Keep on keeping on
By John Neal | Jul 20, 2014
Race name: WORS/Palos
Race date: Sunday, Jul 20, 2014
Keep on keeping on
This is a report about two races with similar results
Race 1 July 11th at Cascade Mountain, WORS Short Track mountain bike (think mountain bike crit on 2 mile course)
I drove with the family on Friday afternoon to Cascade Mountain for the WORS Subaru Cup races (Short Track, Down Hill & Cross Country Race). This is a great venue, popular with WORS racers, popular with folks in the mountain bike scene not just in the Midwest but also, all over the country. This race occurs a week before nationals, so the draw is high.
This was my first short track race, I was definitely pumped to participate. I had a great warm-up, was fueled up, hydrated, & my bike set up to hit it. My race started at 6:30 with 36 in my wave. I was in the 4th row for the start and the place is just packed. (Lots of spectators, loud music, cowbells)
Within 45 seconds of the start I picked my way on the outside to the front with a couple passes next to the tape (the course is the width of a typical cross race so there’s plenty of room to make some decisions) Anyway, at the end of first lap I’m in the lead group, which are 4. I’m completely thinking of all my fellow XXXr’s and the crit races I’ve watched this summer and could only have positive thoughts of ‘oh this is why people like it’. Laps 1 & 2 I’m in front, laps 3 & 4 I’m third and lap 5 I’m back at the front but it’s clear that the other 3 are waiting for their opportunity and letting me lead the way. I make a decision that no way is that happening and I drop back to fourth and as I assess the other 3 I know there’s no way in hell they can beat me. I figure I’ll hang back and capitalized when the time is right. Well the music is loud, spectators are on the tape cheering and as I look at the digital lap counter I see it’s broken. I think “hey no problem I’ll hear the bell for last lap.” I’m still in a group of 4 and I’m still thinking “no way in hell I’m losing.” Getting ready because I think it’s the last lap and… it’s over. 4th. “What the??” I didn’t hear the bell, digital lap counter was not working and I completely coast across the finish line.
I was so focused on trying to win that the ever so slight details escaped me. There was a manual lap counter right next to the digital one. Had I been paying attention, most certainly a different result would have occurred. Keep on keeping on to the next race
Race 2 July 20 at Palos. I’ve done well here before. Gotten 1st age, 1st overall in cat 3’s, did well last year in my early goings of cat 2. Goal for the race was 1st/1st. Pretty good start and I’m into the single track sitting 4th out of the 75+ in the wave. I know this course & trails well. I’m making my way to the front of my wave pretty quick and I’m catching the stragglers from the previous wave that went off 90 seconds before me. By the mid point or so of lap 1 of 2 I’m in good position, but I’m greedy and I don’t like people in front of me so I continue to pass on corners, up hill, down hill wherever there’s opportunity. I’m coming up to group of 3 to 4 riders and I think I can get them all. It’s a straightaway and I give the first guy a heads up “passing on your left can you slide over”. He slides but as I pass he moves back towards me and Kaa Pow I’m over the bars aka Tien Style (sorry Tien), still clipped in and I land on my side and arm. Amazingly after 2 minutes to collect myself and do an assessment and determine nothing is broken I’m back on the bike. Good News is I'm ok bike ok Bad News is 20+ riders pass me. Short memory is in this case a characteristic of mine that is working. I’m passing people again and although I don’t know if it’s the same ones who just passed me or ones I would of passed anyway is a mystery. After 10-15 minutes I feel good and I’m moving up. I hook up with an individual who is near my pace and we ride together, I pass and lead for a bit only to have.. Ka Pow II happen with another over the bars from a pedal strike on a rock. This should of never happened, I was catching a breath but instead of having pedals at 3:00/9:00 I had them at 12:00/6:00. Details again ignored. This crash isn’t anywhere near as violent but it takes me out for 30-60 seconds and I lose the guy I was riding with. I end up passing one and getting passed for the first time in the race by one other rider (who happens to be our strong junior rider Jan Geirlach). I end up 4th in age out of 57 and 14th overall out of 160 but this was not what I was looking for as the outcome.
So what do these races have in common? In my opinion it’s the small details. In the WORS race if I just would of broadened my scope I would have seen the manual counter. At Palos I had 1st/1st but if I just would of waited a few minutes to pass in a better spot or pass one at a time and kept my head on straight about pedal position I would of accomplished my goal.
Aggressive riding is how I race but every once in awhile I think I need to just sit back and think a little more about the big picture. This morning, even though I’m beat up and sore I was on the LakePath for an hour, this afternoon I was at The Garden with my kids to work on some cornering with my cross bike.
Keep on keeping on
We were well represented at Palos- Juan V, Brian P, Mark B & Juniors Jan (1st age and 13th overall cat 2) & Pelle Gierlach all raced and did well, Which was great to see.