Friday, November 14, 2014

Cyclo-X Sienna Lake Race Report

I came into this week’s race at Sienna Lake fresh off of a 3rd place finish against a small field last week at Schoolyard Cross. Confident, but not sure how I was going to fare against a larger field, I was excited about the course which appeared to be more of a power course without too many technical sections aside from the ditch. Coming into this week, I was ranked 4th for the Cyclo-X series, so I was hoping to try to improve upon that. With the past couple weeks having been fairly easy for me with only one or two big workouts a week, and the rest mainly endurance rides, I felt nice and fresh.

On Friday, I previewed the course with Kirk and Dave, along with several others (David Belin and Jason Douglass), to get the lay of the land and scope out the ditch to make sure that none of us killed ourselves come race day. Of course, Friday night it poured rain at my house for a few hours, so I was just imagining the ditch being a couple inches deep with water and the grass all super slick, but all the rain served to do was provide for some nice tacky dirt come race day.

At the start, I lined up next to a kid that went to Loveland high school, but I didn’t see too many other juniors there, so I was feeling lucky already. I haven’t been getting a very good start recently due to my pulled hip flexor, and today was no different, as I entered the grass area in around 12th or 15th. I was able to pass a couple riders exiting the grass onto the dirt section before the ditch, and managed to pass a couple more on the dirt road, so I was happy I wasn’t too far back entering the ditch as I noticed other races were getting bogged up and people had to walk the ditch because if was so backed up. Coming out of the ditch I was probably sitting in 8th or so.

For the next couple laps I passed a couple riders, encouraged on each lap by Jeremy Geer who was a fantastic teammate being out there cheering us on (and taking lots of pictures), when I am sure he could have been out testing his nice new mtb.

Going into lap 4 (out of 7) I was surprised that the race had pretty much kept together, and I was only about 5 seconds behind the lead group of 4 riders. As I was catching up to the group on the backside of the course going up the sidewalk, I noticed one of the put in what appeared to be an attack, but it did not last long and they seemed to be playing cat and mouse with nobody wanting to take the lead. I wasn’t really sure what I was thinking, but I knew I didn’t want to let anybody else catch up to the front group, so I decided to ride right by all of them and see I how long I would fare off the front.

At this point, my heart rate was right around 187 as I had it pegged to try to get away from them, and I managed to put about 9 seconds between us, which was still only an uncomfortable lead as anything could happen over the next few laps. My main goal was to try to lay down as much power as possible when possible and ‘ride clean’ as Kirk always tells me for the rest of the race. I took the descent into the ditch nice and slow as I didn’t want my excitement to lead me to crash, but I still managed to totally sketch out and almost crash on the 2nd to last lap.

My family wasn’t here to watch me for this race, but between Jeremy cheering his guts out (thank you!) and the rest of the fans cheering, including one guy who gave me ‘leader high fives’ every time I went by, it really helped me keep going when my legs wanted to do anything but. One guy kept trying to hand me a beer, but it was right before going into the ditch, and I thought that may not be the best idea as it would probably end with me crashing and not even getting a good drink of beer in the process.

The rest of the race was fairly uneventful as I tried to maintain my distance on the rest of the field while not overdoing myself and bonking before the finish. My lap splits were pretty consistent and as follows:
Lap 1 – 6:42
Lap 2 – 6:34
Lap 3 – 6:40
Lap 4 – 6:36
Lap 5 – 6:31
Lap 6 – 6:36
Lap 7 – 6:36

My final gap in front of the 2nd place finisher ended up being 14 seconds.

This was a really fun race for me and I honestly never thought I would actually win a race as a Cat 3, so it is really exciting. I guess that is one good thing that comes with having a month off from work. I am now sitting in first place in the Cyclo-X series and look forward to the Cyclo-X championship at the Bowl of Death!

Thanks for reading,

Greg Jackson

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