Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tough run up, hills, and Donuts

        This week's race was the opener for the local Surf City Cyclocross series on a Ben Jacques-Maynes designed course at Aptos high. The course was a mixture of  technical descents and quick short climbs with an pedal section thrown in here and there.
          The start was on the northwest side of the gym going north, passing the pits and looping around to the southeast side before turning up a long steep loose run up, but not before a barrier.

Photo From: Surf City Cx facebook
         Following the run up was a short pavement sprint before dropping down the first short but steep as the course  descended into the school, across a quad and up a few concert stairs. Two pedal strokes after the stairs was a short climb starting with a few roots and stumps, before smoothing out and the second short descent.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
         This descent was loose sandy dirt fading away right turn leading to a pedaling section around the outside school's softball fields ending with a gravel pit and a short hairpin across a black top basketball court. Coming off the basketball court the course quickly ascended on to a gravel road, before just as quickly doing an about face and heading back down onto concrete looping next to the pits for a second time in the lap. Immediately coming off the concrete near the pits there was a choice of taking the high line with a steep run, or the low line a off camber sandy climb, both leading to a quick sandy descent quickly into a loose right turn lead to the second loose run up, which had section on the far right that became easily ride able later in day. At the top of the second run up was a quick pedal on a path used for disc golf before a quick but tight left-right chicane to slow racers down before a steep and bumpy descent onto the road. Just as quick as the course dropped onto the road it hopped over the curb on the other ride leading into a quick shallow descending off camber right turn before a long fast pedal down the left field wall and foul line of the baseball field with a really fun chicane halfway around the outfield wall. After making the way around the ball field was a tight hairpin and a muddy climb dumping onto the right side of more pavement and a little more climbing before dropping off the left side of the pavement and a quick hard pack dirt walkway  leading back to the start/finish.

         As they called the Men's B racers to the start was just finishing preriding the course and lined up forth row, about 35th  Although before bring the racers to the line they did call ups, and based on results from last year, I received the number 7 call up and a front row start.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
         On the start I was about fifth, but dove inside of the first turn and broke late sliding into third on the way around the gym towards the run up. At the top of the run up, I found myself ahead of little Ben and a second racer while the front two racers, Alec Howard and Isaiah Rapko were off and build and a gap. Ben the other racer and myself would lead the pack for the first lap, but as we climbed the run up on the second lap they both seemed to have an easier time and got to the top before I could. From there they made formed a gap on me, and would maintain it the rest of the race. For the nest two laps I rode by myself trying to maintain pace, but my laps would just keep getting slower, and I started making mistakes.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Almost going off course and having to unclip
         With two laps to go, after coming down the steep descent on to road while attempting to go over the next curb, I caught the my front wheel and went over the bars landing on both wrists and my shoulder. I was quick to get up and on the bike but my front shifter was pointing 45 degrees towards the other shifter. I slowly made it down past the baseball field wacking my shifter straight and regaining composure, but would loose a lot of time and energy going into the bell lap.

Photo By :Samantha Smallwood
Going into the bell lap, Rob's shadow close behind
Shortly after crossing the line with the bell banging, I found my self at the run up for the last time of the race, but this time Rob Martone would say "Hi" and talk briftly about how strong I've been riding this year compared to year, before passing me and riding away. At the time I did not know we were racing each other and let him build a gap, taking away what would of been a podium spot. But i continued around the last lap stong by myself and would grab a donut hand out before crossing the line, 6/51.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
NCCX #3 next week, the Stafford Lake Wildcat in Novato.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Unexpected Double Weekend......Double Win

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          Saturday I found myself back at CSUMB for CCCX #6. The course was a mix of speed, turns, and loads of sand. Starting quickly into a left and hard right onto  gravel straight, followed by a second gravel straight flanked on either side by left handed turns. A slight right bend leading to a long hard packed fast pedally section leading right into the middle of the course and all the loose sand/dirt turns and a single telephone pole barrier. Shortly after the barrier was two sand pits, the first being about 20ft and pretty wide, and a short but deep pit before the only hard climb on the course, which  required ducking under a tree half way up. 

Photo By: Steven Woo
The man behind all the Rock Lobster Bikes,
Paul Sadoff, in the sand pit before the climb
Descending from the climb was two lines leading to a hard right, the main line on dirt, making the right a really sharp turn, or a fast inside through the ice plant line, softening the right. The last section was a long maybe 150 foot sand pit, proved trouble for some racers through out the day, and a second pedal section a long the road, and a sustained climb back to the start/finish.  

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          I received the number one call up for leading the series, among a field of great racers and friends. The group for CCCX #6 included Lee "Slonie" Slone, Chris Neher, Matt "Donde" Gracia, Scott Lappe, and young ripper Ben Gomez-Villafone decided to race the B race right after the junior race this week instead of the Elite race, this field meant it was going to be a hard race.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
          Again I had a bad start third off the whistle, but quickly recovered and dove inside on the first turn taking the lead with young Ben, and Lee on my wheel. Something happened behind us close to start and the three of us had a good gap by the end of the first lap. On the second lap, Ben would take the lead after the long pedal section and would build a large gap on Lee and myself.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
       During the middle of the race Lee and I would trade second and third until Ben started to slow near the end of the 5th lap and the gap lessened.  We had made it to within about 20 seconds of Ben at the start of two to go when Lee got a water handout, took a slip, and handed it off to me. I think this little bit of water and great generosity from Slonie gave me the needed hydration and inspiration, I dropped the bottle and started the attack to try and catch Ben.

Photo By: Mark Seymour 
      I put my head down and charged ahead, slowly gaining time on Ben in first and making a gap on Lee in third. A few turns after leaving the long pedal i had caught Ben, but he still had some left in him and held off my attack. When we made it to the small climb I noticed he did not have enough power left to hammer up it, but was better at the insuring sand pit. We crossed the line neck and neck going into the bell lap and the lead would switch a few time for the first half of the lap. Knowing from the previous lap if i could get to the climb first I would have a chance at winning. I took a lot of speed through the first sand trap far on the right as Ben went left, I downshifted and spun through the second on moving from the right to left just inching in front of the fast 14 year old. From there I push hard up the hill and even hard on the last 1/3 of the lap with out looking back, putting a 24 scound gap on Ben by the finish.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
      After winning at CSUMB I decided to spend the next day racing, and arranged to head up to Santa Rosa.

          Sunday morning, local fast guy Santa Cruz Bicycle's employee Rock Lobster elite racer, Scotty Chapin, and I headed up to Santa Rosa to for Santa Rosa Cup #2 at A Place to Play park the course there what about speed and cornering, check out the video of the start of the Masters Men's A race start from Hans Kellner  to see the course.
          In the Men's B race I  didn't have a call up, and lined up on the right side of row three. On the start the I went into the line about 15th before passing about 9 races on the first dirt section finding myself right around 7th at the back of the second group, with two guys already making a gap. I stayed with this "chase" group until the back stretch around a baseball field where I made a move to the front of the group hoping someone would grab my wheel as I took off to catch the lead group of two, no one did. Going into the second lap I was close to the lead group, caught and passed them on again on the first dirt section, again I was hoping at least one of the two guys  would stay on my wheel so we could work together to put a gap on the field, but alas neither did.

Photo By: Joe Fabis
From there I put a small gap on the field and maintained the gap as the two former leads got caught by the chase group. With about three to go Rob Pitchford, already the winner of the Masters Men's B 45+ race, emerged from the chase group and attempted to bridge the gap to no success. I was saving energy for the last two laps and going into the bell lap I dropped the hammer and put 20 more seconds into the gap before the end of the race.

          Next weekend is the opener for the long running local Surf City Cyclocross Series, at Aptos High, it should bring out some fast racers for what should be a hard hilly technical course

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

a Podium and a Flat

This weekend was the second double of the year first with CCCX #5 on Saturday at Toro Park in Salinas, and NCCX #2 the Lion of Fairfax.

Saturday at  Toro park was a mild but sunny day, the course started with a fast grass straight leading to slippery flat grass turns and 2 barriers followed by with a fast straight and semi-loose climb, fire road descent before going over two tree barriers with a u-turn between them before a quick pedal to a larger tree barrier, and a sprint before three more barriers and the start/finish.  
Photo By: Mark Seymour
I found myself with the number one call up, leading the Men's Open B CCCX series. and on the front row, with my co-workers Jory Stanwyck in the Open B, and Bo MacArthur in the singlespeed B race.

Photo By: Jeff Vander Stucken
Santa Cruz Bicycle's Bo MacArthur
Photo By: Jeff Vander Stucken
Santa Cruz Bicycle' Joey Stanwyck

I’ve been having some problems with my right shoe coming unclipped on start, but this day i had the opposite problem and could not clip in leading to a “bad” start for me filing in 3rd going into the grassy flat turns, following the front two until the straight where I went out ahead going into the climb. I decided to run the trees while some others were riding them.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Photo By: Jeff Vander Stucken
Rock Lobster's Alex Work
Crossing the line into the second lap Josh Pizzica picked up my wheel, and held it for the lap before passing me in the flat turns. I would only be able to hold his wheel for a lap before a few small mistakes let him take off, which would be the last i saw of him. 

Photo By: Mark Seymour
The rest of the race consisted of the winner of the singlespeed race Bryan Cheung swapping pulls around the track until i dropped him on the last lap, finishing 2nd/11.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
While Sunday another north bay scorching hot day for the Lion Of Fairfax at White Hill Middle School . The course was a mix of loose dirt, packed running track, pavement and roots. The laps started off with a short pavement section across a basketball court, a short rooty off-camber climb followed by a second even shorter, but faster off-camber climb. Next was a really steep loose run up, rode by a few of the elite men, a long section of flat turns through a dusty dirt field before descending a short gravel section, and a quick down up into a hard right turn, preceding a tight rooty section. All this was leading to the pavement, and weaving through the middle of the school before leading around the school’s baseball/grass field, with the course sole barrier on the far side before continuing around to the start finish.

Video By: Brian Mott

Again like Saturday I found myself with a front row callup, 7th allowing me to keep a good spot even missing the holeshot, for the second time in the weekend.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
On the first lap there was a bottleneck at the first off camber climb, check it out in the above video, which allowed a small gap to form for the leader, i was slotted in 5th behind Ryan Gallagher, and a few others and a Aaron Spindell, a racer for SuperPro on a mtb, going into the dirt before 2nd, and 3rd had a mishap going into a tight loose u-turn. 

From there I grabbed Ryan’s wheel and stayed on it as we caught and passed Aaron near the end of the lap. From there Ryan and myself started to put a gap on the field, until after taking the lead in the middle of the third lap

Photo By: Mark Seymour
I hit hard coming off the basketball court on the forth lap, and had my rear go flat on as I got off for the run up. I let Ryan know I had a flat as he passed me coming off the loose dirt before leading towards the middle of the school and later on the lap the neutral wheel pit. I continued to ride my flat getting passed by just 2 or three racers until the pits getting quite loose on some parts of the pavement before the neutral support had a wheel waiting as Ryan told them I was coming for a rear wheel. The swap took a fair amount of time, but I finished the lap in 8th, a far throw from the 1st I started it in. For the rest of the race I put my head down and pushed along slowly gain spots, grabbing a beer handout from the one Scott Lappe,near the end of the race.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
With two to go I waved off my support, the beautiful Samantha, at the start of the hard pack going around the grass field so i could put as much power down as possible to get close to Aaron in 5th place Going into the last lap i just pasted him and charged ahead finishing a short 7 seconds ahead of him in 5th just 31 seconds off the podium.

  Stay tuned for next week's CCCX #6 at CSUMB.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Hills and Heat NCCX #1 Vallejo

This week’s race was in Vallejo, at Dan Foley Park, across a small lake from Six Flags and was the opener for the Nor Cal CX (NCCX) series presented by Superpro Racing.Their race schedule is a bit different from the other Bay Area series, with the B Men finishing off the day of racing with a start time of 3:00pm. Starting late provides extra time to sleep in and for driving, but it doesn’t let me finish racing and relax watching everyone else race before driving home.

Photo By: Ornot Bikes
Men's Elite start
The race started with an abbreviated first lap, cutting off the first half of the course, instead starting on a uphill paved sprint leading to a grassy hill in the middle of the normal lap that had an interesting barrier, read tree, at the top.

Photo By: Ted Katai
Elite Men negotiation the tree barrier
Three ways to pass the tree,either dismount and go over the left side, dismount and go under the right side, or try and ride under the right side. Following the tree was a mound of chipped wood before an off camber winding descent before a short loose steep ridable up pitch. The end of the lap was a fast flat sprint immediately followed by tight off camber switchbacks on a small section of grass leading to the start/finish straight. After the short first lap the first half of the course was revealed with the race line going next to a line of sprinklers and a bunny hop over a tall curb into a loose decently long climb.

Photo By: Jeff Namba,
Rocklobster's Ian Stowe hopping the curb
A fast descent into  a series of sand pits and turns awaited ahead before two hope crushing run ups, the first being concrete stairs, followed shortly by the second, a choice of more stairs, the longer way, or the short but steep loose dirt runup.

Photo By: Jeff Namba
First of two run ups
Before getting to the grass climb from the start was a ride around a baseball diamond and a small off camper grass climb.

Photo By: Ted Ketai
As we lined up for the start at 3:00pm the temperature must of been around 95 degrees or higher with everyone waiting in shade for race promoted Murphy Mack to call open B men to the start line.

Knowing my legs and body were tired from a few days of hopping around Socal at Disneyland, and Magic Mountain,I lined up on the front row hoping to get the holeshot up the hill to the tree because my only chance at doing well was to get out in front and try to hold off as many people as possible.
Photo By: Mark Seymour
Chris Seymour trying to hold hold position

I made it up to the tree first tried to ride under it and got caught up, and had issues not being able to shifter well after it allowing the two racers who would finish first and second go by. For the rest of the short lap and first full lap I held onto third place, but by the hill after bunnyhopping the curb on the second full lap my body was hurting and over heated. For the rest of the race i suffered on this climb, and ended up getting off and walk up it each lap each lap having another racer pass me. I would end the race in 8th place not a bad finish in a field of 47 racers.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Also with the heat and my black race kit my body was overheating the whole race leading me to take unzip my jersey on the second lap, and taking it completely off by the third, finishing the race in my bib. Luckily i had a water handouts arounds the course with one after the second runup, and the other near start/finish along with a friend spraying me down with water. Without the help of these friends I could not of finished the race. Upon finishing the race my body was not functioning, and completely overheated to the point of having to sit down for about 15 minutes with ice  and cold water being pour on me to cool me down, most likely the beginnings of heat stroke.

Photo By: Mark Seymour
Next week is a double weekend with CCCX at Toro Park, and NCCX in Fairfax

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