I was checking the weather all week. The meteorologists where calling for 80% chance of rain on Sunday and I couldn’t have been happier. I was looking for something to break up the racing so I wouldn’t have to think so much during. However, then I saw the Charm City twitter update about the massive 21 stair flyover and thought that getting off the bike four times in one lap should help crack open some gaps.
Doug and I showed up Friday around noon, a little early as I couldn’t check out the course until 4:30. Doug got the compound ready and I went off for lunch with the Donnelly Tires crew. Ricoh Riott with Running Quail Productions was not only serving as our host house for the weekend but also doing the filming for a video coming out about the new Super Jake and how it raced at Charm City. He also brought Doug his favorite snacks…
After getting on course we headed downtown to a nice Korean joint for some authentic Bi Bim Bap (rice bowls).
Saturday morning was spent watching Euro CX racing and scarfing down pancakes with real Vermont maple syrup that Jamey Driscoll brought me from his recent visit home.
I got to the course around noon and was immediately greeted by the one and only David Carey. The kid with a bigger heart than I could ever hope to have. He is diagnosed with pre B acute lymphoblastic leukemia but certainly doesn’t let the disease own him. He is a fighter and loves to ride bikes so it was only natural that we get out for a half lap on the course.
The good news is that the intensity of his chemo treatment has thinned out to more intermittent visits, though, his energy levels are easily tapped out. His motivation is plentiful though and it sure was humbling to pedal the course with David knowing that while he could only physically do a half lap he wanted to be out there all day. He’ll get there.
After some fun in the sun on course, I chilled and got into the normal routine of things. The last five weekends have all been the same. Doug and I have even developed a formula for when I get on the trainer. I add 10min to the start time (4:15 at Charm so 4:25) then subtract 1 hr (3:25) and that is when I get on the trainer. This gives me 25-30min of warm up and gets me off the trainer at 20min before the race. Then I have 5min to go to the bathroom, do some leg swings and loosen up before spinning around the start grid. They always say 15min before for staging but they are always a little behind schedule for that.
The hat dropped and I found myself floundering to get in my pedal off the line. I was sitting around 10th once we got off the start straight and into the course. This wasn’t a huge deal, though not ideal, I was patient and moved up over the first 2 laps. With the course being so fast and dry there was no need to be at the front to catch early breaks. The first half of the race saw a big group of six or seven riders.
I found the front a few times but getting away was futile. The course had a few punchy bits but then there were some long stretches that would allow someone, who was gapped, to claw back onto the group. The last lap saw a group of four, Jeremy Powers leading, I was on his wheel, followed by Tobin, and then Stephen. I was happy to be sitting second wheel, though I was a little gassed from a dig I put in with two laps to go. That effort with two to go may have been the reason I ended up fourth.
With half a lap to go I was still sitting second wheel then after a stair section, Tobin dive bombed me on the inside and I tried to get him back on the next corner. I couldn’t get the spot back and got slowed down in the meantime so Stephen came around me and that is where I sat. Tobin went on to nip J-Pows, and Stephen hung on for third.
I was happy to be there at the end but a little chuffed at my lack of tactical prowess and inability to be patient. I didn’t have quite enough in the tank to be as aggressive as I needed to be at the end and I paid the price by watching the podium from my tent on the trainer instead of standing up there.
My parents came to the race because Baltimore is only 2.5 hrs from my Pa residence, Emily and I went out to eat with them in Hamden area, noodles, followed by ice cream at the Charmery, a staple in my recovery routine.
Sunday had the same schedule as Saturday. The rain had come down early in the morning but it was nowhere near as torrential as it needed to be. The course was so dusty and dry that every drop was soaked up and made the track faster. The dusty corners turned into Velcro by the time 4:15 rolled around, which always feels great to race but it also makes everyone a great bike driver.
I had a much better start today and found myself sitting third wheel for the first two laps as Stephen drove the pace. I stuck my nose out there for a bit and then Stephen got back on the front and Spencer Petrove weighed in as well. We were starting to crack Tobin a bit but he was fighting like hell. We would lap him by a few seconds and he would pull it right back on the long straight efforts.
This should have been my cue to take it easy and save some for the end of the race but, again, I was certain I could dislodge Tobin and then sit on while Hyde and Spencer took the reins.
This kind of happened. Spencer threw down after I put a dig in and gapped Tobin off the back of him and Hyde. I was on Tobin’s wheel though and was weary to jump around him right away because I didn’t want to bring him back into the mix, I was also gassed and reluctant to give it another go at the moment.
Thus, Spencer and Hyde stayed away then I put a little attack on Tobin with half a lap to go and rode in for 3rd. Tobin rode strong considering we were all gunning for him. But it was good to get him off the top step and off the podium.
Now for a little R&R! five weekends in a row sure makes the cross season go by fast but I am looking forward to, one, not race this weekend, and two get some consistent training in before the next few rounds of the US Cup CX.
Doug gets to fly home too. We will reconvene at DCCX in two weekends time then hit Cincy and Louisville for Pan Am Champs and the last couple rounds of the US Cup series.