Brock takes the human sized hand up! Photo courtesy of Bill Draper

Hilton Indian Lakes Resort Chicago Cross Cup Day 1 – 4A’s and 4B’s by JPC

Hey All, CX racing is fun.  Real fun.  I mean max effort, drooling, snot dripping, tunnel vision inducing, heart pumping fun.  Really.  With that much fun, you would think that I would race more.  Well, after racing 5-6 races back in 2009, then 2 in 2010 and only 1 last year, I decided that I have to get at least 1 race in this year before all my summer fitness fled from my body.

It worked out that I had a free Saturday the same weekend as the double header at the Hilton Indian Lakes Resort.  I’ve never raced at this course, but have heard great things about it and with another race the next day it always seemed that everyone had a ton of fun staying overnight.  I decided to ride that Saturday morning on the regular Spidermonkey group ride, but turned around at Tower.  It was hard to see everyone keep on going, but I didn’t want to shoot my load first thing in the morning since I signed up for the power hour (4A’s and B’s) and would need every bit of whatever to make it through to the end without getting lapped 7 times by Fred Wu.

Of course I was running late and traffic on 290 was slow as usual, but also maybe because of the thunderstorm that just rolled through (there goes that nice dry course).  Luckily, the storm delayed things a bit at the races and I had plenty of time to kit up and roll around to warm up.  Lining up for the 4A’s, I got called up in the 3rd or 4th row (thanks!), I was a little nervous, but then it was go!  Clipped in fine, accelerated on the outside on the first right hand turn and then dived to the inside on the next left hand turn.  Next thing I know I’m maybe top ten and didn’t feel like I was about to explode so I sat tight, stayed upright, tried to pick the least muddy lines up the climbs and stayed loose through the sand sections.  I got a little nervous at the first barrier since I haven’t dismounted or remounted since the previous year, despite this and a little stutter step, it was ok.  The 4’s were only doing 3 laps so I tried to maintain some semblance of measured output, but when I looked down at my heart rate monitor it was pegged at 195 or so.  Oh well.  The tunnel vision wasn’t starting yet, so I kept on going.  I lost a bunch of spots through the next laps, traded spots with the same 3-4 guys until it was done.  Finished 19th.  Fun.

Straight from the finish line I saw that they were lining up the 4B’s so I got in line .. all I wanted was a drink of water, but I got another call up to 4th row or something and then it was go!  (Thought streaming through my head: SH*T, WHAT THE F*CK WAS I THINKING??)  Well, I didn’t have as good of a start and was maybe top 20.  I ended up behind Geoff Pomerantz and kept yelling at him, “I”m coming after you ..!!”  All in good fun of course.  We worked together pretty good (or at least I thought we did) and picked up some more spots.  Overall though, I was shot.  Heart rate was still super high and I think I was seeing two Geoff’s in front of me at times, or maybe it was the Robot’s rider with the huge beard.  As the Robot’s guy passed me, I think I yelled something encouraging, but it probably came out as, “ughha, ugg, ugghh.”  Finished 12th.  Somewhere in there I yelled, “go Lucas!” but quickly realized it wasn’t him because he was too busy trying to get on the podium and way far ahead of me.

So the course was muddy and totally fun, full of off camber turns, muddy climbs, sand berms, etc, I think it suited my dusty mountain biking skills.  Some things I found helpful: 1. when climbing on slick terrain, it’s ok to get out of the saddle, but shift your weight to the nose of your saddle to keep your CG centered between the front and rear wheels (front doesn’t lift and rear maintains traction) 2. when making hard turns in the mud, adjust your speed before the turn, go wide and hit the apex of the corner while shifting your body weight to the outside pedal while pushing down on the bars on the inside (same advice that Trent just sent out in this link) 3. and lastly pre-shifting, time your shifts so you’re in the gear for that climb or sand, just before you’re actually on that climb or in the sand, shifting while on that climb or in that sand while mashing your pedals usually doesn’t work well.

That’s it.  It was a ton of fun and thanks to everyone for the heckling.  Glad I got to have some drinks in the Cave, but sad I missed the human hand up on Sunday (see top picture).