Damn my quads are killing me...still.  First of all, great to see the Cuttin’ Cruiser back on the road...I only regret that I missed the Canadian Bacon this time around!  Jacob and I got there about 9:00 and immediately hopped on the bikes for a quick pre-ride of the course.  We made it all the way round to the pump track where the BMX boys were doing some final “grooming”.  I ask them what the technique is and one of the guys hops on his bike and gives the “pump” demo.  Looks easy enough on a 20” BMX bike anyway, and they did it pretty-much like Sven does it on the video.  Jacob and I practice a couple times, and I start to “get it” - its all about momentum and “rolling” with it...the only problem on a cx bike is the damn seat gets in the way, nevertheless, that part of the course was the least of my concerns, I knew the sandpit would be the real killer out there.  Got a decent warmup for a change, and seeing as the 3’s race was immediately after the 50+ masters, Chris was kind enough to help pin me up for a quick jersey swap in between.

Lined up toward the outside behind Wayne, as I figured he would be quick out of the gate.  It was a pretty impressive sprint for the whole group of riders, and I got a good dive into turn one, about 7-8 wheels back.  Started chipping away from the first couple turns, and I think I got up to Wayne (Verdigris) and Tom (Alberto’s) by the sand pit or somewhere near there.  I hung with them, but I knew Wayne was doggin’ it.  Got right on Tom’s wheel in the toilet bowl, and killed him on the rollers...he passed me back on the hairpin straight immediately after and gapped a hare, then the HAC tent cheering section pushed me a bit closer. We get on the straight and Tom gets a tow from Wayne while I am couple lengths back – Wayne lets Tom in front and I try to close, but cannot really move the gap till we get to the rollers again, and I’m killing them both in there.

Wayne turns it on and I close on Tom.  I pass him into the trees and keep him back till we head toward the sandpit, and he gaps me there – meanwhile, Wayne turns it up and drops us – Tom pursues and I try to hang.  Man, I love those bumps – and as much as I am faster than both of them, they are clearly stronger on the straight. I can tell we have good distance on 4th, so I try and “focus” on trying to get back in the fight, and I come into the first barrier too hot – have trouble unclipping and wham, trip right over it with the bike still attached to my right foot.  No real pain, bike looks OK and I get going again.  The front brake is dragging and I think its just the carrier, so I keep reaching down and fiddling with it on the back straight – its not working so I stop and fiddle, and now I am losing serious time.  Turns out the wheel moved, so loosen the skewer, it drops into place and just as I get going, I get passed by John...arrgh.  I put my head down and pass him back before the sandpit and try to get back in it...there is no way of catching Tom, so I work on gapping John to preserve 3rd.  Jacob and the whole HAC camp are cheering me on, but I am a bit disappointed in myself for my mistake, so I simply concentrate on working the proper line for the course and saving a bit of something for the 3’s race immediately following this one.  I get a lap or so to actually enjoy the course...the twisties over by the cuttin’ crew offered both changing camber and grip – nice - The sweeper leading to the barrier and sand creek crossing – brilliant...the soft, “suck-the-life-out” back straight keeps you honest, and the crescent shaped sand pit was rideable by many – but not by me. But the beauty in the course was from the hairpin corner to the off-camber hill down into the toilet bowl – back up the hill and down into the pump track - I looked forward to it EVERY lap!  Came across the line with a cheer from Dan for another 3rd (of 25), phew!  Gave the congrats to Wayne, Tom and John, then headed back to the car to strip-down a bit and change my jersey for the 3’s.

Round two:

Got to the line a bit late, so not a good slot, but I got a killer start up the outside, slipped through the traffic jams nicely and slotted-in near Dave, Adrian and Chris.  I felt fresher than I thought and we were picking our way pretty nicely.  I passed Adrian at the barrier and complemented him on his legs, then he blew my doors off on the back straight!  We all got in to a nice groove and Dave and I were having a good little battle a few spots behind Chris.  Once again, I was slayin’ em’ on the pumps and was surprised that there wasn’t more “drama” there.  This was the only spot I had an edge on Dave...he was stronger where it counted, and we were pretty even on the twisties.  We hung it out there pretty well, and I think we were actually closing a bit on Chris, and I think he knew it, as he stepped it up and increased the gap.  We caught up to Flatlandia Dave, who was feeling the effects of the back-to-back racing idea, and we clipped a few more off till I started running out of leg...the pre bell lap through the barriers really hurt, so I just kept yelling at Dave to hunt Chris down.  I still felt good through the toilet bowl-to-pump track section, but the dismounts were taking their toll and three of the guys we passed early-on, got me back on the bell lap, as did a rider that got strong at the end...I just hung in there hoping I was in the points – which I was, 29th out of 44, which was pretty satisfying for my first run as a “3”.  I went over to the line to give Jacob, Julie and Erica some pre-race encouragement and congratulate Chris and Dave on a strong ride.  Beer time!   Cheered-on my boy, the girls, Josh, Gavin, Pip, Edwin, and Matt for their race and I sure hope Josh feels better after that hard hit to the shoulder, Cheers to Jeff Provisor, Main Street Cycles and North Branch Cycling for an awesome course and a great day of racing.

 -Al Thom