Home Forums Race 2017 CX O-Cup #3 Hardwood Cross Race Report

This topic contains 2 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Mark W 2 months ago.

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  • #40446

    Chris_A
    Participant

    As one of the people who were a little shaken up by the last O-cup at Albian Hills (both literally and figuratively) I was glad to hear that Hardwood was going to be more of a smooth flowing race. Not wanting to be disappointed with my result again I decided drive up to Barrie and stay the night, pre riding the course on Saturday to practice in an unfamiliar area. After an hour and a half messing around on the course I decided to call it quits being absolutely covered in sand from crashing a few times on pretty much every corner there.

    The weather for the race was pretty much perfect. A little overcast but still nice and warm. Probably because of Thanksgiving commitments there were much fewer riders this week (only 70 compared to 120) Not wanting to get caught up in a bottleneck again this week I lined up really early… Like 20 minutes before the start, first one to be standing there with my bike early. People started to filter in and after the call ups I still ended up in the second row.

    After the sprint I found myself in the top 15 with everything nice and open. I’m able to pick the lines I want and can even gain a few positions in the first 3 laps. The practice seems to have paid off as the corners don’t seem to be causing me to loose time and I manage to stay upright the whole race. Matthew Bannon ends up passing me on the third lap while I as well as most other people were walking one fairly steep run-up. Near the end of lap 4 I can feel myself getting weak and can see Vance and Robert right behind me. Vance ends up passing halfway through lap 5 but I don’t see Robert until he comes sliding into my back wheel with about a quarter lap to go on a particularly sandy rutted out corner. No harm to the bike or me so it’s all good and I can finish the race in what ends up being 4th place in E4.

    Normally being 12 seconds from the podium would really bother me but with just how nice of a day it was and how nervous I was with riding sandy corners I couldn’t be happier with the result.

    WCC owned the E4 race with 5 racers in the top 10. Robert Daniells 5th, Stephen Lake 6th, Mark Weymouth 8th and Andrew Lambert 9th. Matthew Bannon finished 5th in M3 and Vance Lai was 7th.

    After this Sunday I’m looking forward to getting up to Barrie again next weekend for O-cup #4 Baseball Cross. Hopefully we get a nice large group out and have some strong results again.

    #40447

    RobD
    Participant

    Thanks Chris!

    So last year I was sick and absolutely hated this course due to the sand and its technical course, vowing to never return. Thankfully I have a short memory and after last week knew I had to show.

    Starting out at 6 am is way to early and I’m hoping to grab a few more upgrade points just for the later start time. I get to Barrie and go to check my phone for directions and then realise that its at home. Having been once before I have a vague idea of how to get there and after missing the sign off hwy 11 and end up driving around in a few circles on country roads. Normally I would be late and could follow the procession of bikes on cars, but for once I’m early and I have to hope I can find my way. Somehow, I get there at 8 and register allowing time for 2 warmup laps.

    The course is different to last year but similar enough that it doesn’t feel too different. I line up early, as I’m on the boarder of getting called up and don’t want to be bogged down. I’m called up in what felt like a random draw as names from the wrong list were called, eventually a few of us realise as we know a couple of the names called and correct the officials. I get called up but end up on the second row due to the size of the start line and get a terrible start. The start is up hill with a 180 into a fast section that you want to choose your line, you should be on the right but I’m in the left gutter as I let Vance know not to follow me. The first half of the lap is a rush and few less able technical riders make some corners messy. Halfway through the lap after a long climb there is a nasty run up. I catch Vance at this point and am moving up to the front of the field, and then there is a white knuckle sandy descent where you just let the bike bounce hope to come out upright. I managed this but notice that my front wheel has come loose (never have I been more grateful for lawyer tabs). I stop adjust the front quick release, loosing 30 seconds and around 8 places.

    At this point I know a good finish will be difficult and that there’s not much to lose as I’m bogged down in the field and way of the front guys. I start to push the corners and really take risky lines as I try to pass riders. It takes me a whole lap to get clear of those I was in front of originally and now there is a clear break in the field. Lap 3 consisted of me gradually closing the gap on Matt B, Vance and Chris. I finally catch Chris and Vance on the run up (walk up?) on lap 4 and I’m feeling good. I can see that a podium might be a possibility and keep pushing on, only to go down a few corners later as my front wheel washes out in the sand. I’m upside down attached to my bike as Vance and Chris come past me. At this point I figure that I won’t see them again and Chris probably wishes he didn’t see me.

    I keep a cool head into lap 5 run the first pit for the second lap in a row (it was definitely faster for me to run). This takes a 3rd of the gap between me and the guys in front and gives me some hope. I push on the long straight uphill into the run up and catch up to the rear of Vance and Chris with one more rider. At this point I’m fully gassed and trying to make sensible line choices, this quickly goes wrong as I take a different line in one corner and then into the next I lock up the wheels as I slide in the sand, T-boning Chris, much to his annoyance (and mine). I had an ethics debate in practice about destroying someone’s derailleur in a race the day before, we decided it was fair game just not in practice and not on team mates, thankfully it was a non- drive side hit! At this point this allows the other E4 rider and Vance to get away, I felt like I should let Chris finish in front of me, but in reality, I had no choice in the matter.

    This was a fun race, the course is much more like those we see on TV from Europe. The feeling of being out of control but knowing the worst that will happen is that you will land in a sandpit is nice. Looking forward to the next one, where at lest two of us in E4 should be called up.

    I big thanks to Mark and Kevin that have really pushed on with practice this year its really helping all of us. There were over 70 starters at the weekend and 7 WCC members in the top 19.

    #40467

    Mark W
    Participant

    Great reports guys. You both had good performances on a tricky course.

    My race was one of lessons. You never stop learning in cross. Here’s a quick highlight reel put together by one of the guys in E4. If you watch it, you’ll see me directly in front of him going into a berm early on. I go in too fast, was worried about clipping Stephen’s wheel, and I have to unclip the outside foot, brake and push off. Only lost a spot which wasn’t too bad.

    Lesson #1, don’t rush it the first lap. If I make any technical mistakes it’s usually the first half of the first lap. I tend to get a little too eager, and I need to keep my cool and mentally relax.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I3_-U5AHdnI

    Lesson #2, get in front of others if you’re better than them at a section of the course. I should have laid down a harder effort on the false flat and following horrendous run-up to get past more people. I got stuck behind others and wasn’t able to get time in the one place I usually can, the turns. This leads us into….

    Lesson #3. Leave enough space between you and the rider ahead, so when they make a mistake you can capitalise on it. I didn’t do this through some of the sandy sections. I wouldn’t expect people to come to a stop/put a foot down in certain spots….but I was surprised, oh yes. I ran into two people trying to manoeuvre around then. I purposely took different lines at times expecting others to mess things up. They eventually would, but a couple times it was right after the turn when I though they were drifting wide and I’d take the inside. Then they just stopped. Bam. Into their back wheel I go.

    I have a good cut/bruise on the upper part of my right leg just below the hip. I think I smashed my leg into my stem in one of those collisions. For the past several days I’ve felt lesson #3 with every step I take.

    Aside from those mistakes I had a fun race. I love this course. Sandy corners, gradual climbs, didn’t love the steep run-up (Who did? No one, that’s who), challenging descents, and a good mixture of corners.

    My start and first lap were fine other than the one early mistake I mentioned above. The end of lap 2, in the sand, through lap 3 is where I ran into trouble navigating others, sometimes literally. I feel as though I could ride those laps 30 seconds faster without the moving obstacles. At the end of lap 4 I finally got around a handful of people and was just chasing down a couple M3 riders and one E4. I got around the masters early on in some corners and closed the gap to the other E4, a Lantern Rouge racer nonetheless. He was stronger on the flat, but I would close the small gaps through turns. I got a good draft off him up the arching climb/false flat leading into the steep-run up. Following this it’s just the sandy section and a short sprint to the line. He was pretty good through the sand, and we were running out of space to the end. The last main obstacle was the uphill sandy bike/run.

    I rode this section every time in warm-up, but was always stuck behind someone in the race. The right side of it is packed down and ride-able. He’s just ahead, in my head I’m preparing to gun it up the hill. I start to speed up and he, well, he dismounts right at the bottom. Doesn’t even attempt to coast up an inch of the hill. I wasn’t expecting this at all. Lesson #3 for the final time. I am forced to make a quick awkward dismount and loose a couple meters. The two masters following us have enough space to go left and put in a quick run up the sandy hill, and just ahead of me at the top. They remount in front of me and I’m stuck behind them though the last couple turns. I lost out on three places overall and one spot in E4 thanks to that screw up.

    Live and learn. This coming weekend is less technical. For the parts that are you can bet that I’ll make the effort and try to be ahead of others.

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