Matt Donahue

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

'Cross Season

As usual I have posted far fewer blogs on the 'cross season than I originally hoped. It's been a great first season though.

At most of the races, I was accompanied by Evan and Judd. Judd and I made our way up through the C's over the season. Evan, in a whole different league, beat up the Bs for the better part of the season.

Each race had its own highlights, but things really started getting interesting beginning with the Lower Allen Township MAC race up in PA. This was where things started coming together for me.

Lower Allen MAC

I spent the night before that race making dinner with my buddy Dozer. My wife and I have finally finished renovation (after 8 months of dirty construction) our kitchen and dining room, so any chance I get to stay home and eat, I do. So Dozer came over we made bean and rice burritos. He specializes in cocktails and made many vodka martinis. So many that I forgot how many. At around 10:45 I realized that I had not prepared anything for PA race. I was also thoroughly souzed. Dozer left and I headed to the basement to mount a new tubular/clincher Tufo tire to my bike, it had to be done as the tire on there was nearly bald. Strangely, this annoyingly hard task was made significantly easier by being wasted. I mainly remember just muscling that tire onto the rim, pumping it up, then smashing it with my fist to get the bead to connect to the rim. Whatever works I guess. I started laying out the water bottles and clothes for the next morning's 7 AM departure but got quickly confused and decided to head to bed. Nice way to prepare for a race.

There was doubt In my head when the alarm went off as to whether I would make it to Evan's for the rendezvous by 7. But somehow I managed to cram all the necessary items into the car and get out the door in time to make the 15 minute trip. Judd drove the longer 2 hour trip up to Lower Allen. We stopped at a rest stop and visited the stalls, that was number three for me, all before 9 am. I wasn't feeling 'bad' just not great. Then we hit the rolling hills of PA and nausea started settling in. Bad news. I began the mental game of getting mad at myself for drinking too much the night before, while focusing on recovery by looking out the window and not letting myself descend into hangover gloom.

We arrived at the venue with enough time for two laps around the course. During the second warm-up lap I wiped out solidly on an off-camber turn and began wondering if racing was a good idea. But I began feeling a little better in the stomach.

Lining up behind the 35+ B men the gun went off to start their race (first time hearing a starting gun for me, cool but slightly shocking given my state). Then 30 seconds later the C men were off. Right away I was 15 places down, that's what you get for starting two rows back. The prologue was a big straight-away which quickly brought us into the slower ranks of the 35+ field. I quickly lost track of who was in my field and what the C-class number series was. In hind sight it would have been smart to have known which numbers I was competing with given the giant mish mash of classes on the course, but I was focusing on more essential things like getting my stomach settled.

Evan cheered me from the sidelines, shouting the normal advice, "Come on Matt, settle in". Which despite its seemingly obvious simplicity, is advice that does help as a reminder to settle into a fast but sustainable rhythm. The course was twisty, had some quick ups and downs that I did not have to dismount for. I was making my way forward through riders. I didn't know whether these riders were C class? 35+?, but guessed by some cheering from the sidelines that one rider, Rob, just ahead of me, was in my class and riding well. We traded places for a few laps but I was able to power away from him in a straight flat section toward that back of the course. I started wondering how much longer we had to go. My watch said 32 minutes or so. Definitely another lap to go.

Most of the information I gleaned from the announcer during the race was how popular the sausage booth was at this venue. The announcer kept talking about it but didn't seem that knowledgeable about how many laps were left. Maybe he was confused by the mixed groups on the course, or maybe the Cs just don't warrant in depth commentary.

Suddenly the race was over. I never saw the lap counter, nor heard the last lap bell. My watch said 37 minutes. I followed a 35+ guy off of the course and was wondering, did I win? I had sudden fears that I had left the course too early, but, didn't think that was possible. However, there were still people on the course. I felt good, wiped, but not sick and not much back pain, which had been a factor in earlier races. My face was salty, no doubt from the copious martini consumption the night before (lots of olive juice in those suckers).

I cooled down, and Judd joined me. He was upset with his performance, but mostly upset about the same things I was confused by: lap count, no obvious end to the race. I figured I had done well in this race, but was not sure how well, certainly top 5. I ended up in second. My best showing for the season.

Evan's race soon started and Judd and cheered. He gradually made his way up into a battle for second place. 'Cross is exciting to watch, especially when races get close. I did my share of yelling out "settle in".


  • matt

    great racing
    great season

    have fun at the Nationals

    and forget SETTLING IN




    By Blogger gwadzilla, at 4:09 PM  

  • Dozer - now there's a name i haven't seen in a while. If you're reading this: Howdy from Mass! Hope you're well.


    By Blogger JB, at 5:36 PM  

  • when the cross season is done, and you want a winter epic, come on up to Michaux.

    congrats on a nice season!


    By Blogger camps, at 12:30 PM  

  • Thanks Camps- I would love to ride the Michaux terrain in the winter.

    By Blogger Matt Donahue, at 9:21 AM  

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