The VeloWorks-Spokes, Etc. team came out to play at Schooley Mill this year. VWS represented in almost every field until the early afternoon with Kim (9th in the 4s), Jamie (6th in the 4s and the 18th in the3/4s), Brian (16th in the 5s), Sean (1st in the Masters B), Dan (DNF with a rolled tire in the Masters B), Beth (3rd in the 3/4s), Chris (36th in the 3/4s), Eric (1st in the 45+) and Eric‘s son, Allen (9-10) all hitting the start line on a gorgeous October day.
A lot of great racing, so this week we’ll let the racers give some firsthand reports.
Sean‘s report from the Masters (35+) B :
Second race of the Super8 series. Dan had 4th in the series points and I was 9th. He gets front row by Super8 rules and I am at the mercy of Crossresults. Luck was with me and I got the last front row spot. Second week in row 1. I have lucked out on that one.
I enter the grass around 4th or so I think which is where I want to be and we are off. My goal is to end my long reign of Bonzai attacks on lap 1 and actually ride with more brains than brawn. While I am not the Lap 1 Hero I do end up settling into a good group of 3 after 2 laps.
One guy won Hyattsville last weekend and has ridden away from be at 2 other races for solo wins. The other guy is an unknown huge Cat 4 with a diesel engine. The Diesel (TD) pulls us for over a lap while Solo Artist (SA) and Lap 1 Hero (L1H, me) right his tail. When he is starting to obviously fade L1H calls up for SA to help him out. A few turns later they start the 35 minute trades. Each gives about a third to half a lap before pulling off.
They are slowly growing a gap to 4th but it is still a bit too close for comfort. SA had tried a couple digs checking over his shoulder but nothing seems to phase The Diesel or Lap 1 Hero. When they get to the low point of the course near a pond about to start 3 laps to go, SA launches a hard charge which will go on for several minutes. TD winds up the engine to drag him back and L1H follows. Mostly a free tow but L1H pulled around to finish it off. At least that is how he remembers it.
This attack gives the group of 3 about 10-15 seconds which holds to the end of the race. A truce is reached without words and they finish the last 3 laps passing traffic and staying safe while holding the pace.
Last time up the backside climb TD is on the front fading pretty hard and SA tastes blood. He does an attack which L1H follows. A couple pedal strokes into it just as we pass TD and SA hesitates, probably shifting gears. L1H was following too close and when the hesitation happens he carries speed crossing wheels at the same time. Luckily not a lot of speed so the shoe gets unclipped for a dab just as SA pushes on with the attack. 6 bike lengths open and there is a bit of a chase. Luckily SA did not look back to realize what had happened. By the barriers SA and L1H are back together with TD off the back.
Neither party knows the other’s sprint prowess but L1H is pretty confident he never saw a sprint situation he did not savor. The turn up from the pond the final time on the finish hill winds up to 17mph up the grass and we hit the road. Side by side they go with L1H finally getting to raise his arms at the Cat 3 level. SA’s head drops.
Victory for L1H!>
I’ll preface this with sheer admiration for those of you who remember so much detail from your race!
I had a second row start and lined up behind a strong BBC rider on the far left by the curb. Whistle goes off and she misses her pedal so I have to go around her. Uphill starts hurt. I thought I hit the grass around 6th wheel but just watched Cyclboredom’s video of our race and it was more like 9th wheel (minor details, ha!). I was behind a few riders that started to let the gap open up from the front of the race so I knew I had to get around as soon as I could. I made a few passes before it got all turny but was stuck behind one rider whose skills weren’t great and the gap grew bigger.
Once we got to the long downhill I hammered along the grass since most were riding the dirt singletrack; I passed at least one rider in my race and one or two Masters racers. Had to scrub a lot of speed in the corner since it was super dicey but made it around clean. Made up some more time climbing the hill and don’t remember a whole lot from there. In the third lap a BBC rider zipped past me at the barriers and I laid it on to get that place back before the off camber turny part and just rode as hard as I could til coming back onto the pavement to start the last lap. She never caught back up. I wasn’t sure what position I was in so I just tried to keep it clean and fast. I almost went down when a masters rider washed out on a turn in front of me but saved myself and got past her. Unfortunately, even though I announced I wasn’t in her race and wanted to pass before we got to that turn, she didn’t seem to want to let me pass and kinda blocked me on the part that would have been a cleaner place to pass. In future races I will have to remember her and be careful when passing.
When I came around the rocky, sandy turn to climb the hill I saw the little RCV phenom about halfway up the hill. I figured either she was further back than she usually is or I was farther up than I thought I was. Either way, I kinda wanted to pass her. I dug deep to climb that hill as fast as I could and closed the gap a lot. She was just a few bike lengths away at the turn after the top of the hill and she was looking back at me. Alas, I was pooped from the climb and had to recover before hitting the barriers. I know that if I am redlined going into something technical I just don’t perform well. I didn’t want to flub the last barrier crossing! In retrospect, I probably should have been more conservative on the climb to allow me to keep the pace up til the end. I knew I probably couldn’t get any closer until the last section before the finishing paved climb. I put in as much speed as I could without being too risky and got closer on the last grass section before the pavement but lost my mojo once she turned onto the road. I only finished 12 seconds off of her but it seemed like so much further away! If we had one more lap I know I could have passed her…I don’t think I have ever wished for one more lap!
Lessons learned: If I have a crappy start, get around as many riders as possible in the first lap. It’s damn hard to close the gap to the lead rider/group once it opens up too far. It’s so helpful having teammates on the sidelines yelling out stuff. Eric definitely helped me keep my head together during part of the race. Also, I’m learning who the good, consistent wheels are in this field and hope to be in, and able to hold onto, the lead group in future races.
My main goal for the race was to improve my Super 8 series standing, and DCCX starting position, after my 10th place result at Hyattsville. Fortunately, my 3rd place finish at Schooley Mill secured a 3rd place overall in the Super 8 series so I have a first row start for a tough field at DCCX! Yeehaw!!
Schooley Mill Cyclocross was my first chance to defend a leader’s jersey in the Super 8 series. This was a position I had never been in, so I was nervous leading into it. I usually race better without the burden of expectations, so I focused on just racing as it was any other day. Maybe it helped that the jersey that I was given 2 weeks earlier after Hyattsville was too small (seriously) and, without the keeper-of-the-jerseys at the race with whom I might swap, series director Bill Shieken gave me special dispensation to wear the VWS kit.
It was also a very special day for me to race as it was my son Ryker’s 5th birthday. The only bad part of his birthday, however, was that my family was in town and watching. In the past this has coincided with a series of mechanical misfortunes over the last few years. 2 years ago, at DCCX when they were here, I pulled the rear derailleur off it’s hanger, flatted a tire on my pit bike, and snapped a chain ….in one race. Last year, I imploded my rear wheel hopping a small log here at Schooley Mill. So I was a little wary of the family curse.
My last 3 races, I have had challenges getting clipped in smoothly on the start, so I had taken extra time practicing during the week. I also ran through 6 or 7 starts just before the call-up and felt like I had it pretty dialed. Practice paid off and I got away smoothly, despite being pinched on both sides by slightly swerving riders. Hitting the grass in 7 or 8th was a win for me, with my main competition directly in front of me.
I rode patiently for the first lap staying with a lead group of 7 or 8. At the start of the 2nd lap, I moved up on the pavement to a position from which I could attack. On a long stretch just after the pits, I did just that and went to the front. Unfortunately, as I hit a quick left/right, I carried a little too much speed and my back wheel washed out as I exited the turn. No big deal as it was a painless fall and I was able to remount right at the back of the lead group. My shoe’s BOA buckle had come loose in the fall, and when I went to tighten it back down, I realized that the knob had come completely off and was dangling. Was this the return of the family curse? I hoped not.
Over the next couple barriers, I was very conservative to see if the shoe would stay on or even just slip. While it was annoyingly loose, I really didn’t give me any problems then or for the rest of the race. In fact, afterward, I was able to easily pop the buckle back in, though not something I would have tried mid-race.
As we approached the end of the second lap, it was time to go again. I put in a hard dig up the grass and then pavement to the finish line and unhitched all but two riders. On the grass straight after the pits, I attacked again and I had my gap. From there, I rode the obstacles and turns as smooth as possible and drilled it on the exit of each to maintain separation.
With a half lap to go, I realized that the only thing that was going to screw up my race was a fall or a puncture, so I rode conservatively through the gravelly descent and the off-camber turns and stayed upright. Rolling out from the grass to the pavement, I was able to look and see a enough margin to cruise in and wave to the family. If the curse is real, it was pretty tame this year.
Also, see Jamie’s report from her races on her blog.
On to DCCX which is always and awesome atmosphere and awesome competition.