Nowak Report: CCC #6 - mud, Mud, MUD!!!

This past weekend was the 6th of 10 races in the ChiCrossCup series. The best part was that the ABD race was behind me now, and all the stress and effort to put on another successful ABD race had left. I could now focus on my race and put forth 100% effort in the week leading up to the Sunday effort.

The week leading up to St. Charles was rainy and cold. Normally I would be disappointed because that would mean either no riding or spending time in the basement watching videos of Sporza Superprestige and World Cup races (and picking up some Flemish!!!). However, knowing the course in St. Charles pretty well, a smile came to my face because I knew that it would be sloppy in sections.

Lately I have been looking into getting another nice set of wheels that I could put on my pit bike and/or allow me to run different tires for different conditions, so I contacted Rob Curtis (psimet.com) who allows you to rent wheels for a race to try them out. For $35 I figured I would give it a shot and got to St. Charles early. The wheels he has are really pretty nice (50mm carbon rims, DT spokes, and sealed hubs) and the price is reasonable ($699). The wheels are setup with nice tires (Challenge Grifos), but in the slop that we raced in, these were probably not the right tire. However, I was committed to using them so I race with them.

WIth it being the day after Halloween, there were many there in costumes getting callups. After the top 10 there were another 3 or 4 callups for costumes and then the masses (which included me). I ended in the third row, and it was tight. The start was chaotic and I was sitting in about 20th or so once the course opened up and we started the wet/greasy/muddy climb thru the woods. I slowly picked people off and once we got out of the woods, gave a good effort to move into about 10th. The next sections were all open area that were grass sections and included off-camber turns. In the first off-camber turn, I could feel the rear wheels loose a bit of grip and right in front of me someone went down. I was able to get by, and keep going. Next was a quick downhill into a 180 degree turn that was just pure mud. Then up the hill where it was almost impossible to ride. I quickly shouldered my bike and ended up passing 3 guys as they tried to ride up the hill. Then back down, and into a single track section to some more off camber, onto a gravel path, then to the best part of the course. MUD that you ran thru and rode thru. I looked up as at this time and I could see the leader and then counting backwards I was in 7th and had a gap on the 8th-11th place guys.

Going into the second lap, I continued to maintain my place, until the second off-camber section where I was going too fast and lost traction on the rear wheel, and went down. It was quite an ugly crash, and took time to get myself righted only to find that my chain dropped. Now I go from 7th to 12th. I kept pushing, but it didn’t seem like anyone was coming back to me. Finally I caught the guy in 11th and we ended riding the rest of the race together, attacking, recover, push, battle. I knew that it would come down to the last lap if I was going to get 11th, so I put in a dig on the first hill and gapped him over the barriers. He came back on the next section and took the front. We then went back and forth up the run-up and made our way to the mud section. It was at this point that I was able to cleanly ride this while he bobbled a bit and then I just sprinted to the finish to end 11th. Overall a good race, but a bit frustrating in that I know I can do better.

I then jumped into the 30+ race (after changing clothes, shoes, and bikes) and worked my way through that to finish strongly. In addition, there was quite a nice turnout of other ABD’ers: Ben Demong, James Sneddon, Gina Kenny, Sue S., Jessie, and a few others who I don’t know(sorry!!!). Also nice to see Terry and Jenny Cerwin and hearing their support!

Overall for the Team Standings, we are sitting pretty strong in 9th. Just shows that with the few riders we have doing ‘cross there is definitely some quality. I still have a goal of being in the top 10 by the end of the year in the 40+ class. It may be a bit difficult, but I’m going to keep trying.

This weekend is the Northbrook race which was a big DNF for me last year due to a broken chain. I am hoping for redemption!

Hope to see more out there again this weekend.

Thanks again for reading,

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