The last six months an unholy alliance has been forged between the Lion and the Cockroach. Ronde 2.5, Rapha G-ride, on and on and on. We have bonded over a shared interest in punishing ourselves and seeking the not so travelled routes on our cross bikes. Its been amazing. At Canton we set up shop right next to Cambridge's compound. It was great to see the crew as always. I was racing the 3/4 in the hopes of Cross Clashing with Matt Aumiller and Rob Hale. Life conspired against this and left me to battle men dressed as toilets, Tinker Bell and the Super Mario Brothers. Nice. I had really low expectations for this one. I was still hacking a lung and was not feeling right. But I took a ton of advice from Mr. Aumiller and coach Al. Went heavy with the vicks and all manner of old school tricks to trick my body into thinking it was actually health enough to bike race. But frankly merely being around the NECX got me ready to race. At the line I didn't even feel sick. I still knew I was screwed but I was able to trick my brain into thinking I had this. But back to the NECX. I had a most hilarious interchange with Resutsboy while warming up on the trainer. He was equally disgusted that I was on the trainer and then noticed I was using my Fangos. He began mocking me about using $80 tubies on a trainer and how insane that was. I assured him they were not $80 but were more like $120. His reaction was priceless when he realized I was using my FMBs!
He shamed me off the trainer and then gave the tires a pinch. And the mockery continued. But thank god. He suggested a much more PRO tire pressure like say 27/28. This set Rae totally off. Which in itself was hilarious. I doubted the effectiveness of such low pressure on a course covered in pavement but who am I to argue with the King of the Internet. I mean that kid knows stuff. So I borrowed CB's pimp crafstmen inflater and dialed it in. 27/28. And thank god I did.
So I roll over to the start and reconnect with everyone. I end up staging 3rd row right behind Dave Chiu. Not a bad wheel to follow. Whistle goes off and its like freaking Braveheart. People are swarming everywhere. I try and stay on Dave's wheel as much as humanly possible. We make the sketchy first corner and then I just lay down watts trying to lock onto Dave. In the scrum on the fireroad I lose contact a bit and get in with another Ride Studio rider. His gears start making all kinds of horrible I am going to explode any moment noises. Now I am learning cat 3s do things a bit different that the fast old dudes. Old dudes yell a lot in the beginning of the race. First lap they scream at you, threaten fights in the parking lot etc. All kinds of crazy shit. But nothing really goes down. They ride very predictably and contrary to the verbal barrage they spew at you, ride with a level of respect of someone who knows they need to go to work the next day and can't afford to be in a body cast. Cat 3s go kinda crazy. Which is sort of exciting.
So back to the starship trooper who's wheel I have the misfortune to be on. He mashes down on those poor gears one too many times and then BOOM! The chain snaps and goes flying through the air in slow mo like a helicopter blade in a zombie movie. I see it coming at my bike and don't even have time to process it. Bam its in my front wheel. Makes all manner of ripping and shredding noises. I dismount at the barrier pull it out and fling it. I remount and the wheel is f'd. Or I assumed it was f'd The front brake is rubbing so bad on it I assume I broke a spoke or two. The pit is soooo far away. I keep driving as best as I can but am bleeding spots. But at least I am moving forward. I am in an ok group heading towards the log when I stack it big time in a corner. I get up and the chain is off. A group of seemingly 20 dudes goes flying by me. I just laugh. Things went from good to bad so fast it was comical. Get the chain on and just try and get to the pit in one piece. The heckling starts in ernest. I hear Resultsboy yelling at me. "How can you be sucking this bad on $250 worth of French tubulars?" Well played sir.
I finally get to the pit after what seems like forever. I roll in and Mark is there in a second. He fixes the problem which ends up being my pads just got tweaked so they were rubbing my front wheel. I get back out in pretty much DFL. But now my bike actually goes sort of fast when I pedal hard. So I decided to go hahdah. Dave Foley aka Negacoach sees me and yells my favorite heckle of the day. I hear him yell "Baker are you really going to let a toilet beat you!?"
That shocks me out of my pity party and I am like hell fucking no I am not going to get beat by a dude wearing a toilet as a costume. So I start moving up. First through one and two riders and then groups. I pass Tinker Bell. Then with 3 to go I see the Porcelain God. And now it is on like Donkey Kong! With 3 to go the conditions have gone from cold but dry to pouring rain and freezing. And now Resultsboys pressure advice is paying off in spades. 27/28 makes a Fango which is not a great mud tire into a servaceable mud tire. As long as you stay on top of your shit you are ok. So I start making some headway as people are now either checking out mentally from the conditions or they are going off the course in the sketchy corners. I am able to ride the runup a couple of times which other than my battle with the toilet bowl man was the highlight of my day.
With one to go I finally catch him. He puts up a valiant fight but after Negacoaches heckling there is no way I am losing. I kick it into gear and catch a few more spots on my way in to the finish. At the line Andy Huff comes over and says "you know you wouldn't be falling out of that skinsuit if it was a Castelli" Hahah good one Andy a finish line heckle. Then I see my ass is hanging out of my skinsuit from some sharkbite. I don't even know at what point I shredded my $160 Vermarc skinsuit to pieces. What a day. CX season is back on! It was so great seeing everyone. Insane how much I missed the argy bargy, the heckling, the battles and all my good friends. Toilet bowl man...much respect. You are a worthy adversary!