Tuesday, December 11, 2007
Missouri CX State Champs
Everyone who showed up and raced Sunday is a Champ in my book. The race was epic. The conditions looked like any I have seen in the awesomely radical Belgian CX races of my dreams and really hard. The only downside to the whole day was me feeling totally unvalidated in my victory because of some weak sauce competition who took the easy way out. You know who you are.
Anyone who made and excuse or was worried about the driving conditions is a chump. It reminded me of mornings driving from Boston to VT at 3 a.m in an Acura Integra with 3 ft of fresh snow on the ground with my buddy Joost, so we could get to Stowe and lay fresh tracks. Or Maybe guys who surf in hurricane like weather in search of the perfect wave. A little ice too tough for you? You know who you are. I even saw a couple guys at the race who should have been in my class that didn't race??? Or maybe people were saving themselves so they can get lapped at nationals? Good thinking! Next year when the promoter decides not to go as deep and do all the work for nothing (except for the 32 rock stars that wouldn't let a little mud and ice keep them from having fun), who do you think will be the first one to get on www.stlbiking.com and complain about how watered down the course is when we are riding loops around the Big Shark sales floor at 72*?
It seemed as though everyone who was racing Sunday meant business. Some people have realistic goals for Nationals and are peaking like a sweet Trey solo during an encore at the last show of a tour. For others, myself included, this was the big show. Whether your scope of racing doesn't extend beyond the regional level, or like me you didn't realize how great CX was until recently and reality isn't starting at the back of a 150 person field, there was something on the line here in everyones mind. Some people were just out there racing, the thought of peaking nonexistent at this point of their racing endeavors, maybe with fingers crossed at the starting line in their lobster claw gloves, hoping for their first win. Whatever it may have been to you on a personal level, the mystique of the State Championship race brings out peoples A game.
The masters field had some of the big A names in it and Scott Dunsmuir dominated. Instead of taking the Tom Brady approach as of late, Scott jumped out in front early and maintained a steady lead over Harre and Nagy. Unfortunately the Cat 4 race was dominated by those from across the river but all around nice guy Drew Black was the first Missouri rider across the line and pretty stoked about it. He's a nice fella. In Sven Nys style the FBC points leader let MJ lead for most of the race and then came around him in the last 200 m. MJ has stated that he tried to give him the finger but couldn't feel them and was too tired to raise his arm. Giovanni Fondolini had a great race and blew his loyal fans kisses as he crossed the line, a true Italian paisano. Old Man Murphy hung in there with some of the masters and is now more determined than ever to host a short winter CX series since he improved on the fitness/booze consumption mixture.
Since Matt Laberta and I were the only Cat III cross racers in Missouri that were able to find the zipper to their skirts in time for the race, Buddy put us in with the A's. I double checked with Josh before the start of the race to make sure he was wearing more than BKW's, I got the humble nod; no amount of embrocation was strong enough to try to keep looking pro in these conditions. I was pretty stoked to see if last weekend was just a flash in the pan or if I had figured a this CX thing out a little and could hang. I got a pretty good start behind Nate and could hear Josh gently coaching me from behind "c'mon Dave I don't want to get totally fucked here, pick it up." So much for slow starts. Instant separation on the first lap. They both rode away from me. State Champ fever outweighs starting slow, even for those slightly more pro than the rest of us. The two dominant Missouri CX riders, teammates, would force each other to ride on the rivet forcing one to crack. By the time I got to the top of the stairs I looked back to see Rico and Dust dismounting, I was flying. In the next couple of laps my lead on those guys grew quite a bit, and I noticed that Rico had dropped Dust pretty good.
As the race went on I was getting that euphoric feeling and going harder and harder, it was coming easy and the laps were ticking by fast. I was charging through the sand and riding the tough stuff pretty well for myself. Every time I would pass the pavilion I was getting fired up hearing all my friends yelling and the bells ringing. I set this goal for myself after the first race at Spanish Lake and was achieving it with perfection; it didn't matter who I was racing that day, I was feeling IT and flying. Josh and Nate lapped the rest of the field. Maybe they let up a little when I was out of sight, but judging by what other people told me, I think I was able to maintain the gap between us. I was pretty happy about finishing 3rd to those guys again and at how well I rode. Winning the State jersey lacks merit when there is only one other competitor, but like I said before, it wouldn't have mattered who I was racing that day.
Unfortunately, like all kickass-face melting Trey solos that have you riding a wave of euphoria; grinning ear to ear, starting by moving slowly to a few licks, people wondering if this is going to be one of the good ones before really taking off- erasing all doubt, getting down hard to the machine gun notes, taking it to places you've never been, faster, faster, then the uncontrollable breaking point where it is so good you are just jumping up and down, eyes closed, head and shoulders back and the music is just wailing!!!! So good- but it all is brought down with some thundering bass notes that put your feet back on the ground, the sugue back into reality, the arena stops shaking, the house lights come on and the fun's over. Often times when Phish was playing that well they didn't care whether they would have to pay some hefty fines for playing too long, they'd come back on stage and rip another tune because they loved it so much and just knew it when they had that connection. I'm feeling it now, the fitness is that good and I could probably push it if I had a stage to play on. Strange to have it so late in the season without feeling burnt. The house lights are on and it's over, time to go to the after show party and talk about how great it was...