Tuesday, November 15, 2011

MARBRA Super8 Ed Sander Memorial recap.

I'll refrain from an apology for being tardy on the entry of the Ed Sander cx race which happened two weekends ago...but hey, I don't feel tardy....

A.Brenneman Photography
We rolled in with the trailer early with hopes of getting a spot in the team tent area which we did. Nice. After unpacking the gear, hitting the registration tent and catching the tail end of Mike Brenneman's (above photo rider) field finishing up, all of us on deck for the 10am push off, slipped into something more comfortable.

Photo courtesy of C.Sherdel.
Me, Evans, Sherdel and McCready pinned our numbers on the left-side and promptly started our OCD pre-race rituals. Despite the temps hovering around 29*F that morning, it felt great to warm up on the trainer under the bright morning sun; no wind. This race was kissed by blue bird skies just as the other MABRA Super8 events have this year; at least the ones I've attended--missed Hyattsville and Winchester, :(

After 30 minutes of trainer time and a water bottle of jet fuel, I swapped out the rear trainer wheel for knobbys and reset the tire pressure as any good boy should. Evans was still unsure of his bottom bracket which seems to have felt the wrath of another local 'cross race gone Belgium the weekend before. Yikes, later this proved to be fatal on his first lap, forcing our man Evans a mechanical and a DNF. Better luck next time mate.

The Ed Sander's venue was beyond comprehension when explained to me at first. Holding a 'cross race at a lily pad farm seemed to raise more than just my eyebrow. The course flagging tape wound its way wearily between large, deep ponds which are used to grow lily pads. Honestly, I thought it was pretty rad once I got the first lap under my belt and it sunk in where I had just ridden through.

Back to the start. The four of us lined up and I'm back again, near 100th on the starting grid. It would be nice if we were staged like F1 according to your qualifying laps, not your ability to stare at the Bikereg.com web page ready to pounce on the
register now button, but I digress.

The whistle blows at less than 30 seconds to go and the drag race starts up the long road section to the first left turn into the grass. It's funny how things unfold at the start, the adrenalin spikes and things go into slo-mo. Half way up the road which everyone was doing a swell job to not crash into each other, I realized the course tape extended 3 feet off the road to the side and no one was seeing this. At that moment of clarity, I
clicked off another gear and tore off into the grass, around gobs of racers, and got back onto the road in time as the field pealed off the pavement onto softer terrain.

My first lap saw the usual bottle neck of cyclist at the hard left turn into the mud pit; I ran it the first lap. Second lap, tried to be a hero and pedaled through the muck which burned off way too many matches I was saving for later, laps 3-5 I ran that section like a nervous doe during opening season gaining much ground on the others who decided to have a pissing match with the pit.
[By the time the Masters 1/2/3 field went off with Clark and Mealey, this section of mud was 50% drier.]

Shane McCready moving through traffic during the first half of the race.

A.Brenneman Photography
Chris Sherdel on the pavement section of the course, eyeballing the first turn.

I really was enjoying the fast corners; probably the fastest of corners compared to the other races this year. I feel that a couple of psi less in the rear would have yielded a faster lap time on the grass yet bogged things down on the long stretch of road up to the finish line. That's the tricky thing about 'cross racing; finding that balance of tire pressure for on and off road.

A.Brenneman Photography
3 laps to go I caught Sherdel and we did a little tempo work on the climb to the finish area. It felt good to ride with a teammate for a bit...guess it's the roadie in me speaking...?

I love the MC work that went on at ESMCX. Mostly because I got heckled BAD by the dude. I have a habit of loosing track of 'laps to go' during the race. Hell, with a murder yourself attitude when riding, the memory is the first to go, right? On the grassy mid-field climb near the announcers area, I took in a huge gulp of air and shouted out to the guy, 'How many laps to go?' He shouted back over the PA, 'Man, if you can talk, you ain't riding hard enough!' Damn, tough crowd here, I thought. Luckily Mealey was at the next corner and yelled back, 'One and half, this half and then one more...go, go!' Love everywhere, haha!

After attacking the road section every lap, I chalked up a 29th place finish out of 84 riders that started. There was a dozen or so no-shows which was easy money in the promoters pocket since those dudes DNS'd. I'm pretty happy after starting near the last line of the start. My kill points for this race have bumped me to 5th place out of 217 guys in my division of the MABRA Super8 series-- happy, happy.

A.Brenneman Photography
Our junior racer Owen, drilled it for a 3rd place finish in the Juniro 10-14 age division. Nice work from the kid who the announcer claimed 'weighs no more that a fifth of liquor'. 12 more years he can have that victory pint.

A. Brenneman Photography
Great effort man! And congrats to his dad Mike Brenneman for being that 'cool dad' who takes him racing. They have a ton of fun with the rest of the family cheering from behind the tape.

The Masters 35+ 1/2/3 field is fast, smaller in size than the Masters 35/45+ 3/4 I race. Sort of the difference between a cup of diner breakfast coffee versus a doppio-- condensed and powerful.

Clark and Mealey lined up down the road and I stood craning my neck over the tap to catch the drag race that was about to start. Bam, in a flash there were up the road and tearing into the grass.

A.Brenneman Photography
Clark Evanitus grinding away in the grass. This guy is like a diesel, bottom end power that keeps spooling up.

Clark on the short power climb, exiting the mud pit area. I envy his field as the pit was drier by 1pm when his class went off; more ride-able. 11th overall for the day.

Our Team Director, Mealey tackling the climb, post-mud pit which then led to a sweeping left into the barriers/run up.

A.Brenneman Photography
Mealey pushing it up the climb after the barrier section. This part of the course burned the most matches-- mud pit to barriers to steep run up. 17th place overall for the day.

A.Brenneman Photography
Like any good day of racing, we all look forward to relaxing, recovering and review the events that unfolded from the side of the course. The Mens 1/2/3, Killer Bs, women's field all provided copious amounts of entertainment as we gobbled down food and and enjoyed a cold beer.

A.Brenneman Photography
This race season I learned that me and Mike B (left of me in photo above) have so much in common from our youth it's scary; yet never crossed paths. Funny how racing brings people together who you never knew growing up. This makes you realize how small the world truly is once you start sharing stories of yesteryear.

Packed up and heading home. Thanks for the great efforts guys!

A.Brenneman Photography
The team Keystone Velo 'cross guys. (l-r) Shane McCready, Evans Rohrbaugh, Chris Sherdel, Mike Brenneman, Owen Brenneman, Clark Evanitus, Will Mahler and team director Sean Mealey. I'm blessed to have a great crew around me.
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