Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Macon CX Race

The Macon course is one of my favorites and in my opinion would be the best candidate for a UCI race. When I think of Macon I think of flat, but the course has a nice steep hill, a result of when they built the lake.

The course starts out on pavement long and straight until you reach the end and veer off into the grass right into a slightly downhill barrier dismount. I was not a fan of this dismount because I thought it invited injury, but the elite guys loved it because they could catch major air over the boards. This section melded into a long(!) gravel pave section which was mainly downhill and had a nice 180 turn that caused many crashes. The GTC pave rides made this child's play. once around this corner you went uphill on the gravel to a field with short grass. This part of the course was serpentine and really slowed you down. Emerging from this was another 180 on grass downhill to the trickiest part of the course: the sandy beach.

I knew that to win the race you would have to be clear of the sand in the first 2-3 people. The sand was not rideable for me and to dismount before risked certain death since it was downhill and abrupt. I made it through each lap and the remount out of the sand had to be planned for by having your bike set up in the small ring so you could ride out. This was the key.

After this section was another twisty grass section and then the very cool steep grassy run/ride up. This was about 10-12% grade but I was able to ride it each lap. Since everyone would have a tough time here, I did not think it would be too decisive. The finish was after this hill on pavement.

The Race

We started out fast to get to the barriers. I was about 5th position until we hit the gravel road. I knew by now that Perry liked to ride alone and would try to make a gap stick. He and I were able to get a gap on the others and I was able to ride with him for 3 laps until he rode me off of his wheel. I was never able to bridge the gap but he did flat and lost time in front of me. In the end he only beat me by about 15 seconds. I was surprised that no one else made the break with us. I was able to put time into the chase and again finished second. I felt stronger as the race progressed which I saw as a good sign. I felt pretty worked over at the end and the course (and Perry) made it a lot harder than in years past.

The way to put time into people in CX is to figure out where they will be recovering and ride hard through those sections. In road racing, you can sit in the group and rest. In CX this is normally impossible, especially if you are chasing. So you have to make it a race of inches and unlost time. Never rest-always push!

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