hardest things I have ever done on a bike
  • I loved it
  • I now have the following: a kneecap that is either cracked or heavily bruised, bruised shoulder, and a smile across my face.
  • Ara – the team/shop owner was hanging over the fence of the beer garden with a beer in hand yelling for me to pick it up at the end of the straight on one of the laps. I just about dismounted and jumped the fence for the beer.
  • Road is where it’s at, but I can see how cross can become like that bad crack habit you don’t like telling people about.
  • I still hate winter.

The best part of this madness though is that I get to do this every single weekend through December. You can’t see me but I’m holding out devil horns and sticking my tounge out. It just might be allright to go slumming with the dirt crowd every now and then.

For the record they had me down as 40th out of 67. I think it’s total crap. I passed a lot of guys and I was passing lapped traffic at the end. Lapped traffic always screws up the placings. One of the volunteers was encouraging me to protest, but here’s the thing…what difference does it make?

Huge A++++++++ – thumbs up goes to Jeff and the crowd from Main Street Bicycles in Carpentersville for putting on an top shelf event. One of the best I have ever been to in any for of cycling. I have been around this race for 3 years and it just keeps getting better. Not enough can be said for the effort and planning that goes into this. It’s a passion. Thanks Jeff.

Oh….and I discovered Supergirl’s secret identity. I caught her unwinding in the beer garden….

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