Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Onto World Championships!

Thanks for all the great comments in my previous posts. I guess all you have to do is have an awful start to make a really exciting race report.

Kevin and I and Roger have decided to go to Mol, Belgium for the Master's Cyclocross World Championships. The race is January 23rd, 2010. We'll go 1 week early and do a couple "local" races. One in Belgium and another in The Netherlands. Then the following weekend is the Worlds. We should be well acclimated by then and we'll also be able to ride some laps on the Worlds course.

I'll do my best to keep you posted, JB

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dream Come True!!!

I literally dreampt about this. A lot! It's crazy how much emphasis and importance we crossers put on Natz. I never get nervous too much before big races, but at Natz it's a whole different thing. I guess since I took the whole week off from work, had my bikes driven across the country, flew 6500 miles round trip, rented a mini van, and booked a hotel, it should feel a little different. But I felt the same way in 2005 when the race was about an hour from my house. It's just that it's the best jersey you could ever win. I think it's because Cross is so spectator friendly, that wearing that jersey is better than the road jersey because more people show up to watch and cheer at cross races.

If you're still not doing any Cross, what are you thinking? Come out and give it a go, and you'll probably be hooked.

Anyway, let me start by saying that USAC gave me the flick. I finished 4th at Natz last year, and the top 8 from last year get the call ups. Unless you happen to move up an age group. Then you're just some other schmuck like the rest of the 150 riders in the race. (The 40-44 group had 190....more on that in a bit). The online registration was a classic West Coast fast one. They didn't announce the registration opening until the last minute and even then it was on the eve of a very big race in Providence.....and oh ya, they opened it up at midnight. Plus the site crashed. USAC did NOTHING to insure this process would be fair and practical. So even though I was on the podium at Natz last year, I was buried on the 3rd row this year. You may not think thats bad, but it's basicly a prison sentence and it makes winning an extreme long shot.

The temps had been below zero for the majority of the time we'd been there, but in the early afternoon the sun was out and it warmed into the high 30s. Some spots got pretty moist for a while, but with my race at 3:30 the sun was low and behind the mountains and trees. The temperature dropped fast and the course turned to slip and slide, boiler plate. Catastrophic crashes could happen on 100% of the course.

The gun sounded and we charged up the narrow pavement start chute. It was maybe 150 yards to turn one which was an icy plywood ramp over a curb into a 180. The front row guys got around OK and them some "online holeshot" specialist stacked it in the turn and the pileup ensued. I came to a stop, got off my bike and stood there waiting for people to get up and get going. The leaders were flying away on 3 long straight aways. I finally got through and figured there was no chance in hell of fulfilling my goal now.

Still I wasn't gonna go all this way and not try with everything I had. I later learned I was in 45th place or so at that point. I started passing when I could, but everyone was trying to do the same thing and I lost places in some spots. Everyone had beer muscles. I bumped with one guy and he was solid. I could tell he was a good rider based on how firm he was when we bumped. I looked over when I could, it was Dale Knapp. I made some more passes and took some sweet lines that I had dialed in during my 2 warm up rides. When I went by the pit someone yelled "38th place Jonny GET UP THERE". Another power section and I picked off a few more. Then we crossed the road and went onto the even more technical side of the course. I got hung up in traffic a lot and could see James Coates off the front and all alone with no one in his way. I got through a couple more and up to a hill that was a sheet of ice on the 90 degree corner leading into it. The hill wasn't too bad if you got through the icy approach, but I had to drop to the little ring to get up it since I was basicly starting from a stand still. I got 3/4 of the way up and ran into a guy that just came off his bike. CRAP!!!

I got going through the start finish, and most of the mayhem was behind me since guys were cracking now. Still I was in about 25th. I passed a big group in the next straight away and a couple more here and there. I was moving now, but still way back. I saw that Coates was still gone and Mark Noble was in 2nd also alone. These were the 2 guys I considered my strongest competition before the race. Both have won Cross Natz twice before and Noble is a former British Track Cycling Olympian. I felt awesome and was comfortable enough on the icy course to put down big power, that I just happen to have since my training has been spot on for the approach to Natz this year. Across the road someone yelled "12th Jonny GO GO GO" one more before the crazy downhill dropoff righthander, another just before the u-turn into the run up on the stairs, (I dove hard into the inside line, braked hard and moved him over), another on the stairs, and 1 more before the remount, (I just ran farther than him and passed him on foot then jumped on) Now there were only guys here and there in front of me, but one of them slid out on the icy off camber little rise up to the icy flat driveway, before the icy run/ride up. I couldn't gain any spots there because we just had to go so slowly and will our bikes around the corners.

I did get a clean run at the hill this time and rode it no problem. Onto the start finish pavement sections I had Fergy in my sights. He started on the front row. Boy that would have been nice! I got him just before the pit and Fergy being the good friend he is gave me some encouragement after I passed. Sammy was just ahead with another guy on his wheel. I went very hard to get around them as they were approaching an icy right hander under and around a tree. I let Sammy know it was me as we had talked about so he wouldn't try to block me out. I went into the corner way too hot and hit the patch of ice and drifted BIG TIME. I made it over the ice and onto some dirt with a wild foot out and kept it upright and then clipped in and charged again. A couple of icy u-turns later there was a straigt away and at the end of it another 180. I saw Noble going toward me and only a few more guys between us. I ate them up before the pit and was on Noble's wheel in 3rd place. I attacked by him and across the road. I figured it was gonna take a while to gain on Coats, but as I looked ahead, he was right in front of me getting off the ground. He had crashed in that crazy downhill right hander. It was a very tricky spot. He was able to get up and go, but I was on him going up the stairs. He didn't run fast enough for my liking up the steps and I ended up running into him. I passed him in the remount area and went into the lead....Holy Shit!

OK this is my game now I thought. "See if you can stay with me Mr." I drilled it for the next 2 laps riding everything but the steps and barriers. Lapped riders were everywhere and very much affecting our ability to actually race. I'm so pissed that USAC would rather make more $ in entry fees rather than have championship racing at the championships. I was stretching him out of every corner and he was able to scrap back on over and over. This guy is an awesome bike rider! Finally the dreaded lapper crashed in front of me on that icy rise up to the driveway and I had nowhere to go. I T-boned his bike and my front wheel got tangled in his pedal. Coates went by me there, but I got his wheel. We rode the hill OK, but it was getting much worse at the bottom (at the beginning of the climb) and I almost slid out.

We got 2 to go and nobody else was close to us. He was riding way too slow for my liking, but the way to beat him was gonna be to pass him with half a lap to go and hurt him, get him so gassed that all he do is follow....if that. I sat tight on his wheel and plotted my spot to go for the win. He seemed glad that I wasn't attacking him any more, although I'm not sure I shouldn't have. But once I make a plan, I usually decide thats my best chance to win and I stuck with my decision. I thought to myself "This is what Marky Mac would do, so it should be a decent plan". I also felt very confident in my sprint, because I was way stronger than him in the power sections.

I decided my spot was gonna be just after the pit, on the power grade before we cross onto the more technical side, on the last lap. That lap (the 2nd to last) was pretty uneventful most of the way, but the crowd was absolutely MASSIVE. The sun was pretty much down now and with my sunglasses on I actually remember thinking "it's getting dark". The beer tent, which we went right by and did the barriers with the smell of beer pouring off the fans, was absolutely deafening. Over the icy rise up clean, across the skating rink driveway clean, around the corner I followed Coats into the run/ride up. I bobbled it at the bottom and had to get off. CRAP CRAP CRAP!!!!! He rode it and everyone went nuts for him, he saw the gap and absolutely went for broke. I was gapped off bad! Through the start finish I was about 10 seconds back as the bell rang. I was surprisingly calm and I drilled it the hardest I could in the power sections gaining all the way, and also telling myself that a mistake now would be the end of my chances. I had this side of the course dialed in though, and on the 180 we looked right at each other. I was very close again, but still one section behind. I closed with every pedal stroke and found myself on his wheel at the corner before the pits. I took a brief rest and went around the left hander onto "my section" I actually left a small gap so when I went I could get a better run on him. In an instant I bolted, knowing that I was back in control and had a 10 meter gap. He closed it on the corners after the road crossing, but I knew he would. I had him right where I wanted him.....under pressure. I screamed at the lappers and they moved in time. Up the stairs, over the barriers and over the icy rise up, cleanly, over the icy driveway clean, but slow and careful. He was right on me. I tried to shift into the little ring but my finger was frozen and I couldn't feel the shifter doing anything. I fumbled with it as I rolled toward the icy approach to the run/ride up. It shifted just in time, but I was distracted and didn't find my line. I bobbled again. I didn't allow myself to panic and I knew I was in the better spot on the front. I hopped off my bike as fast as I could, but it was unplanned, so it was a true scramble. I went to run when I felt him run into me, and I could hear the fans all go "Oh!" I ran up there for all I was worth and remounted. Now I was going downhill to the last two paved sections, BUT my bike was in the little ring and my hand was frozen and worthless. I shifted the back first just to get a bigger gear, then I fought with the front, trying to get 'er into the big ring with my useless hand. The second it took felt like an eternity and I stole a look back just as I saw the chain climb up into the business gear.

He was right there and I just turned forward and drilled it. I got another gear and had the lead going into the last 90 degree right hander but was going faster than I had gone through the corner yet. I committed and had to protect the inside line. I made it with room to spare and just poured it on all the way through the line. There was no way in hell I was gonna look back again or celebrate. I could feel I had it, but wasn't gonna risk it. I could put my arms up on the podium.

I did it! My dream was realized, even though I almost screwed it up. Here I am back at the hotel with my race kit still on, and an extra jersey to boot. I didn't mean to close my eyes, but it sort of sums up the contentment I felt at that moment.

To make it an even sweeter weekend, Kevin went out the next day and made it a double for the "Dynamic Corner Cycle Duo".
Kev made easy work of it compared to me and got the holeshot and won going away, after a close 1st lap, by well over 30 seconds or so. It may not be as exciting to watch, but I would have loved to have bored everyone in my race. It just wasn't meant to be. But hey, they pretty much HAVE to give me a call up next year so we'll see what happens.

Sammy also finished up a fine 6th, just off the podium, matching his son Nate's performance earlier.

Teammate David Rath (2 time Natz Champ) stood on the podium in the 60+ category with a fine 4th. A much better way to spend a weekend in December than in a halo with a broken neck. Nice job David!

Also a big congratulations to Paul Curley for winning his 875th National Title. Very inspiring Paul!!!

Thanks for all the previous comments, and for reading. JB

Monday, December 7, 2009

Got It!

Well it seems that I have at least 4 readers, so I'll keep you all posted on the finale of the New England Verge Cyclocross Series.

As you know, this season has been a knock down, drag out street brawl in the 35+ category with the jersey jumping from back to back to back all year.

Lined up in the brisk wind at Goddard Park in RI, for the 14th and final race of the series, Roger and I were separated by 5 measly points and Kevin wasn't far behind either, but it would have taken both of us finishing out of the points or way down for him to win it. It was most likely gonna be a battle for the series between Roger and me. With the point difference between 1st and 2nd in any race being 10 points it was winner take all, or whoever finished in front of the other. Kinda like when we were kids playnig basketball in the driveway and somebody's mom said "time for dinner". We usually said "next point wins".

And so it point wins.

After our instructions and a hilarious plea for all competitors to keep one foot on the ground til the whistle blew (not mentioning any names) due to a certain "flyer" on Saturday. We were off.

I got my pedal pretty clean and the sprint was a lot less hectic and dangerous than the previous day's. I followed Roger onto the sand and up the steep run. I felt good so I went to the front through the barriers and pressed the 1st lap. Coming into the wet roots befor the pit I dumped it on my left side, Rog got around OK and I was up in an instant. My chain had come off, but I saw that before I remounted and knew I had to pedal it back on. It jumped right on, so I didn't enter the pit which was right there. I didn't lose the wheel and I followed Roger for a full lap. Marky Mac had connected and Kev was just about on now too. Roger peeled off and I went through and drilled it. I stayed there for the next 3 laps on the front with Mark sticking on me like velcro and Kevin in 3rd looking comfortable. Roger slotted in, in 4th.

The good news for me was that Roger didn't look his best and was getting gapped off on lots of turn exits. All I needed was a shred of positive feedback to motivate me more and that was it. I started crushing certain power sections after technical corners, and after he clawed back several times, I finally got him off a little more and he wasn't reconnecting at all. I was pretty pinned, but adrenaline is a beautiful thing if you can control it.

The gap continued to grow and we got the bell. I had some serious support out there in terms of screaming, lunatic, New England Cyclocross fans (Thanks Team BOB and others). The gap was there and I just had to seal the deal with my final lap in New England for 2009. So of course I caught my foot on the 2nd barrier and crashed forward. I scrambled up in a jiff and got back on......LOSER! The only damage done was losing one spot to Mark. He went real slow through the next little section and I passed him as we went by the pits for the 2nd to last time. He sort of challenged my surge, and as we went around the next corner I said "I don't care about winning the race today". What I meant was that I just wanted to be on the front driving it for another half lap or so to guarentee my series win. Then he could go for the win. I wasn't gonna risk nationals by trying to fight Marky Mac in the last few corners if I didn't have to. I think we know how that would have turned out anyway. Kev was just as happy as I was so he didn't try his hardest to beat him either. I literally sat up with a few short sections left to go and crossed the line alone in 3rd with 5 fingers on one hand and one on the other raised, to signal my 6th series win in a row.

Undoubtably the hardest one yet! I almost feel bad, because I really do like Roger that much. Picture a friend of your's in a tight battle for a big series win. You'd be pulling for him right? Well thats our deal. Of course neither of us is gonna let the other just have it, which is what makes it so exciting, but I will say this. I hope he wins Nationals again, since I don't have any teammates in his race this year. It's not gonna be easy though. Natz never is. There's phenominal guys in every category.

A huge thank you to anyone that put up a cheer for me this year. There's a lot of you. I'm glad New England rallied around one of their own this weekend and showed how much they wanted that jersey sticking around these parts for the winter. I'm thrilled to be the guy you all supported. Kevin and I must have had 40 or 50 people wish us luck Sunday morning while we made our preps.....including a classy guy named Roger Aspholm.

An even bigger THANK YOU to Jamie for helping me at every single race this year with his mechanical expertise, pit crewing, soignieur, training partner and of course friendship. Try finding someone that will train with you in the dark in 30 degree temps after you both get out of work at the end of the day, and he wasn't even racing really so that's even more generous.

To one of the best guys you ever wanna meet, and easily the most talented bike racer on the Corner Cycle team. The incredibly loyal and super fast "old" guy.... Kevin Hines. Thanks for all the help and motivation all year long Kev!

After Roger mopped the floor with us in VT on the opening weekend. Kevin came up with this slogan "The jersey is not going back to New Jersey". It may have rented space there for most of the season, but it's home now!

To Sammy, and of course Trish and Nate who gave us a great series to follow in the 45+ and narrowly missed the top step of the final podium to another New England fan favorite. Mark Gunsalis of Team FUJI. Congrats Mark!

And I'd be in big trouble if I left out Nancy. Not only is she my girlfriend, but a fellow athlete (triathlete) and a massage therapist, who just happens to live very close to Roger Williams and also Goddard Park. Let's just say that I had about as PRO treatment as anyone ever did this past weekend. With my back going up in flames in Saturday's race, and chronic chest tightness as well as some pretty sore sticks. I was in good say the least. Thanks Babe!

Finally I'd like to dedicate this season long struggle and ultimate victory to the owner of our team and Corner Cycle. One of my closest friends for over 2 decades. A guy that supports cycling and racing at all levels, ESPECIALLY juniors. George (Lefty) Sykes. George doesn't get the opportunity to come out to the races that much, but if you've ever seen him at the races, you know there's no one that enjoys it more. It seems like one of his favorite days of the year, each year, is the final day of the Verge series in RI. He makes it a point to get down there and see his friends and his team race some cross. With the event having a beer sponsor, it's a match made in heaven.

I spoke to Georgey Saturday night to keep him posted of what had happened, and we talked about a lot of different things, but then the conversation got very serious and he explained to me that his Mom was gravely ill and was close to passing. This is a very private thing, so I don't wanna go into detail here, but he said she was with family and comfortably sleeping and everyone had time to understand what was happening and come to terms with it. He said unless she passed before the race he'd be there to cheer us on.

I was really glad to see him pull into the parking lot just as I did in the morning. Half way through our warm ups he told me he had to go.....his Mom had passed. I can't even imagine how hard this is, since my Mom is still with me, but I imagine there can't be anything more personal than losing the person that brought you into the world. The woman that carried you inside of her for 9 months and then nurtured you and raised you. My deepest condolences and heartfelt sympathy go out to you buddy.

Well that wraps up another awesome season of Cyclocross in New England. We're off to Bend, OR to try to grab a few more jersies. I'll keep you posted.

Thanks for reading, JB

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Lucky #13

Well today was race #13 out of 14 Verges Series races. It was miserable weather. 40 degrees and pouring rain. The field was pretty damn stacked, with Kevin, me and Roger battling for the overall, we also had Matt Kraus back in the mix, as well as both Mark and Frank McCormack. Kurt Perham has been riding super lately, and home court advantage would have to go to Curtis Boivin.

The start was wierd. I didn't get my pedal too quick, but at least I kept my foot on there and didn't slip it. I think the Canadian Steve Proulx got the holeshot. Undoubtably because of his sweet Stevens Carbon race rig.

It didn't take long to see who had the juice. We hit the pavement after a pretty frantic start off and I surfed a wheel until I got up to speed and then went across the small gap to Roger and Kurt and Steve. We dove off the pavement and onto a greasy corner and I ended up taking an inside line which I didn't really want, but I hooked up thanks to the Dugast Rhinos, and blasted off on the exit.

I didn't look back right away, but I could feel that I was alone. Before hitting the long sandy beach run I snuck a peek and saw that I had a handful of seconds on Roger. There could have been 1000 people in the race today, but the 1 guy I had to beat was Roger and he was right there, wearing 2 things I want.....the leader's jersey and a National Champion's kit. I wouldn't have it any other way.

I kept drilling it. So did he. I went by the pits and Jamie yelled "4 seconds". That's not much, but when you're both going full gas, it's something worth pushing for to try and stretch it out.

A lap later.....4 seconds.

2 laps later.......4 seconds......2 laps to go.

Finally I started to see an increase in my lead on that lap and when I got the bell, there was a beautiful thing happening. Kevin was making his way up to Roger after a bad start, and I'm telling you he was way behind Roger at first. He was on him next time I looked and I told myself to focus, but I was hoping I could hang on and then see Kev take the 2nd place points.

Thats what happened, and so after 13 races, with 1 to go I have 665 points to Roger's 660. A five point lead with everything on the line for tomorrow. Very cool.

It looks like 2-4 inches of snow overnight. This is gonna be very interesting!!!

Thats it for now, gotta put my legs up. JB

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ever heard this before?

Battenkill Entry Fees

So the Battenkill Race is up on Bikereg now. It's not open yet, that happens later in the month, but there's something there that really sticks out. The entry fee is $75. SEVENTY FIVE dollars for a bike race! Are you freaking kidding me? If you wanna race the cat 2s or the PRO, 1 race you get the added pleasure of paying $85.

Hey this is America and people can do whatever they want within the laws. But that is dangerously close to a crime. I for one will not be there. I've got a season's full of off road riding, so I see no need to take a Friday off from work drive 4-1/2 hours (each way) and pay $75 to do a race with a very high percentage of flat tires. I double flatted last year about halfway through.

I think if we just go along with it and say things like "Well it's a good quality, unique race", we're asking for other promoters to start doing the same thing. This isn't Triathlon!

I strongly urge all New Englanders to stay in New England that weekend and support "our" races and "our" promoters. If you want the best, most unique ride you can do, enter the D2R2 instead. I promise you won't regret it! It's $50 and you get about $100 worth of value and the memory of a day that will blow your mind.

Do the right thing and boycott Battenkill and their gouging of us. Sure it's not the end of the world to pay that $, but it's the principle and it sets a precedent.

OK I'm done ranting.....JB

Verge Series Winding Down

Once again it's been a while since I've found the time to write here. Since my last entry we've raced Maine, Noho, and Sterling. With only the last 2 races at NBX in RI left, a lot has happened, but not much has changed.

Maine was a soggy wet mess. Saturday was pouring buckets all day and although Sunday was a great looking day, the track was destroyed and was our muddiest race in years.

Saturday was good since Kevin and I were able to ride a very cold Roger off our wheels, after he nearly dropped me earlier in the race. Kev and I rolled to the line together and we had decided to take the jersey by putting me across the line first rather than duke it out and possibly leave the jersey on Roger's back. I was now 5 points ahead of Roger and had my first series lead of the year.

Sunday should have been good for me too, but I got the worst start I've ever gotten in a cross race. I had put in new spikes for the running I expected to be doing in the mud. They were real long and it's been a while since I ran new spikes. At the start they seemed to block me from getting into my pedal, and combined with a bit too much PAM on the pedals, I slipped it 3 times in a row and honestly thought I was gonna get run over from behind. On the flip side, Kev got the holeshot. He and Roger separated immediately and I was buried in the middle of 30 guys that were talking about their lines and how it's a party back there and swerving in front of me wrecklessly. Panic! I finally got out of it and started to make my way up when I made the next big mistake of the day, there would be more too. I truly raced like a cat 5 that day and was lucky to pull off a 3rd place result. Roger muscled away from Kev on the last lap and the jersey was back on his shoulders.

Noho is one of my favorites and the weather gods smiled on us again this year, with warm sunny days both Sat. and Sun.

I had put in a decent block of training and hoped to see the rewards. Saturday brought Matt Kraus into the mix and this was a welcome sight for me. Matt rides for Richard Sachs and is hugely talented in my eyes. A true cross racer for years & years and a 2nd place finisher to Brandon Dwight last year at Natz.

The race started on the lower deck this year and I got a good start as well as Kevin who was right next to me. First time through the pits Jamie yelled to us that Roger had a bad start and was back a bit. That was all we needed to hear. We lit it up and tried to separate before he got through the masses. After 2 brutally hard laps it was me, Kev and Matt at the front with Roger alone in 4th about 9 or 10 seconds back. We all worked together to keep the gap and with one to go it was clear we had gained more time and he was gonna ride it in and save it for Sunday. That was good, because now I could try to plan how to win. When Matt pulled through on the last lap I wasn't gonna go to the front again except to win. On the bottom of the course I attacked into the sand and out of the pit and powered the last 2 field sections, Kevin was also able to get around him before we hit the pavement and we went 1,2 with Matt 3rd and Roger 4th. I now had a 10 point lead in the series. My biggest yet. After the race the Corner Cycle Crew hammed it up on the podium. Then I visited good friends in the BOB camper, these guys do it better than anyone! They treated me to chicken Catcitore and lots of laughs. Dave Foley might be the funniest guy on the circuit and I'm glad to see he's doing a little more cross this year, Tim Shea, Garabed and Eric Marro are like staples of New England Cyclocross. This scene we've got going here in New England in the Fall is a freaking blast!!!

Sunday was FAST. I almost checked out on the first two laps, but couldn't quite snap the cord. Roger made no mistakes and Matt was extremely strong all day. It was a 4 man group for most of the day. I bobbled the sand pit once and spent the better part of 2 laps trying my hardest to get back on while Kev tried to slow things down for me in the group. The last lap was wierd, I guess since I finally recovered and I was able to move up fairly easy. I decided to go a little earlier than Saturday, but it didn't work out as well. I attacked before the long straightaway before the sand, but coming out of the sand Roger and Matt had more punch and I struggled to hold them. I got up to speed on the last 2 sections of grass going onto the paved finishing stretch, but we were all going the same speed with little gaps between. Roger was 1st, Matt 2nd, Kev 3rd and I came across 4th. Lead gone. Back to 10 points behind. CRAP!

Sterling was 3 weeks away and I vowed to myself that I would show up for it more fit and ready to peak for the end of the season and Natz.

Day 1 was WINDY and surprisingly dry after a long day of rain on Friday. It was Tom's (Stevens) classic Sterling course, complete with horse jump and tricky barriers. We shot off the line and it was quickly a 4 man group. Me, Kev, Roger and Kurt Perham. Kurt is riding very well and often wins the holeshot and hangs with us for most of the race. With 2 to go Kevin and I chatted on the track about what to do next since we wern't getting anywhere. He went into the lead before the horse jump and I got into 2nd with Kurt in 3rd and Roger 4th. Kevin can ride corners better than any of us in the Master's group. So he did that while I took my sweet time getting through the 5 or 6 turn chicane. I didn't brake check anyone, just rode slowly. Theres a comfort level everyone has with this sort of tactic and although it would be foolish not to deploy it, I don't want to go over the line and be cheap. Everyone will have a different view and different ideas, but we're all friends in our group and there's no reason it can't stay that way along with some good racing at te same time. Anyway, Kev had a good gap coming out of the turns and I was surprised I didn't get passed through the next few sets of turns. On the backstretch Roger lit it up and it was SAVAGE. That was it for Kurt. It seemed like he was trying to use our tactics to his advantage by letting Kev go a bit, then dropping me while bridging to him and then have only Kev to beat in the end. He almost did just that as I was hanging by a thread. I needed to counter attack when he got to Kev, but he didn't quite close the door and left Kev sitting about 3 bikelenghts ahead. Very savvy! We got the bell. Then right before the run up he attacked past Kev and made it really hard for me to follow since we then entered the greasy corner before the hill. He ran very well up the hill, and Kev encouraged me as I ran past trying to limit the damage. I closed it down before the horse jump. I was taxed but OK. How do I finish? How do I win? Where do I go? Should I sprint him? Lead out? Or come around? Sammy let Marky G lead it out in the 45s and never got around him. Where's Kev? How's he feeling? Can we block for one and other again? Those were just a few of the thoughts that were in my head as I raced the last lap. "Cyclocross is like trying to play chess while you're drowning". Roger went just fast enough to discourage me from attacking and I ended up waiting for the sprint on the track. I would try to come around him. We hit the track with a bit of a drift but both were able to power up right away. I got in his wheel and shifted twice, he was galloping now, time to go. I went left and gained half a bike instantly. My bike was all over the place and he seemed to have another gear at the same exact time as me. I never got closer than his bottom bracket and he held me off. CRAP AGAIN!! This guy is so good and so strong. It's an honor to race a guy that just loves to crush it who is decked out in National Champion Colors. I know Kev feels the same way too. BUT I still wanna beat him!!! 20 points back now in the series and only 3 races left.

I'm happy with my form anyway, it's just that the competition is better than ever. Sunday would be a MUST WIN SITUATION. Anything less would be horrible failure.

Sunday was warm and dry again. Tom made an outstanding day 2 course and even though it was dry overnight we found ourselves in more muddy spots than Saturday. I decided to ride my brand new Dugast Rhino's on alluminum rims with rubber brake pads. A very dependable and predictable braking combination. I hoped to have good day 2 legs for the 1st time all year. I got on the bike to warm up and it was clear I had the legs today......I LOVE this feeling, as it gives me uber confidence.

I've been dicking around too much this year and haven't taken the bull by the balls enough. "So what if he's good.....OK great, but I can ride a bike too. Today is gonna hurt, and I can't wait!" That was my self prep talk during warm up. What a dork huh?

Anyway I got the hole shot and led off the track and onto the lower section. Marky Mac was on my wheel and as we approached the very slimy ride/run up, he asked me "Riding or running"? I actually had to think about it for a second and then I remembered my talk to myself, and I said "Riding". I don't know what happened behind me, but I dove hard left with a hard surge and powered up and over and then really juiced it on the top. Before I dropped into the descent I looked back and I had a big gap. From that point on I just rode as hard as I could and as smart as I could. I felt really good and got to the point where I could take a breath and recover and go hard again. My name rung out over the speakers and from friends cheering and it motivated me more. I slowly pulled away with help from Kevin. He jumped in front of Roger when he could and slowed it down, and then sat on him when he made power in the straight aways. In the end I was able to ride the last lap carefully and cruise across the line for a comfortable win with my arms raised. Roger took 2nd, so I'm 10 points behind with 2 races to go. Anything can happen.

Thats it for the race reports.....thanks for reading, JB