Monday, October 29, 2012

Hot Sauce

Canton Cup is like a mini-New England Worlds. It has a LOT going for it. Super close to Boston. You can actually ride to it if you like. It has a good mix of Zombie Apocalypse and super fast cx track. I say Zombie Apocalypse part to the fact that its held on Halloween Weekend so all things Zombie are on the brain. And that its held at a venue that would make a great set for The Walking Dead.

Canton has a pretty rich history for me. Its one of those races that are a buzzsaw for me. And in a sick she only beats me cause she loves me way I love Canton for how hard it is. Its not hard in any technical way. If you have been following my cx exploits for any period of time you probably gather that I am not the fastest racer. It needs to slow down a bit and get techy for me to crack my usual mid-pack finishing spot. I don't do well in a race unless bombs are going off and all the roadies are freaking out on dropoffs etc. Even then it has to be a perfect storm for me to get into the top 20...but results are NOT what cx has ever been about for me. Going hahhhd and fast with my friends and having fun has and is what cx is all about for me. Canton has all of that. Two years ago I finally found out the secret parking spot at Canton. And that has opened up a whole other aspect of the race. We set up the Death Star at the track and were able to have a great tailgater.

The re-routed the race a bit so the race didn't go right by the tent but still it was perfect. Any day you can roll up to the course with Snow Blind blaring out of the manvan and get a HUGE hug from your teammates and dump a teams worth of gear out and set up camp for a great day of cx and heckling is a win in my book. I registered for the Killer Bs once again. I can't help it. They are a ton of fun. The fields are big. I think there were about 80 guys on the line. That is pretty rad. Less rad was that we were staged 15 across ala Braveheart. And I would be lying to say I wasn't totally freaking out when the whistle went off. I was surrounded by friends. Which is both good and bad. Its good but its bad because you are extra careful to not fuck up and take them out. We went zero to 60 up the pavement. I basically held my spot but there were dudes flying up both sides of me. Then I was blinded. Both by the dust that the thundering herd had kicked up and a dude in a sheer white skin suit. Now I love Blanco. Its a Hup tradition. But this guy was not petite. And the skinsuit was ALL white. No logos, no double panels, nothing. He might as well have been racing naked. That would have been less obscene. And mind you I have no problem with nudity or the male physique. But I could not hang out behind this guys ass. So I had to get douchey two turns into the race.

I don't think I crashed anyone this time. I snuck through and put the pedal to the metal as much as I could. Have I mentioned it was a pretty big field? And that my start was about 6th row? So I had some work to do. And at Canton with its wide open fields you get a good view of the race. As we dumped out onto the field at turn 3 I could see the leaders already heading towards the woods and the first barriers. Hahaha. So yeah the race within the race was gonna be a party at the back clearly. But what is great about Canton and the 3s is that even when you are mid-pack or at the back of the race the racing is fast and there really isn't a big drop off in the racing. I got into a group with Todd P. Who is now 10 pound skull instead of 20 pound skull. Todd has made huge strides the last two seasons. It is really awesome to see how far he has come. Not only is he a good friend of mine but I really love racing with him. He is faster than me but we are well suited to race with each other.

We came into the barriers together and I almost axe murdered him. Not really sure what happened. I think I was so hypoxic at this point from going so hard that my brain wasn't functioning. Coming in hot to a double barrier boxed in by a bunch of young lions is a bit sketchy anyway but when you are seeing double it gets a bit dodgy. I got off fine took one step hurdled and then almost Joey'd my bike. I hit the front wheel and it went back like it was shot out of a canon. Luckily I kept a handle on it but it almost decapitated Todd. That would have been ironic. I saw out of the corner of my eye Jon bunny hopping the barriers. Respect! We hit the paved path and it somehow went from fast to faster. The group I was in was doing a pretty good job moving up. Some riders would crack and fall off. Others would take a flier to go try and latch onto groupo Shopengarten. Lots of people complain that Canton is "too" fast. Or that it doesn't have enough turning. What ever. If you can't see the beauty of going 18 mph on a cross bike locked into a 6 person paceline you mustn't really like racing. I love the jungle cross trust me. No one loves a sketchy dropoff more than me. But I also LOVE going fast. And being in a big group going fast and having to think about wether to suck wheels or lead and get away brings a whole other element to cx. I like it a lot. Canton isn't a grass crit though. Not at all. There was ample opportunity to get messed up. Not in a hurt you sort of way but in a yard sale kind of way. The run up/ride up this year was a perfect example of that. This year they made it a straight shot right into the run up. So you just had to go into it hot and carry that speed over the top to the track.

But you had to time it. I would say 5 out of 5 times I rode the runup people crashed at the top of it and I had to adjust my line to get around them. There were some pretty spectacular jam ups. There was a nice crowd of hecklers at the top as well so it made it even more fun. Towards the end it became a test of keep people from catching our group that now included Ed and Jon from Hup and trying to figure out how to catch Shopengarten and Glowah. It was so close. So close. On the 180s we could have reached across and high fived them. Steven would heckle me to come join there party. God I tried. Believe me I tried. I was about to blackout I was going so hard. Ed and I got into a good pace with about two to go. We pretty much were able to control our group by working together. Jon popped off the back but he was on a 29er with HUGE tires so he was working about 100 percent harder than we were to maintain the same speed. And Todd P took a flyer to catch the next group. Ed and I came up the runnup together and hit the track at warp speed. We dispatched the one guy still with us and rolled up to the finish 44 & 45th! I was so stoked Ed beat me. Seriously. Ed has come soooo far in cross. He is a natural at it no doubt. And man he is fast. Super fun to race with. One of the main reason I race 3s is to be able to race with my teammates. There really is no better feeling.

There were two costumed riders in the 3s. Abel from Hup who dresses as Super Mario and what I at first thought was some Naughty Elf...turned out he was a bottle of Srirachia hot sauce. Well played gentleman...well played. A cold Dale's Pale Ale tasted so good after inhaling dust for 50 minutes. As I stumbled over to the runup to heckle the 1/2/3 women I received the best heckle ever. Andy Huff saw me and said "you are a vision of White Trash" Yes. Yes I am....Huge thanks to the folks who put on Canton. Its for a great cause and always one of the highlights of my season. Most of the photos here are from Benjamin Stephens.

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