Friday, December 30, 2011

Grotji Prijs 2011 = Totally and Completely BAD A**!

"3,000 years of beautiful history from Moses to Sandy Koufax, you bet i'm f*cking living in the past!"

That's a Big Lebowski quote, this post is a few days late, i'm living in the past. The Dude abides.

Anyway... Wow!

Wednesday night I participated in one of the most exciting races of my life! If i never do another race again (not going to happen) i can retire with a smile on my face. Grotji Prijs was that awesome.

Grotji Prijs race re-cap...

It was a night race, so cool. Even cooler was the weather, a balmy 45 degrees in late December at 745 pm, amazing. The course was tons of fun and so was the vibe. Music playing, free beer, people having fun, this is what cross can be.... a time and place where you can feel that theres no place else youd rather be. Of course all this nostalgia and romance really bubbles up when you win the race... and i won!

After checking the results i realized there were 26 starters, wow... and two of them were KCCX guys. Alex and Chris, theyre young and used to be (still are?) bad ass, Alex won the 2/3 race at Jinglecross a few years ago and Chris has been to Junior Worlds, so yeah, they've got some skill. i assumed they hadnt been racing much since i havent seen them at all for a year or two but figured they would be flying anyway. They were definately the x factor.

I showed up late to the start but luckily there was a spot on the front row. Not sure how i got so lucky. The whistle blew and my start was good. It was a pavement start, which i love, and it was followed by a long uphill, also paved. I dropped onto the grass in around 6th. The KCCX duo started very fast but we caught them and were rolling about 7 deep at the front during the first lap. I was immediatley in heavy breathing mode. It felt like the starts at Jingle Cross, intense. We were going fast. Plus our race was only 30 minutes instead of the usual 45 so im sure everyone was laying it all out there immediately. It was waaay fun.

I think one of the KCCX guys, Alex, dropped out early so we were down to a lead group of 6. I actually spent the first half of the race joining and then getting dropped from this front group multiple times a lap. Basically I was hanging on for dear life. But i never broke.

i would struggled thru the turns but make up ground on the strait sections. The race conditions were great. on top of great weather the ground was soft, a bit muddy, and slippery. You had to be on your toes. On top of the slick grass there were also several 90 degree gravel turns, this course had it all.... and it was fast too! Very little room for error. I almost lost it a few times and almost got taken out a few times. The racing was intense and awesome.

The lead group was made up of....

David, my teamate
Boulevard Jason
Trek Summers
Coppage Copperfield
KCCX Chris

Chris and Jason and David led early on. Then David started to pull away but i think Chris drug everyone back up and we were all together again. We were drafting each other the entire race. At some point Chris drifted back and i came around him, he slotted in right behind me but just the fact that he seemed to be struggling, even if it was just a tiny bit, gave me a confidence boost.

We all rode together but constantly dished out little attacks for the entire race, even if it was just to gain a position or two. Remember, the race is only 30 minutes long so it was like a big sprint, even more so than a usual cross race. Despite the frantic nature of the race, at least from my perspective, nobody ever really got away and we were still all together with 1 to go. Now, this is where it gets a little suspect. Several in our leading group later said they didn't know we were on the last lap. The only time i remembered to look at the lap counter was when it said 1 to go, so i lucked out, but a few other dudes thought there were two to go. And it turns out that David didn't even know where the finish was. Whoops. He was pretty mad at himself after the race.

This might explain how, when headed up the paved hill on the final lap, i was able to move up rather easily and then follow James attack onto the grass. It really worked out perfectly. The group was slowing so i started gradually moving up from the very back, as im doing this i see James make his move, i spotted it immediately and was out of the saddle and on his wheel as we rolled onto the grass. All the sudden, after getting my a** kicked all race i was suddenly sitting second with less than a lap to go and a pretty tight (aka - hard to pass) course in front of me. Sweet!

James lost some steem as we rounded the basketball court and i took the lead as we approached the gravel section on the back side. This was shaping up nicely. Sure i was slow thru the corners but since i was first it meant everyone had to go at my speed. Pow! Did i mention how X was the ultimate motivator during the race. She was everywhere all the time and constantly yelling at me to "catch back up", "pedal thru the corner", "dont be a wuss!" It helped.

With about a half lap to go i remembered that the barriers were right before the finish. Pow again!

I love the barriers and these were great ones. You could come in really fast and they were pretty spread out so you could run fast once you dismounted. The way they were set up meant that if you were good at barriers then you could really use it to your advantage. I like that. It makes them more important. I figured if i could get to 'em first and get over 'em fast and clean then i would have a great shot at winning. I poured my life into the pedals leading up to the barriers and nobody ever came around me, which was a little surprising, but I knew they were still right on my wheel. I gave one last kick on the strait before the barriers and then started the dismount. I was coming in so fast i had to tap the breaks right before i was about to unclip my last foot (probably normal for a lot of folks but i usually dont have to do that.) i made it over like a gazell on steriods and remounted for the final 20 seconds to the finish line.


i gritted the teeth and kicked it in the guts. So much so that i almost overshot the left hand sweeper leading to the finishing strait. I think i'm a poor sprinter so i was nervous that someone would come around. And someone almost did, thru the dark i saw a wheel in my left prepherial. It was getting closer, but so was the finish line. I seemed to be in a good gear and then i let out a grunt / yell, first time thats happened. Anyway, the line came before the phantom wheel could pass me... first place, baby!

I can still barely believe it. I was struggling pratically all night but i payed attention to where we were at in the race and it paid off. Funny, usually im the guy who isn't paying attention. It pays to pay attention.

So that was Grotj Prijs 2011. A night i'll never forget.

*I have to echo what Tillford said on his blog and give a huge thanks to Mark Thomas and everyone else who promotes Bicycle races. Steve T pretty much summed it up, it's a thankless job done with passion.

Thanks everyone, you make our lives so much more exciting!

1 comment:

  1. Nice Racing! Hope to see you Sunday Night for more epic night greatness at The Darkness!!!