I've never been a big fan of Canton. It always seems to draw a smaller crowd of 35+ racers yet always has many of the fastest guys in the region in attendance. What that makes for is a race that is top heavy but not overly deep in terms of numbers, making a top ten performance difficult yet to a degree, lackluster given the field totals. Couple that with what in the past has been a pure, wide open power course and I'd find it hard to get excited. This year, however, there were some changes in the course. There were many new corners and switchbacks and some new sections of miserably bumpy field were brought into play. The high speed, 12" high single log was in as were the two sets of 40cm high barriers and the set of shorty barriers. Add to that the wind that always seems present and the lap times that were nearly 10 minutes and the picture seemed quite different, making for a much more interesting course. The NEBC team turnout for the race was once again huge as well and I've cross posted my report as part of the team report on the web site.
Once again I managed to do nothing with a front row start and found myself helplessly lost in the bunch of people who can start sprint better than I. I could see that my teammate Scotty was killing it and went off the pavement in the top 5 easily. For me though, trying to relax but frantically chopping away to move while the leaders were steadily charging away from me made for an interesting first couple of laps that threw me well into the red. By the second lap I came unglued and my buddy Matt, who had been with me for a while, took over. As always, I struggled to follow the wheel, falling off and coming back. The perceived exertion seemed too high but I fought through it for a change and stayed on. A half lap later I'd recovered enough to move back to the front and work forward toward the group of 4 that were up ahead. Unfortunately Matt had an issue and fell off as I pushed up to the group ahead.
Mad Alchemist Pete, who had easily been doing 95% of the work in the group before hand, was the last on the train. I moved ahead and joined Mark coming into the barriers and up the hill. This was the point where we should have been coming through for the bell lap; one to go. The officials had a different idea and gave us two to go instead. That changes things a bit.
Through the field, Ryan was riding off the front after taking over from John. Into the log I noticed that John and Mark were dismounting so I drilled it hard for the hop. Throughout the race I was high-speed hopping the log and it proved to be a huge time saver, gaining many bike lengths, as long as you cleared it. Unknown to me until after the race, another nemesis of mine, Peter, who was sitting just a bit behind our group, didn't make it. Fortunately he is OK. Seeing a gap I went as hard as I could off the front of the group, trying desperately to reach Ryan. John turned himself inside out to claw back up but Mark and Pete were gapped. The rest of the lap was a steady chase for Ryan but his gap stayed constant. The final lap I tried to attack out of every corner to gap John but he had none of that, nor was I able to cut back into Ryan's lead. Pete was making a desperate attempt to bridge back so I knew the pressure had to remain on or he would catch be right back with us. I lead through the final barriers and on the pavement but John as expected went ahead up the hill. I tried to sprint but the cards were dealt and I was tapped.
All in all, a good race and a result that I am satisfied with given that I feel I raced and executed fairly well. I was able to fight through the race-time motivational issues that have plagued me much of the season. Hopefully the funk is over.
2010 bikereg.com Canton Cup Cyclocross Race Results