Canton Cup Cross Race Report 10.31.09: Robbins

Reblogged from here:

Posted by Maietta Factory Racer Jay Robbins

For the second consecutive year, Canton Cup was my first cross race of the season. Training over the past few weeks has been fun, especially doing intervals on the trainer. Now that my body is capable of digesting food again, my watts go up each workout at ridiculous jumps. Most of these workouts have just been nice and stead threshold intervals though, nothing too anaerobic. It’s only been in the past 2 weeks that I’ve tried anything really anaerobic at all. Hopping in Superprestige the other week nearly killed me. I went out hard and tried to keep up with the big boys, only to find out I DEFINITELY did not belong. It was like bonking in the first 1000 meters of Alp d’Huez, not cool! It’s going to be a while before (or if!) I get fast cross legs.

A few changes for this cross season. First off, I’m racing on a small framebuilder’s team, Maietta Factory Racing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed every minute spent on my sweet custom cross bike and I am excited to be part of the team. I’m spoiled to have a custom bike with all the details tailored exactly to my preferences. Everyone should have this opportunity. Secondly, I made the switch to tubulars. I had planned on finding some old cheap aluminum rims to use, but I ended up scoring a front Stinger 5.0 for cheap and I reused an old 303 rear I had laying around. The set weighs in at almost exactly 1300g, lighter than my road set, pretty overkill for cat4 cross. Glued up a pair of Grifos. Of course I waited until the night before the race to actually put the wheels on my bike to test them. Turns out I may have some weird spacing issue with the 303 that causes my wheel to seat unevenly and messes with my brakes. Still trying to figure that one out. Ended up having to run my trustworthy Kysrium rear wheel with a Mud2.

Something like 115 people pre-reg’d for the cat4’s this year. I’m not sure how many people started, but the results show 110 finishers. It felt like a lot. We staged off of the course at a 90 degree angle. Despite planning otherwise, I got there late and people were lined up probably at least 30 racers wide and only 3 racers deep. What happened next was my only good move of the day: lining up on the correct side (left side) of this disaster. When we moved up onto the course we made a left, so all the people on the left side (myself included) ended up at the front. The folks on the front right ended up much further back. I was on the second row behind a dude dressed up like Super Mario. It was Halloween and if you wore a costume you got a callup.

Some IBC girls that had just finished their race were warning people next to me how slippery the paved section of the course is. One of them had some sweet road rash. Shortly after the official starts talking about how slippery pavement can be when you’re coming off of wet grass. Fair warning. I took note but in the back of my mind I was probably still thinking yeah, whatever.

The gun went off and we’re on our way. Super Mario got a great start and therefore so did I. Actually it took me way too long to click in and I felt like a clumsy idiot, but I kept pedaling like I had platform pedals. Once I got clipped in I had the opportunity to shoot to the front and get the holeshot, but I figured I bet not start too hot. Superprestige was still in the back of my mind. I was still 8th or 10th or something and out of 120 people and figured that was just fine.

We get to the first set of barriers and I’m thinking no problems, this pace is just fine. I haven’t jumped over real barriers in about a year, but got over without wrecking myself or anything, and even re-mounted OK. After getting back on my bike pedaling got hard. I forgot how much it takes out of you to dismount in cross. We went over some random rocky rooty sections, the long twisty pavement, and come up on the mini barriers. The dude in front of me tries to hop them and goes over the handlebars. I dismount and go around. Getting back on the bike confused me because there was a turn immediately after. I hadn’t gotten to preride the course.

After the mini-barriers I started to feel really torched. I switched to a pace that would let me recover a bit, but apparently that was really slow. People came around me like I was doing a recovery ride. I made it to the spectator friendly track without sliding too many positions, so at least I got to look kind of fast for a lap. Actually I’m pretty sure I was the slowest person at Canton around the track. I could barely move after doing the runup. My legs were worthless.

By the time I got over the third and last set of barriers and completed lap one, my slide was in full effect. For some reason I was sort of riding like the opposite of a roadie. I was getting buried on the power sections and felt like a champ through the turns. Every time I tried to hold a wheel I’d get shelled. Finally some dude on a front suspension MTB caught. He was slow as slime (like me) on the grassy power sections but cruised over the roots, rocks, and turns. We rode together for most of the second lap. I think he finally smoked me after the third set of barriers. I was deathly slow after any dismount.

On the start of the third lap I was overtaken by a large pack of 5-10 racers including NEBC’s linebacker turned roadie Jim Thomas. With a familiar face to chase, I tried picking it up. It’s hard holding a wheel in cross when you’re tired though. I messed up the uphill barriers a bit and got gapped. As I was trying to close up the gap, we came up to the twisty pavement section. Sure enough, I went into the second turn a bit too hot, feel my front tire fold a bit, and next thing I know I’m sliding on the pavement. Scraped up my right shin, a few cuts on my hands, but at least I didn’t cut up my new skinsuit!

If possible, I went even slower after crashing. Maybe I just hurt more, maybe I was afraid of crashing again, or maybe I just went slower because I had an excuse. Whatever the reason, I lost almost a minute and a half on Jim’s group before finishing.

However, I couldn’t be finished without one last insult to injury. After going over the barriers for the last time I was passed during the remount by a Geekhouse guy in a Halloween costume. I immediately hopped on his wheel, but shortly after a spectator heckled me:

“Are you seriously going to draft someone in a Halloween costume?!”

OK sure, good point. This is embarrassing. I took about 2 hard pedal strokes, then realized that pedaling that hard hurt and I didn’t like it, and then got smoked by the Halloween costume. At least I didn’t ride his wheel to the finish.

I finished 66th out of 110 finishers in 33:17. Winning time was 28:59. I wonder how I would have ended up if I hadn’t gone out with the leaders and rode my own pace. I’d give up any shot of winning but maybe I wouldn’t have blown myself to bits. Or maybe I would have just another half lap later. Who knows. I figure I might as well start hard, stay at the front as long as I can, and try to hold it together. It was fun anyways. Next week is Noho and I reg’d about 3rd or 4th, so hopefully I can start on the front row and really blow myself up. Can’t wait!

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