Sunday, September 20, 2009
Hermann Cross Under the Lights
"Oh my!" Said the farmers wife. "What are those young boys doing with dollar bills hanging out of their pants?"
I am sure she was reffering to the steps coming up from the field in the 1's and 2's at the City Park in Hermann, a small farm community just west of St. Louis along the Missouri River. It was quite the spectacle, the elite cyclocross riders reaching the top of a 30 step platform, a golden shower of Pabst Blue Ribbon tossed affectionately on the riders passing. Most often by wig wearing, poll dancing, mosh pitting, hecklers who, appropriately so, grunted it out in the races prior. It was loud and the energy was turned up to 10. The band was playing another song by Pat Benatar or something, and another, and another.
Down on the parking lot there was another grouping of Bigshark and Mesa folks doing hand ups to the occasional errant rider needing an immediate carbohydrate injection. There were most certainly takers towards the end of the race, as Josh and Nate of Bigshark pretty well tried their best to keep Shad Smith of Trade Wind and Joseph Schmalz of KCCX of their asses. In the end it was Smith who got the jump after sitting in most of the night on Buttheads wheel in the later laps. Schmalz stayed on his wheel on the pavement, leaving Butthead back in a third place finish. It was a very good tactical race for the most part and early in the season, I might add. Smith is the 2008 State Champion. It will be interesting seeing what plays out this season in the 1's and 2's.
The 3's has some very fast riders. It was good to see Justin Bowen, Ghissalo, (Dirt Crit B Race Winner) and Drew Black, Mesa, get top tens. Zack Brace and Matt James not far behind, look for them to get fit and stay up front as well. I was glad Russ Murphy did the 3's, he looked strong and my guess is that he will be, like the other masters racers, looking to do something big in the state championships. I hope to mix it up with him a bit this year, always a fierce comptetitor and one of the most experienced tactical racers around. Klages looks strong, lean and mean too. I was hoping to get some of that later as well. My first cyclocross race was with Jim Klages, Jim Sullivan, John Mcraven, Rich Pierce and a bunch of other at Queeny Park in 2001.
The 4's, well, Boz, (Craig Basler, um Mesa) got the hole shot and premier registration again leaving me and the Bigshark boys to fend for ourselves. We had around 40 racers in the field so it was a good crowd. I was lamenting to Boz last night that we had not even begun the steps when he was already on the bike and going down the hill. Ain't nothing like a bind up on the first turn. Craig's gone from the Pulpit to the Moshpit by leaving the ICCC and joining Mesa Cycles team this year. And I am sure he will uphold their standards for bad ass racing. I will say this again. The boy is down right powerful and has done his work, finishing top ten this week and a podium last week. Nice work Boz.
Struckman had it all worked out as to how we would keep things under control but that shiat got walked on when Buddy blew the whistle. Besides muscling to the front together, there was little I could do to control the front. Cross requires a tempering of your effort. If you go anarobic, you have to slow. So ambling at a high level is key. Once the pace slows a bit, you can attack and make progress, but you never want to go completely anarobic near the start.
Mike Briner, Bigshark, got caught up in the tape and clipped my rear wheel on the second lap going down hard, only to weave through again for a top ten finish. The Hub guys dominated again, taking home Stone Hill bottles of wine given out as trophies. Boz had another strikingly good race getting edged out a bit by Matt Struckman, Bigshark. Matt's endurance fitness has paid huge dividends after a visit to Leadville this year and he is tough, looking to see him creep further in to the top ten and likely further. Karl King, Mesa, also showed up again, weaving his way through to 5th place and an exciting finish that left rumors flying that somebody got punched at the finish. Merely an arm check on the sprint, Karl looks to be in good form for the Bubba series.
I was quite comfortable this week, taking a 12th place and winning my sprint against Ryan Heine, Hub. Ryan, myself and Benji Bockting, CBC, set a decent pace chasing down the top ten and were making progress when Benji crashed on the twists on the second to last lap. Ryan was showing signs of slowing so on the pavement towards the finish, I jumped on and nailed it at the end. I was happy with the finish, but prefer a longer race to get through the others. I think this will be to my advantage in the B's this year, the longer races. I look to challenge Boz and the others as the fitness continues to come.
It was a great couple races. Thanks to Jeff Yielding for embracing the active living culture and promoting two very well run events in his hometown. It could not have been a better way to prepare for the Bubba Memorial Cyclocross Series. He ain't dead yet...